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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It's budget day.. and there is some concern over what might be announced at half-twelve this afternoon..
We've been told that there won't be any drastic changes in our standard of living, that while public sector spending is going to be cut, the public sector should find it easier to borrow. The 5% increase in fuel duty, due to come into effect next month, has apparently been scrapped, and while inflation still makes the price of filling one's tank expensive, at least the government's not taking any more from our pockets.
But the problem is, that quantitative easing will continue to bring down our deficit..
We're not as badly off as say Greece, who's deficit stands at 144% of it's GDP.. Eire, who's deficit will stand at 100% of it's GDP.. We're at 77% of our GDP, and in all cases, it's the interest payments on these figures that will take perhaps decades to bring down to anywhere near where we stood before the recession two years ago..
The consensus is, that this budget will do it's best to ease the minds of corporations, and small businesses, and the odds are good that we'll see a rise in the Bank of England's benchmark interest rate, to help those who's retirements depend on their savings.. There is also the chance that families will see a slight decrease in income tax..
But all is moot, and the proof of the pudding will be what that red briefcase contains, and that we'll need to wait to find out until after Prime Minister's questions this afternoon..
One disturbing situation is that of Portugal, who's Parliament votes this afternoon on austerity measures. Their Prime Minister, rather foolishly, has threatened to resign if the Opposition does not back his measures, and the Opposition has already said it will not. If the Prime Minister does step down, that would leave the country in financial chaos. It would mean a coalition government, with no powers to negotiate a bailout, which may well be necessary. Again, this afternoon will be an important one for Portugal, with the one hope being, regardless of the vote, the Prime Minister will keep his seat. It would take months for another general election, and in that time, the country could collapse.

Meanwhile, Japan's estimate of the cost of repairs surpasses Standard and Poors by some $50 billion dollars.. The latest Japanese estimate is now $300 billionAm, and while the government says there's no chance of a recession, their are concerns about the length of time it's going to take to effect repairs.
There are real concerns about the amount of radiation levels detected in food and water.. Those near the Fukujima Plant have been told there are now 11 types of food they may not eat, due to contamination. Mothers have been warned not to allow their children to drink tapwater..
At the plant itself, there are still major concerns about reactors 3 and 4, with steam still rising from both.. While they have connected electrical supplies to reactor 3, the rate of coolant is still exceedingly slow in accumulating, leaving the possibility of a meltdown a real danger..

Meanwhile, Mohammar continues with his inflammatory rhetoric in Tripoli, as coalition aircraft continue their round the clock bombardments..
There was a report yesterday that one of his sons was killed by a kamikaze rebel aircraft, but confirmation is lacking..
The situation in Libya is becoming something of a problem for those involved in trying to oust the madman in charge.. Just how far the US, Britain, France, Canada et al can go, is as yet unclear. However, it's a sure bet those wanting to aid the rebels are limited in their scope. These opposing the regime are poorly armed, poorly trained, and while willing, are certainly unable to stand up to the government tanks and trained troops.
There's also unconfirmed reports that Mohammar's looking for a place of refuge.. a country which would take him in should he have to leave in somewhat of a rush..
Reports from the area are becoming more and more sketchy, as journalists are now targets themselves.
Yet, it seems we'll persevere in efforts to get the man out.. but how long this is going to take, is becoming more and more of a question..

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