‘Just’ a bookie?

Megan Stoyles writes: Re. “Gambling insider: you’re lowering all our odds, Tom” (yesterday). Your insider bags Tom Waterhouse for pretending to be a sports expert when he is “just” a bookie. Sorry, but bookies make their living on being expert in the sports on which they offer bets. I was surprised at the cricket expertise of an American  who ran a betting operation in Australia, but discovered that most of the bets he took were on cricket. He had to know the game to set the odds so he wouldn’t lose money. To make money bookies have to be smarter than the mug punter be it horse racing, football, and, in Australia and the Indian subcontinent , cricket. And with the expansion of betting into  the games humans play comes nobbling of the athletes, be they human or horse or dog flesh.

Monetary sovereignty not populism

Will Fettes writes: Re: “What’s wrong with the EU?” (Monday). It can certainly be argued that the supranational governance model at the heart of the EU suffers a democratic deficit. Though such arguments are hardly sufficient to dispatch the whole European project, I think it’s perfectly proper for Euro-sceptics to argue these points as forcefully as they may. However, it is plainly wrong to suggest this is the story of the European economic crisis.

Where profligate spending is even the correct story for the situation in Europe, as opposed to public bailouts of private sector bank exposures, such fiscal hangovers have been inherited from successive populist governments, with numbers fudged through the Maastricht Treaty. So it’s highly dubious to blame the EU or unaccountable European bureaucrats for this debt hangover. If anything, EU technocrats were on the side of greater discipline, reform, and more recently, austerity in such matters.

The real flaw at the heart of the European project that has been exposed in recent years has not been the absence of democratic control, but rather the abandonment of monetary sovereignty. That is, we now know that pan-European central banking is completely flawed as a model of monetary macro-economic stabilisation. In other words, the capacity to set regionally-appropriate monetary policy, in concert with fiscal policy, with debts denominated in a national currency is absolutely critical to macroeconomic stability in the face of significant recessions. Though the Euro-scepticism of conservatives helped avoid this fate for the UK, defining the issue as a vindication of populism is problematic as we’re still talking about a different kind of monetary technocracy by central banking elites independent from government.

Peter Fray

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