That's right, Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Francois Hollande underlined Franco-German disagreement over the weekend as they clashed on a timetable to introduce joint oversight of the region’s banking sector, with Merkel rebuffing Hollande’s appeal to activate it “the earlier, the better.” “Complacency seems to have affected European policy- makers,” Joachim Fels, chief economist at Morgan Stanley in London, wrote yesterday. “One case in point is the disagreement between governments about the nuts and bolts of a banking union, which remains crucial to break the negative feedback loop between banks and weak sovereigns.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Francois Hollande’s appeal for German-French unity to tackle Europe’s ills lasted all of three hours as they disagreed over closer integration of the region’s banking system. The two leaders, marking Franco-German reconciliation after World War II, delivered back-to-back speeches in which they hailed their mutual ties, tried out each other’s language and pledged to work together for a more unified Europe to defeat the financial crisis. The bonhomie broke down at a subsequent press conference when they failed to mask their differences on a planned “banking union” meant to achieve that end.
French President Francois Hollande's approval ratings have tumbled to their lowest level since he first took office in May, a new poll showed on Sunday, as France's grinding economic stagnation and record unemployment show little sign of easing. But at least he'll still have a country to withdraw from public life to – not so much Spain – where 25% unemployment (50% for youths) has as many as 1.5M of 7.5M total Catalans protesting in the street, demanding independence.
Out-of-money Catalonia had to ask the central government for a bailout. Catalans are frustrated. They claim that under the current fiscal setup, Catalonia transfers €16 billion annually to the central government, and that these transfers bankrupted the region. Now, in exchange for the bailout, the central government has imposed austerity measures that cut into health care, education, and other services.
On Thursday, Catalan President Artur Mas met with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, originally to beg him for a new tax deal. But the massive demonstration in Barcelona had added independence to the agenda. Rajoy brushed him off, with references to the constitution that didn’t allow regions to secede. “Constitutions may or may not be modified, but they do not subjugate the will of…