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Britain's 'Euro Crisis' Disco Ditty Has A Familiar Message: 'We Told You So'

With its “Euro Crisis Song,” the British newspaper The Guardian is having a bit of a laugh at the Continent and its currency woes. But is this not a case of the pot calling the kettle black?

You Tube video pokes fun at countries directly hit by the Euro crisis
You Tube video pokes fun at countries directly hit by the Euro crisis
Daniel Eckert

The British never did have much good to say about the euro, particularly London City bankers who perceive themselves as the center of the financial world. In the 1990s, Helmut Kohl predicted that the UK would reconsider joining the European currency union, but his visionary gifts let him down there: even the former German chancellor would no longer be counting on Britain to do that any time soon.

Relief that the euro crisis is somebody else's crisis isn't the only feeling floating over the British Isles these days: there's some measure of derision, too. And the land of hip pop and rabid media has found just the vehicle: the "Euro Crisis Song." Released on YouTube by the Guardian newspaper, it made the rounds in Britain and has now found its way over to the Continent. The official word from the producers is that the video is intended to "explain the crisis."

"Greece's sovereign debt crisis brought the government to the brink of collapse," begins the song, while the lyrics float as bright-colored words against a black ground. The music is 70s disco style -- had it competed in the Eurovision Song Contest it probably would have counted as one of the more successful British contributions.

"Deregulation, speculation, and the mortgage scam" are to blame for the situation, the song continues. And there's no arguing with "Greece only got in to the eurozone ‘cause of a numbers flub." Then (not without Schadenfreude) comes: "When you use the euro there's just one catch, when things get rough you can't devalue cash." And here's where it gets mean: "PIGS – Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain. Who's gonna bail them out?"

Over and over, "they call you PIGS" is hammered home – PIGS being the term used by London investment bankers for the four crisis countries, written "PIIGS" when Italy is included. Only as the song nears the end is there a spark of empathy: "They call you PIGS but they don't understand, you're not the only ones to spend more than you can."

The song rightly opens up the playing field, because in terms of finance, the UK is anything but a paragon of virtue. This year, its debt will rise to 84% of GDP – higher than Germany and, yes, even Spain. The British deficit is at 9% and won't fall any lower than 7% in 2012. A rating agency has already issued a warning about the country's credit rating.

If the UK still has a prestigious AAA (Triple A) rating, it's in no small measure due to Prime Minister David Cameron's government. In 2010, the conservative launched an ambitious austerity program meant to put an end to the era of permanent deficits. What is unfortunate is that, because of Cameron's close contact with some players at the center of the Rupert Murdoch scandal, he may not survive politically. English bookmakers are already taking bets on his resignation. The austerity plan could well meet a sudden end.

If that happens, it'll be time for a "Europe Crisis Song." And if the Americans get in on the act, then maybe something more along the lines of a "Requiem for Paper Money."

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Economy

In Uganda, Having A "Rolex" Is About Not Going Hungry

Experts fear the higher food prices resulting from the conflict in Ukraine could jeopardize the health of many Ugandans. Take a look at this ritzy-named simple dish.

Zziwa Fred, a street vendor who runs two fast-food businesses in central Uganda, rolls a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex.

Nakisanze Segawa

WAKISO — Godfrey Kizito takes a break from his busy shoe repair shop every day so he can enjoy his favorite snack, a vegetable and egg omelet rolled in a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex. But for the past few weeks, this daily ritual has given him neither the satisfaction nor the sustenance he is used to consuming. Kizito says this much-needed staple has shrunk in size.

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Most streets and markets in Uganda have at least one vendor firing up a hot plate ready to cook the Rolex, short for rolled eggs — which usually comes with tomatoes, cabbage and onion and is priced anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 Ugandan shillings (28 to 57 cents). Street vendor Farouk Kiyaga says many of his customers share Kizito’s disappointment over the dwindling size of Uganda’s most popular street food, but Kiyaga is struggling with the rising cost of wheat and cooking oil.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has halted exports out of the two countries, which account for about 26% of wheat exports globally and about 80% of the world’s exports of sunflower oil, pushing prices to an all-time high, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations agency. Not only oil and wheat are affected. Prices of the most consumed foods worldwide, such as meat, grains and dairy products, hit their highest levels ever in March, making a nutritious meal even harder to buy for those who already struggle to feed themselves and their families. The U.N. organization warns the conflict could lead to as many as 13.1 million more people going hungry between 2022 and 2026.

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