Tag Archives: Belgium

The Tour de Francis

Can an amateur handle the Tour de France?  Dan Francis gives it a try.  There is a great scene in there where he is actually driven back by 12 metre high snow and a risk of avalanche.  It gives you an idea of how high they go in the Alps.  Not only is he an amateur, he does it without teammates or a peloton.  The Iron Cross, a time trial in Paris traffic, the cold, the cobblestones…  Dan Francis is one tough dude.  Impressive and fun documentary.  Here is an interview with Dan Francis on the experience.

Can we vote “none of the above”?

Belgium which hasn’t had a government for the last 15 months leads most of the western world in economic growth

Quarterly GDP data don’t, on the whole, tend to make the person studying them laugh out loud. The most recent set, however, are an exception, despite the fact that the general picture is of unrelieved and spreading economic gloom. Instead of the surge of rebounding growth which historically accompanies successful exit from a recession, we have the UK’s disappointing 0.2 per cent growth, the US’s anaemic 0.3 per cent and the glum eurozone average figure of 0.2 per cent. That number includes the surprising and alarming German 0.1 per cent, the desperately poor French 0 per cent and then, wait for it, the agreeably frisky Belgian 0.7 per cent. Why is that, if you’ve been following the story, laugh-aloud funny? Because Belgium doesn’t have a government. Thanks to political stalemate in Brussels, it hasn’t had one for 15 months. No government means none of the stuff all the other governments are doing: no cuts and no ‘austerity’ packages. In the absence of anyone with a mandate to slash and burn, Belgian public sector spending is puttering along much as it always was; hence the continuing growth of their economy. It turns out that from the economic point of view, in the current crisis, no government is better than any government – any existing government.

Joe Clark waited an incredibly long time before he recalled parliament in 1979.  Maybe he was on to something.