The earth avoided getting hit by an asteroid last night. Then today, FEMA tested its catastrophic communications system, only to discover some problems. In my own case, the warning signal started skipping, dadadadadadada, sounding like a machine gun, before it switched my jazz to a bad disco station. Outside, there are whistling high winds blowing through the dark afternoon and a threat of snow.
All of which feels appropriate as a set of clowns arrive in the state and prepare to debate over whether they were right to say MI’s major industry–and my state–should go bankrupt.
Jefferson County, AL just did go bankrupt. Finally.
Which sort of feels like the preview to the collapse of Europe. Here’s Brad DeLong:
Time to Spread Foam on the Runway: The Federal Reserve Needs to Act Now to Firewall Off the Eurocrisis
I have been complaining for some time now that Reinhart and Rogoff think that the time is always 1931 and that we are always Austria–that the great fiscal crisis is about to erupt and send us lurching down toward Great Depression II. Well, right now guess what? The time is 1931, and we are Austria.
And he quotes Paul Krugman.
This is the way the euro ends.
Not with a bang but with bunga-bunga.
Seriously, with Italian 10-years now well above 7 percent, we’re now in territory where all the vicious circles get into gear — and European leaders seem like deer caught in the headlights.
I still find it hard to believe that the euro will fail; but it seems equally hard to believe that Europe will do what’s needed to avoid that failure. Irresistible force, meet immovable object — and watch the explosion.
The crash is starting to accelerate again.
With that in mind, it’s worth reading this Misha Glenny piece.
Capricious, unreliable and ideologically driven were some of the more printable epithets hurled at George Papandreou in his final week as Greek prime minister. We should look at the motives of his detractors before taking such critiques at face value. While engaged in titanic political struggles at home and abroad, he has been quietly trying to tackle one of the most intractable root causes of the Greek tragedy – crime and corruption.
As the new Greek government struggles to convince Europe of its resolve to cut the country’s bloated public sector, it also has to decide whether to face down the real domestic threat to Greece’s stability: the network of oligarch families who control large parts of the Greek business, the financial sector, the media and, indeed, politicians.
The oligarchs have responded in two ways. First, they have accelerated their habitual practice of exporting cash. In the last year, the London property market alone has reported a surge of Greek money.
Second, they have mobilised hysterical media outlets which they own in order to denounce and undermine Mr Papandreou at every opportunity, aware he is the least pliable among Greece’s political elite.
Their aim is clear – they are waiting to pounce on the state assets which, under the various bail-out plans, the Greek government must privatise.
I’ve long suspected this crisis has been regarded by some–if not planned–as a means to accomplish in developed nations what their fellow Oligarchs in developing nations used to pull off via geography: the wholesale looting of their countries. And with it, dismantling the social contract on which modern democracy has depended.
Who needs democracy when you can force more austerity onto a country to shield the banks? Who needs democracy when you can add city after city to the ranks of those led by Emergency Financial Managers.
Yeah, the Occupiers have inspired some real fear among the looters. Small-d democracy won some battles last night in Maine and Ohio. But that’s not enough, without real vigilance, to stop the looters.