Blimey, this crisis of capitalism is going great guns, isn’t it? It’s not just high street retailers that are falling like ninepins. Entire national economies are going kablooie.
All right, the Icelanders I might have expected, what with them building up a banking sector just too big for their currency to support. Whatever about the possibility of the Vikings being fast-tracked into the EU, dumping the króna for the euro now seems inevitable, if only to get a bigger umbrella. And why not? They’ll be in the good company of the Pirate Republic of Montenegro, which also uses the euro as a parallel currency with smuggled fags, having apparently given up on the idea of minting gold doubloons and pieces of eight bearing Milo Djukanović’s likeness. They may not seem to have much in common, but two small countries with buccaneering pasts can maybe learn from each other.
Then you’ve got the poor old Isle of Man, which did its image as an offshore financial centre no good at all by putting its money in, er, Iceland. Luckily the Manxmen are still in the sterling zone and don’t have a pound of their own to support, although as sterling goes down the dunny… they may like to consider their options.
And, just as those vacant Woolworths and Zavvi outlets are going to be snapped up by healthier retailers, it’s a good time for an enterprising government to pick up a few countries on the cheap. The Russians look to have Kyrgyzstan in the bag and are the lead bidders for poor old Iceland. China, meanwhile, not content with buying up much of Africa, will be increasing its stockholding in Pakistan (Mr 10% prop.) and is even splashing the cash in the West Indies. Having been watching Hu Jintao’s state visit to west Africa, it strikes me that, if our leaders are relying on Moneygall native Barack O’Bama to bail out the failing Irish economy, it wouldn’t do any harm to discover Mr Hu’s Irish ancestry, and maybe build an ancestral home. You know, a belt-and-braces strategy.
Meanwhile stateside, I’m startled to note that California has gone bust. One is tempted to say that, if you elect as governor a B-movie actor who waves a broom around and bellows “I vill clean haus” then you’re asking for trouble, but there are broader forces than Arnold at work. I saw an article the other day, where I don’t recall, predicting that a majority of the United States had unsustainable levels of debt and may have to look at filing for bankruptcy.
This, I presume, is what President O’Bama’s bailout programme adds up to, especially in the monies being made available to the states for public works. But, aside from building tunnels to New Zealand and trying to make I-95 less of a Malthusian nightmare, there’s a basic problem in that the federal government is basically bankrupt as well, but just won’t admit it. And this is where we enter the realms of voodoo economics. What we’re going to have is Bernanke printing shitloads of dollars, and never mind that cheap money – not least Bernanke printing shitloads of dollars – played an enormous role in getting us into this crisis in the first place. And, what might provoke a cat to laughter, the British government trying to create yet more cheap money.
Yes, if there’s any major economy heading up shit creek at a rate of knots, it’s the Brits. It helps, you know, to have something fundamentally sound you can fall back on. The Chinese and Japanese and Germans have economies that make stuff – there may not be many buyers, but they do still have the capacity. The Russians have their natural resources. The Yanks, if nothing else, have a currency everybody else wants.
And what does Gordon Brown have? On Radio Galloway you often hear George growling, “Brown’s got no balls. He’s got no balls except Ed Balls.” To be honest, he ain’t got much else in the way of industrial capacity or natural resources. That’s why all you’re getting from Alistair Darling, who obviously doesn’t remember much about crisis economics from his Marxist-Leninist days, can only come out with populist gestures on bank bonuses and crackpot schemes to reflate the housing bubble.
Ye gods, it’s depressing. You would really need an Ernest Mandel to make some sense of the situation, and look at what we’ve got. Just a load of pish and vinegar.