12 October 2008

bathe in entrails

As Kocccchie and mates unload a series of contradictory stories meant to reassure, inform, or terrify us, I decided to retreat to the study to ponder the entrails. I quickly - well, relatively quickly - realised that Koccccccccchie's show couldn't do all three simultaneously. OK, so it was just entertainment, doled up in spades by some weird Pom in classic 1980s banker attire of braces and media-friendly tie. I wish I had some of the drugs he was evidently on and for the first time I regretted that VVB-by-the-sea had at last scaled beyond the 51cm television: this bloke (and his fantastic teeth) seemed likely to explode through the screen and eat the sofa on which I was sitting.

Fortunately, the calm, reassuringly wonkish persona of the PM appeared. However, rather than the usual backdrop of a Parliament House study with sombre, leather-tooled law books and a dozen Australian flags, he was back cast (technical term should be ?) against Parliament House itself. But the camera was pointing slightly up at him which, combined with close-up and his unnaturally large head, made him look like some scary sky-daddy looking down on his subjects and lecturing them about very bad things.

Well maybe he was, but it looked extremely bizarre and made me very glad I hadn't got into the pharmaceutical cabinet in advance. Not that I do that any more, of course...

Anyway, back to the entrails. The first entrails were of one George W Bush, but they include other interesting entrails - the Washington Consensus, known to its close supporters as TINA.

But it looks like there was an alternative after all:

We should have invested more in infrastructure, tightened regulation of the securities markets, and taken additional steps to promote energy conservation. We fell short because of politics and lack of money—and also, frankly, because special interests sometimes shaped the agenda more than they should have.
And the sentence that comes before those:

The global-trade agreements we pushed through were often unfair to developing

No shit, Sherlock, as they say. The argument in favour: governments get elected to pursue the national interest. The response: even when it's wrong.

As many as 1.7 million Americans are expected to lose their homes in the months
ahead. For many, this will mean the beginning of a downward spiral into poverty.

Globalization means that America’s economy and the rest of the world have become increasingly interwoven. Consider those bad American mortgages. As families default, the owners of the mortgages find themselves holding worthless pieces of paper. The originators of these problem mortgages had already sold them to others, who packaged them, in a non-transparent way, with other assets, and passed them on once again to unidentified others.

When the problems became apparent, global financial markets faced real tremors: it was discovered that billions in bad mortgages were hidden in portfolios in Europe, China, and Australia, and even in star American investment banks such as Goldman Sachs and Bear Stearns. Indonesia and other developing countries—innocent bystanders, really—suffered as global risk premiums soared, and investors pulled money out of these emerging markets, looking for safer havens. It will take years to sort out this mess.

The article is (sort of predictably) by former IMF Director Joseph Stiglitz, but it's a nice way to reinforce your beliefs if Joseph's are the sort of beliefs you believe in.

Oh, dinner.

Entrails, I imagine.

(sometime later...)

Well I should be working - I did bring work home - but then I got back to the entrails and the next ones that popped up, if that's indeed what entrails do, were these. Yes, we read that the next generation will the first to suffer a reduced standard of living. This article seems to argue, from a very small sample, that it won't be such a bad thing and anyway no-one will care too much.

That's a rather brave generalisation I think. If America has stopped investing in R&D, as per the earlier linked article, then where will the next i-Pod come from because all the youngies seem to want their i-Pod and similar toys. More to the point, what will be the next invention to have pod in its name (have you noticed how pods are everywhere now)?

Brought up to expect a higher standard of living - actually, I'm not sure what my parents brought me up to expect, now I come to think of it - and then caught up in the consumerist craze of the 80s and since, VVB has been busily acquiring things for a while now. But we still don't have nearly as many things as many other ostensibly similar households and we certainly don't take the overseas and expensive domestic holidays that other people do.

I wish we had some money in the bank so that the PM could come around and personally reassure us that it's safe, but shit, all we have is debt and superannuation.

Like a lot of others.

Call it a low-grade drug habit.


Ann O'Dyne said...

oh dear.
I honestly do hope your super fund did not invest with Reyjavik for the higher interest offered.
Geelong's Pyramid Bank offered 17% (was it 1990 ?) and a lotta people got bad burns.
I only have debt, which I am sure the bank can call in - unfortunately I own nothing they can take off me, so I have no idea what their next step would be.
peace and love

phil said...

They can't take your peace and love, of that you can be sure.

Same back atcha.

JahTeh said...

I'm waiting to see if our local council has been investing overseas as have some. If they have then I'm glad I'm paying off my rates at $50 a fortnight. Last week I paid the last on the 2007 and next week I start on 2008 and as long as I pay something they can't touch me.

That's So Pants said...

Hi Phil

Well, I think it will all be fine. The idea that comsumer goods bring us happiness was a marketing confidence trick that everyone secretly knows doesn't work. These goods proliferated to sop up disposable income so, in a way, were the solution to a problem that was in itself a construct and will cease to exist. We'll soon find better things to do with our time than shop. Sex, drugs, R'n'R anyone?



phil said...

Oh Pants, I are with you 100%. Have just returned from the annual boys' own annual attempt to be 21 again...we're not, but crikey it's fun trying. Will write about it later.

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