Hapless Hollow Men Whimpering While Trying To Solve The World’s Economic Problems
I look at the world’s economic problems these days and my mind turns to poetry. I think of W.H. Auden’s tragically appropriate poem, September 1, 1939, which speaks of “…hapless governors wake/to renew their compulsory games/who can release them now…” And of the last lines of T.S. Eliot’s Hollow Men: “This is the way the world ends/This is the way the world ends/Not with a bang, but a whimper.”
Today I read about leaders of Europe’s big four economies (Germany, France, Italy and Spain) meeting to try, yet again, to do something constructive about their euromess. They will of course settle noting of consequences in this regard. The same way the just completed election in Greece did nothing to solve these problems The way a G-20 meeting a few days back in Mexico, a meeting of leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies, did nothing of consequence. And the way that another meeting next week of the 17 leaders of all the countries in the EU will doubtless…well, you get the idea.
Here’s the simple truth. There are no near-term nor probably mid-term solutions to these problems. The western world overspent for decades and now can’t repay the bills. Austerity won’t fix things. Neither will pumping out a lot more government issued play money because even if this didn’t generate inflation, structural idiocies generated over decades ensure that the extra lolly produced will get scooped up by the top one percent, easing the consuming capacities and pain of others not a whit.
Hapless governors. Whimpering. Meeting again and again to posture a bit more to puff up capital markets another day or two, capital markets whose primary aim is no longer to invest in productive job-creating ventures, but derivative-based gambling.
How we got here is easy to see. Where we should (and can) go next? Not at all easy to see.