Monday, June 04, 2012

The Euro Zone and Denial, or Reality Wins

After months or years of pretending that they could command the tides, it finally looks like Europe is waking up to reality. The week that Europe stopped pretending - Telegraph Whenever a "revelation" like this is realized, I think of Kipling, but more on that later.
On a single day, the European Commission said monetary union was in danger of "disintegration" and the European Central Bank said it was "unsustainable" as constructed. Their plaintive cries may have fallen on deaf ears in Berlin, but they were heard all too clearly by investors across the world.
For years, Europe has believed that the Greeks' financial woes were isolated, and manageable. Instead, it really is true that you can't live beyond your means forever. Eventually, you have to pay the piper. And it isn't only Greece that was in denial. Many countries are in denial. (It ain't just a river in Egypt after all.)

And the global economy, far from helping the Europeans is following them down. (I hope not to destruction.)
The window of opportunity offered by US recovery is slamming shut again. America’s dire jobs data for May - and the downward revision for April - confirm the fears of cycle specialists that the US economy has slipped below stall speed. America risks tanking back into recession as the "fiscal cliff" approaches late this year, unless the Fed comes to the rescue again soon.

Brazil wilted in the first quarter. India grew at the slowest pace in nine years. China’s HSBC manufacturing index fell further into contraction in May, with new orders dropping sharply and inventories rising.

We face the grim possibility that all key engines of the global system will sputter together, this time with interest rates already near zero in the West and average public debt in the OECD club already at a record 106pc of GDP.
And so, whenever the Ugly Truth™ rears its head, I am reminded of Kipling, and "The Gods of the Copybook Headings."
AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

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