No year is of course responsible for what we humans get up to during its course. But then again, the very concept of a year would not exist without us. In this sense, it is not illegitimate to farewell 2010 with a sense of outrage at what it brought us. So, what did it bring? Paul Krugman ends the year with the conclusion that it brought us geloiocracy; that is, rule by the ridiculous. I prefer the verdict that it brought us a combination of ptochotrapezocracy (rule by the bankrupted banks) and idiotocracy, especially here in Europe (for reasons that I really do not feel the need to enter into).
To bid 2010 farewell I have the an urge to list the main fallacies that 2010 dished out and rendered respectable. So, here I go:
- The commonly held view, especially by the media, that the European crisis was caused by the fiscal profligacy of the peripheral European countries.
- The touching confidence of our European leaders that the problems of insolvency of indebted states, like Greece, could be dealt with by means of new, gigantic loans at high interest rates and on the condition that the country’s GDP shrinks as a result of savage cuts in public expenditure and steep increases in indirect taxation.
- The unheard of decision (A) by the Greek government not to negotiate with the EU and the IMF the terms and conditions of its €110 billion loan (and of the austerity measures that came along with it), and (B) by the Irish government to guarantee not only the failed banks’ depositors but also their bondholders.
- The stubborn insistence by our peripheral governments that a default in 2010 would be catastrophic but that an agreement that leads with mathematical precision to an equally certain default three years hence, when debt will have risen against a falling GDP, should be thought of as a ‘bail out’.
- The demeaning attitude that small, indebted countries should simply accept their lot and keep quiet, refraining from putting forward proposals (at European Council meetings) on how to deal with the crisis rationally and centrally at a pan-European level.
- The unbearable lightness with which the same failed economists who, prior to 2008, had not even allowed for the mere possibility of the crisis, are now prognosticating that austerity will yield recovery on the basis of the same voodoo economics that brought us the Crash of 2008.
Now that it is all said and done, it is time we all stop blogging and have some genuine fun with which to imprint a modicum of hopefulness upon the fledgling 2011.
A happy 2011 to all.