You know those reports you see occasionally in the press about people drowning and how a crowd of spectators gathers to comment but no one does anything to help? That's an image which comes to mind when I think about the current assault by the financial markets against several European countries, most notably Greece. Except there is an important difference, apart from the spectators we have a group of people off to one side who place bets on whether those in the water will drown or not. Whenever they do, the same gamblers then select the next victim so that the spectacle doesn't end. If anyone looks like bucking the trend then they get their head held under the water for a while.
Greece is now being treated to modern capitalism's very own version of medieval medicine. The patients will not get better unless they are made much, much sicker than they were in the first place. You're looking a bit poorly, the best thing is for you to be left to bleed for a few years until it gets better. What happens if the patient dies? No problem, shit happens. Anyway, the next one will be along in a minute and payment was charged in advance. I was completely wrong when I thought that the next crisis would follow the previous one after a short interval, we are now living in the age of permanent recession as countries see any prospects of recovery smashed by the very same people who did so much to provoke the original crisis.
The commentators who support the gamblers like to entertain us with legends of Greeks who retire before they are old enough to work, but it won't be Greek pensioners who will be sipping mojitos on Caribbean beaches as a result of this crisis. It's those who are doing the betting who will enjoy the benefits of a comfortable early retirement. With the added advantage that they get applauded for it by the same people who criticise anyone else who gets such a privilege.
As we saw yesterday, all it takes is one fuckwit to start a false rumour, and a whole bunch of other fuckwits then spend the day doing everything they can to spread the same rumour. It all seems like lunacy, but there is a whole bevy of commentators and sleepwalkers who will, a posteriori, always find perfectly rational reasons to explain what has happened. Who cares whether it's genuine or not. The best thing about the current crisis for those busy earning a living out of it is that each further attack creates a state that can be used to justify the next one. "They're having problems paying their debts, so we have to make it more expensive for them to do it". "Oh, we've pushed them further into recession, better downgrade their credit rating".
I read a report a report last week of how traders had a "crazy, fun week" stuffing the future for yet another country. It's leading to a ridiculous situation where the prospect of an Argentinian style "corralito" becomes more real. More than anything because defaulting on debt will start to look more attractive for those running the countries concerned than implementing measures whose main effect is to prolong indefinitely the recession in the affected country. Of course such a corralito affects millions of people who might have a bit of money saved from doing real work, whilst the wealthy usually have their money stashed somewhere else. If anyone has seen any sign that the markets are not prepared to take their victims to that extreme then please point me to it. It's pointless to criticise the governments for not doing the right kind of reforms, the Greek example demonstrates that nothing will be enough whilst the opportunity to profit from the crisis remains.
So many millions of people now face a future even more uncertain than that which existed a few short months ago. Trapped into this situation by a political class that talked so smoothly of reinventing capitalism, but which has instead buckled at the first push from financial institutions rescued at public expense and who bring nothing to the table but who take so much away. Insanity in motion. They say it can be dangerous to wake up sleepwalkers, but surely not when they are about to take us all over a cliff?