Friday, February 26, 2010

Well, if Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy had practiced Anglo-Saxon Neoliberalism...

...that is, economic rationalism, they wouldn't be in the mess they are now in.

Man who broke the Bank of England, George Soros, 'at centre of hedge funds plot to cash in on fall of the euro'

Mr Soros, who made more than $1billion by currency speculation when the pound was ejected from the Exchange Rate Mechanism on Black Wednesday in 1992, believes the structure of the euro is 'patently flawed'.

Hitting back: Greek PM George Papandreou blames 'speculators' for preying on the country's troubles

He said: 'Makeshift assistance should be enough for Greece, but that leaves Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland.

'Together they constitute too large a portion of euroland to be helped in this way.'

Well yes, as neoliberals warned would happen sooner or later.

Both Greece and Italy owe more money than what their entire economies are worth.

Australia's prime minister, K R Puff'n'Fluff, may play the philosopher prince in writing long essays about how neoliberalism caused the Global Financial Crisis, (which has turned out to be not so much a global crisis, as one mostly affecting the North Atlantic), but the reality is something very different.

One message of neoliberalism is that even countries cannot go on living beyond their means forever.

Whether it is vast systems of social welfare and other government benefits that are essentially free money being given away to people, as in most of Europe, or a people financing lifestyles by way of vast borrowings from China that weren't underpinned by domestic savings and productivity, as in the United States, eventually the chickens of such excess come home to roost.

As they have, just as the much maligned neoliberals said they would.

The so-called global financial crisis has yet again shown in terrible detail the long term costs of the unlimited welfare state.

It was Margaret Thatcher who decades ago made the still relevant and now prescient observation that the trouble with socialism is that "sooner or later you run out of other people's money."

Greece has effectively run out of money. It cannot survive economically without the EU bailing it out.

Just remember though, thirty years ago it was Great Britain that had been brought to its knees for similar reasons and needing the IMF to bail it out.

No, I'm sorry kiddies, Britain prior to Margaret Thatcher was not a wonderland of plucky communities mining coal during the day and playing in volunteer brass bands and the like in their spare time until Thatcher wrecked it all.

That's the movie version of history.

The reality is that the post-war big government consensus between Labour and the Tories involving massive welfare payments and large scale government involvement in the economy had failed spectacularly.

It was the country itself that had been wrecked.

Britain was known as the "sick man of Europe." It was an international laughing stock.

Only a person as determined as Margaret Thatcher, armed with a clear and simple understanding of what had gone wrong, had any hope of restoring Britain's fortunes.

Sadly, despite Tony Blair's remark that we "are all Thatcherites now," the hard learnt lessons of this time have been forgotten.

So while Britain may not be in as bad a position as these others - maybe - it too has suffered a continuing errosion of its economic base as government spending on unproductive parts of the economy have gone up and up and up.

So much so, that at the height of the financial crisis there was even speculation that she would become a high profile victim of it.

And it maybe be not over yet. The other thing Mr Soros is doing is buying gold. Lots of gold. The suspicion is that he sees trouble ahead.

Posted via email from Garth's posterous

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