Modestly Proposing Austerity
Damn Paul Krugman. I was halfway through what I imagines to be a dazzling riff on "A Modest Proposal" last night when I gave up (due to food stupor) and woke up this morning to his NY Times column on Ireland. Oh well, his is far more enlightening, as you might imagine:
The Irish story began with a genuine economic miracle. But eventually this gave way to a speculative frenzy driven by runaway banks and real estate developers, all in a cozy relationship with leading politicians. The frenzy was financed with huge borrowing on the part of Irish banks, largely from banks in other European nations.
Then the bubble burst, and those banks faced huge losses. You might have expected those who lent money to the banks to share in the losses. After all, they were consenting adults, and if they failed to understand the risks they were taking that was nobody’s fault but their own. But, no, the Irish government stepped in to guarantee the banks’ debt, turning private losses into public obligations.
Before the bank bust, Ireland had little public debt. But with taxpayers suddenly on the hook for gigantic bank losses, even as revenues plunged, the nation’s creditworthiness was put in doubt. So Ireland tried to reassure the markets with a harsh program of spending cuts.
Step back for a minute and think about that. These debts were incurred, not to pay for public programs, but by private wheeler-dealers seeking nothing but their own profit. Yet ordinary Irish citizens are now bearing the burden of those debts.
Or to be more accurate, they’re bearing a burden much larger than the debt — because those spending cuts have caused a severe recession so that in addition to taking on the banks’ debts, the Irish are suffering from plunging incomes and high unemployment.
But there is no alternative, say the serious people: all of this is necessary to restore confidence.
Read thewhole thing
I will just add this little side note, to outrage you even more:
George Osborne, the Chancellor, wants backing from EU finance ministers before imposing new bank bonus rules, in what is being seen as a further attempt to downplay the Government's "tough on banks" stance in response to City pressure.
The move comes as it has emerged that officials are in talks with the banks over a contribution of around £1bn to a "Big Society bank", that would go towards community projects in exchange for the Government quietly agreeing not to impose new rules without international agreement. Critics have reacted furiously, accusing the Government of "going soft", despite pledging a "get tough" stance on banks in the run-up to the General Election.
Austerity is for the little people who must learn to take their medicine like good parasites. Bankers cannot be subjected to any restrictions whatsoever because then there will be "uncertainty."