appreciating the finer points of disaster

The economists didn’t just single out the U.S. for criticism; 70% of participants said the response of governments around the world to the global recession has been inadequate. “The Europeans or Japanese don’t seem to be doing near enough to kickstart their economies,” said Nariman Behravesh of IHS Global Insight. “It could be we’ve done all the right things, but the rest of the world goes down the tubes.” (WSJ)

Even as the numbers rise, the numbers fall. As the numbers fall, so the numbers rise. On one side, too little is being done. On another, too much. Between all of them, I sense a fog disappearing, a growing perversity—as if, secretly, this was starting to look more like an opportunity than a disaster.

What becomes clearer with each article I read is that any modern nation is a business, a trading empire. 

“Speaking at his annual news conference — a rare opportunity for reporters to ask the premier questions directly — [Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao] voiced confidence in the Chinese government’s ability to keep its own economy growing, saying it is willing to do what it takes to ensure China meets its traditional growth target of around 8% this year.” (WSJ)

Since when did China have a “traditional growth target” of 8%? Since when did China become a mutual fund? 

Listen to Nariman Behravesh, of IHS Global Insight: “It could be we’ve done all the right things, but the rest of the world goes down the tubes.” If the rest of the world goes down the tubes, doesn’t that mean we haven’t done all the right things? 

Maybe we’re all tired of listening to that sort of reasoning. There’s reason to believe we are; look at the rhetoric of this past election, an unmitigated landslide. Maybe the two events are linked, not causually, but because of a spontaneous leap in the confidence of the public that something has gone terribly wrong.

And perhaps it has. What has caused us to view distant lands as simply market opportunities? Why is it that we insist on endless growth? I am asked, in a study book on business strategy, what is a company to do when it has “large cash reserves” and wants to grow further. Why do I feel sneaky and heretical when I suggest that perhaps the goal has been reached, and there is no reason to grow? Why the endless uphill battle? 

Look at this place:


This place and continuous, endless growth are not in the same world. Is a better world possible? Of course. Is it made real by the valuation and sale of financial products? No.




2 responses to “appreciating the finer points of disaster

  1. Curious: is there a reason you’ve decided to omit the author’s name from each entry?

  2. this author is the child of his father.

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