How ‘clever’ spin is destroying the EU. And how appropriate that is.
The Greek Government this morning dismissed reports of George Papandreou’s ‘imminent resignation’ as ‘nonsense’. I think that, on balance, that’s probably correct. I’m sure George considers skipping off happily to his nest-egg in Switzerland every few hours, but I suspect the hand of German mischief in the reports.
But…would you believe anything anyone told you in the EU any more?
Four days ago, the BBCNews website reported on ‘a new bailout tranche Greece needs to avoid bankruptcy in October’. Two weeks ago, the Economist asserted the same thing: ‘In the absence of this funding, Greece will run out of money in mid-October’. Last night, having decided not to decide whether Greece is in default of the Troika agreement (although it obviously is) the EU’s Finance Ministers decided not to decide on whether it should get any more until mid November. You know, people need to get their stories straight before they issue this kind of floating, movable nonsense. One or both of these parties is routinely lying to the news media. It might seem smart to them to do this, but it makes the markets increasingly cynical.
It’s a particularly dumb thing to do when you’re just about to mount your ‘bigger haircut’ hobbyhorse….even though the lenders told you three times already ‘forget it’.
People ask what I expect sovereigns to do under these circumstances, as if I might be terminally naive to expect the truth. But that kind of cynicism is just a deeper form of naivety: the truth will out in the end – it always does. Cry wolf or shout “AOK!” too many times, and the markets decide pretty quickly to go their own way.
Take the much-heralded and then hailed ‘stress’ test ‘results’ – fiddled by Christine Lagarde in order to ‘calm’ the markets. What this has done is ensure every lender now regards the EU as a bunch of pathological liars (good call, lender guys). And lo, now the Franco-Belgian rice-paper bank Dexia is in need of a rescue. Only a few short weeks ago, it got one of the higher pass-marks from the latest European regulators’ stress tests.
The age of spin was ushered in fully by the odious Lord Manglesum, and the even more mendacious Alistair Campbell. I am staggered by how many people still see their ability to spot spin as evidence of high intelligence on their part….in a sort of indirect compliment to the pillocks indulging in this pointless dissembling.
What politics in general (and the EU in particular) has lost in the years since Bill Clinton split the hairs between sexual intercourse and eccentric use of cigars is a total loss of trust.
For both electorates and politicians, this will prove disastrous in the end. For those trying to play the three-card trick with markets, the same sticky end is guaranteed. David Cameron has spectacularly failed to understand that spin is rapidly becoming yesterday…but then, he is a glib PR man. But give out too much bollocks to the markets, and that is precisely where they will kick you – as hard as possible.
In closing let me just point out that Wolfgang Schauble has once again delivered a blistering attack on borrowing to leverage debt repayment – in or out of the EFSF. That was just to ensure nobody thought Christian Noyer had hatched a good idea in Tokyo yesterday. Berlin is stonewalling while it gets its new furrow ready to be ploughed. And the French Sorbonnier Establishment – so convinced until recently that its strategy was infallible (and yes, I too got that wrong) – stands alone to face the onslaught upon l’UE du Sud.
Stay tuned. Things are developing.
Related: America bets the farm on Germany.