At the End of the Day.

With one mighty bound, modern Man goes from textbook shibboleths to infantile fairy tales

The nonsense continues in EuroDisney. Geithner’s €2 trillion bingo-bango has been grumpily slammed back on the table, but there’s no damage to the table, because the bingo-bango is content free. France and Germany have agreed on the €2 trillion says the Telegraph (but Merkel and the banks say they haven’t), while the little-lamented departure of Jean-Claude Trichet into his maison de retraite has been accompanied by another flat refusal to comply with any plans involving his ECB having to fork out again. Rather than change the ways of the ECB, says Trichet, the EU needs to change its Treaty. He is, I’m afraid, right…but the observation isn’t helpful when something needs to happen over the next fourteen days. A Treaty change would take fourteen years unless it involved the CAP policy, in which case it would take as long as France remains a nation state.

As I posted on Friday, I’m not going to give any more serious attention to this farrago of fiction and contradiction until something important happens. I suspect Signor Draghi will have something to do with that, but we’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, let me if I may offer you some thoughts on Life After Meltdown.

We had two close chums to stay this weekend, both of whom are still in the swim of hugely enjoyable corporate life. One half of the couple is pitching for some communications business tomorrow. The client has issued a brief of such amateurish banality that nobody knows which way to hold it up. He (I say ‘he’, it’s a committee of 12) is going to see all the presentations in one day tomorrow (one hour per agency, from 9 am to 7 pm).  If anyone is still alive after that, there’ll be a follow-up meeting in which the client’s worst, most blinkered compliance drongos – the purchasing screw-merchants – will ensure that nobody could run the account at a profit without employing dweebdroids with a 3rd in media studies….which is of course exactly what they’ll do.

My chum ( an old and valued friend) is heading the pitch, and trying very hard in an overfished market to keep going in the face of cuts from Head Office. Sleep is proving difficult for this person – and has for some time. Everyone in the sector seems to be the same. It is, without doubt, the unacceptable face of employment deregulation – with margins getting thinner and thinner as one goes down the food chain.

It’s a snapshot, I know. But it is entirely typical. Every former colleague or mate I’ve come across in the last year tells me the same story of 7-day weeks, no switching the corporate mobile off, and amateurish, poorly trained marketing management….whose incompetence is exacerbated by bean-counters who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. It was becoming pretty awful when I called it a day: now it sounds to me like a waking nightmare.

It is however just another facet of the grubby, rough diamond know as Friedmanite capitalism, without doubt the most insane yet cleverly delivered scam in history, until Theodore Levitt (another idiot) invented the fictitious Global village, from which followed Globalist mercantilism. Only investment banking and high-speed, deep-pool bourse trading have equalled the madness in recent times – although the Geithner EU bailout plan is trying hard for the top spot as I write. When it came to delusional economic ideas in the period 1970-2011, there was no problem about missing one, because another one was always on its way round the bend.

A remarkably small number of people, in the final summation, are responsible for the socio-econo-fiscal disaster that emerged from all the greed-through-academia drivel. In rough order of appearance in the farce How we Lost our Marbles, I would list the main cast as Milt Friedman, Ted Levitt, the Saatchi brothers, Ronald Reagan, Baroness Thatcher, Adam Applegarth, Alan Greenspan, Hank Paulson, Gordon Brown and, of late, Bob Diamond. (I’m letting Keith Joseph off on the grounds of diminished responsibility. Lloyd Blankfein is not included because  he’s done nothing apart from watch it all happen, get rich, and wet his pants laughing at the gullibility of taxpayers.)

Just to quantify how potty the ideas of all these people were/are, I offer you this pithy summary of their beliefs:

1. Friedman. The free-market economy ushered in democratic government in Chile. (It actually ushered in seven long years of negative growth…or as real people would call it, falling wealth…and then a decade of Pinochet.)

2. Ted Levitt. The Frenchman in the XIV arondissement has more in common with the American in Manhattan than he does with the Frenchman in the XVI. (And you really do have to be utterly brain-bonged to think that.)

3. The Saatchi brothers. All brands will soon be global, and therefore local ads to take local culture into account will be redundant. (Shortly after this gem, the Saatchis tried to launch a takeover bid for Midland Bank. A few years later, the Saatchi Group broke up in disarray.)

4. Ronald Reagan. If we make the rich richer, wealth will trickle down and make everyone else much richer too. (I know, I know….)

5. Baroness Thatcher. There is no such thing as society, or nasty people in smart suits who work in the City.

6. Adam Applegarth. Northern Rock’s business plan was based on the robust assumption that in the new paradigm, wholesale borrowing rates would never rise again. (Mr Applegarth now runs a golf driving range)

7. Alan Greenspan. There’s nothing to worry about, loose monetary policy is good for growth…and the Republicans. (2004)

8. Hank Paulson. If Congress doesn’t vote the $780 billion by tomorrow, the Earth will implode. (To this day, nobody has been able to audit exactly what happened to the money.)

9. Gordon Brown. I offer the House today a Budget for growth through to the long term, a Budget for long-lasting British prosperity. (Gordoom said this in 2006, eighteen months before the first run on the banks for 180 years took place – see Adam Applegarth above.)

10. Bob Diamond. There was a period of remorse and apology for banks, that period needs to be over. And….My aim is to create a bank entirely free from retail depositors. (Unfortunately, this bloke has a brain…so he is very dangerous indeed.)

Tonight on the BBC, the demonstrators in the City were dismissed as ‘anti-capitalist’. Apart from being partly untrue, it did tend to contradict the standard view of Auntie as a hotbed of Bolshevism. In truth, I think the BBC is socially Left, and economically Right – or in other words, vaguely arse about face: but that’s not important right now. What bothers me is (1) as usual, it’s the hairy nutters who want the media to photograph them, (2) it’s the Establishment who desperately need to the rest of us written off as hairy nutters, (3) the centre-to-Right media are as ever willing to fall in with this bollocks, and (4) The Guardian will continue to pretend that the demonstrators are a cross-section of British society…which is even bigger bollocks: unfeasibly gonadic, in fact.


Where am I going with this? Simply here: the bureaucrats, pols and mainstream media have shown themselves unable to escape ‘business as usual’ thinking since 2008. And that business is itself based on almost entirely crazy economic ideas from the last thirty years – and especially the last ten. Those ideas have produced lousy life balance, obscene wealth disparities, a banking bust, unmanageable debt…with potentially far worse to come.

So the real need now is for some grounded, creative approaches to a bigger problem than industrialised Man has yet faced.

But this unbalanced belief in the past has, over the last three weeks, been ditched in favour of headless delusional mode. The belief is now in Spiderman, Father Christmas, Tooth Fairies, and the descent of $2 trillion from Heaven.

We thus find ourselves with leaders who have gone from a security blanket in the crib, to pinning all their future hopes on beliefs the rest of us left behind in the Nursery.

As my Jewish accountant Maury said many years ago after a disastrous first year in business, “Now you should worry”.