Every major stock market in the world was up today. I’ve absolutely no idea why: I still think of such markets as barometers of economic and national confidence, but in this regard too, I’ve no idea why. It clearly isn’t so. I read this afternoon that the decision by Fitch not to downgrade France had caused a surge in European stocks. This strikes me as like Bruce Willis pushing an approaching asteroid down towards Antarctica, and thus causing a surge in Chicago property. It makes a few seconds short term sense, but not much more.
Veteran Sloggers have heard me witter on ad nauseam about the neurotic uselessness of Bourses as a means of raising capitalist finance, but in recent weeks these loons have surpassed themselves in being about as relevant as a 1949 Popeye cartoon when it comes to being a barometer of anything beyond spinach sales.
Those who report within and on behalf of sovereign governments are not much better. I have reached the conclusion that when it comes to describing what is happening in the world, these folks need an entirely new range of descriptors. I heard several times during the day that “Britain falling back into recession is not yet inevitable”. Are they kidding? When I was a nipper, what we’re experiencing now would’ve been a deeply – even bipolar depressed – slump: how completely on its arse does the UK economy have to be before somebody is prepared to say, “Yeh shag it – it’s crap”? Just as the US seems determined to get the cheerleaders out for the Jobless Recovery, so Britain seems equally intent on applauding the Painless Disaster as if it might be our salvation. “Ah yes,” says Rockfist Ralph from Romney Marshes in the Daily Mail comment threads, “Bring on this weedy recession thing and by gad sir, we shall spit on it! People shall say a thousand years hence, after our decades of content, this was now our finest hour of gloriously grinding poverty.”
The last few days have been relatively silent on the subject of the Emperor Euro’s fate. Christine Lagarde previously declared him an immortal Deity, a supercurrency destined one day to rule the Fourth constellation of the Milky Thing marginally to the left of the Drongo Andromeda; but those who lack faith are denying Him thrice to the power of thrice, so what are we to think? As these feckless detractors include most of the markets and a growing minority of those in power in Berlin, it could be – only an outside chance, mind – that he is a false god.
This afternoon while knocking out another missive designed to change all the bollocks that led to this, I found myself on the Jango online music station listening to John Lee Hooker singing One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Bill. And it occurred to me that JLH had summed up the problem in six words – until I spotted the ‘and’ in there, and remembered that the total was seven. But sum it up he had: we got absolutely pissed for ages, and now this is the bill.
One of the few celebrities capable of grasping this is Eric Cantona, who today announced his decision to run for the Presidency of France. He requires just 500 signatures to take part – a task which seems to be beyond him, although it represents a mere 0.00063% of the votes he will need to win. Eric is, of course, one of the most talented footballers of all time – but in matters off the field, entirely mad. Perhaps this is what one needs today in order to summon up the courage to take on those in charge. Certainly, last year he tried to organise a mass boycott of the banks, which did as I recall persuade one old lady in Toulon to withdraw her life savings from BNP/Paribas. The shine was slightly taken off this success by the fact that the lady was his auntie.
I have no doubt that many see tilting at windmills – and slogging at Tescos – as a hopeless task. But if nobody does anything, the bad guys and illusionists will win without so much as a fight. There is absolutely no escaping that logic, and no answer to it: shall we all lie down and accept rape as inevitable? Or would we rather lose as the followers of Spartacus – fighting to the end? I have no great physical courage, but I would rather the latter.
There is something dottily courageous about people like Cantona. And there is something horribly dangerous about people like Papademos, Sarkozy, Merkel, Monti, Geithner, and van Rompuy. Perhaps they are nothing more than two sides of madness. But one entertains harmlessly, while the other destroys with certainty. The choice between them is, as the young people have it, a no-brainer.