Is it asking too much of the MSM to be able to add up?

Fooling all the people all of the time

Christine Lagarde: the woman who turns pots into umbrellas, and $165bn of pledges into $430bn in cash.

Those of you awake over the last six days will have noticed that, last Monday afternoon, Christine Lagarde told European media hounds that she didn’t need any more money for the eurozone. Last Thursday, however, she told the IMF shindig in the US that she needed ‘cooperation and additional funding to fend off the next eurocrisis.’

This is what the bollocks-talkers do in the age of 24/7 ‘news’: ‘don’t worry if you tell a lie and somebody notices, there’ll be another one along in a minute, and then they’ll start thinking about that one.’

Largarde’s Megawhopper of mendacity at the minute, however, is the size of this new bazooka she’s building. And you’d never believe it but, do you know, the numbers don’t, um, add up, as such. But this time she pulled a stunt, and nobody noticed.

Last Tuesday, the sum total in the fund was $60bn from Tokyo, and £10bn from Draper the Dingbat in London (‘George Osborne is a fan, having recommended [Lagarde] to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn after his resignation last May’). Being generous here, my maths make that $75bn. She originally wanted $500bn, but as this was obviously not on anyone’s agenda, Frufru decided two weeks ago that she mis-spoke re that one, and the real number is $400bn.

By Thursday, she was able to tell Bloomberg that the pot had quadrupled to £320bn: it was no longer a pot, it had morphed into an umbrella:

“I look at this pot of money as an umbrella,” Lagarde told Bloomberg Television’s “In Business With Margaret Brennan” in Washington before meetings of the world’s finance chiefs. “There are clouds on the horizon.” And pots don’t cut it during those April showers, right? Hey presto – it’s an umbrella.

However, the only new donors she could conjure up for Bloomberg TV were Denmark and Switzerland. So, like they stumped up $125bn each? We are not worthy.

By Friday, the total…er, umbrella was $430bn. As you’d expect, the ever-gullible New York Times described Chrissie’s new money as “rolling in”. “I’m going to spend, spend, spend!” said vivacious 34-22-36 Franco-American beauty-with-brains woman Frufru.

This time we were given a list, however. ‘$60 billion from Japan; $15 billion each from Britain, Saudi Arabia and South Korea, and smaller amounts from countries including Sweden, Norway, Poland, Australia, Denmark and Singapore. The smaller amounts weren’t quantified:

OK, so 60 + (3×15) = $105bn. Let’s be generous and say the other six gave $10bn each: that gives us a grand total of $165bn which, research tends to show, is not $430bn – in fact it’s well south of $320bn. Like, 47% south of it.

Now the trick here is easy to discern. Lagarde has simply moved on from saying she wanted another $400bn to suggesting she wanted to double the total to $400bn…which, she claims, has been exceeded. But Chrissie the mathematical magician never once mentioned a starting total of $200bn until yesterday (Friday).

This from US News – or any other MSM – two days ago: ‘Last week, Lagarde scaled back her IMF fundraising target. She said that a $500 billion goal she had set in January could be reduced because of steps Europe has taken and stronger growth globally. She declined to specify how much less funding the IMF needs.’

The New York Times fell for it hook, line and sinker by leading its piece with ‘has raised at least $430 billion in extra lending capacity’. In fact, she’s raised roughly 38% of that. (This is the reason you should never let liberals run the budgets: they can’t add up. That truism in turn explains why the BBC said Lagarde had ‘pledges of $430bn of extra funds’. That’ll be Bobby Peston of Common Purpose, then…who also can’t add up.)

And of course, thus far she only has ‘pledges’. Well, we all know how much G20 pledges are worth, do we not?

It’s hard to know which make one most angry: over-privileged liars of zero creative ability, or over-paid hacks too lazy to sit in front of a calculator for two minutes.

Footnote. Her Majesty’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt. Hon George Osborne, on the abilities of Christine Lagarde: “Her appointment to the IMF post is good news for the global economy and Britain, since she is the best person for the job”. (Autumn 2011)

There was one other person – a Mexican – on the shortlist.