EUROBLOWN: Olli Rehn and the Spanish Inquisition


Talking about Spain’s massive undershoot of deficit reduction from the latest European Commission report, Olli Rehn said today, “It seems the structural fiscal effort has been undertaken and that there has also been an unexpected shortfall of growth, but we’ll have to verify this.”

Thus the austerity which was always going to kill growth produced a shortfall, but somehow Olli judged it to be unexpected and in need of verification. Is it just me, or do other Europeans resent paying even 0.001% (let alone 20%) of their taxes to employ the reincarnation of Mad Professor Jerry Lewis in a position of EU-wide fiscal responsibility? In fact, I am here to tell you that this is a somewhat Lewisist observation, given that Dean Martin’s long-time comedy partner was actually a very bright man indeed. Olli Rehn is a very stupid man, but can you imagine him trying to act stupid and make it funny? No, neither can I.

I realise that my attack here might be thought gratuitous, but on the other hand that position could only be entertained if you were from a distant planet where everyone was a total jerk, and you knew nothing of Rehn’s history. I’d prefer to think that my opinion of Mr Rehn is magnanimous rather than gratuitous, because ‘very stupid’ is an astonishingly restrained way to describe a person of such profound brain superficiality. (Careful readers will spot that description as a subtle parody of the EC’s mendacious Stalinist strangulation of English in particular, and the Truth in general).

His mandate as European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro took effect on 11 February 2010, so whichever way you cut this one, the bloke is implicated in the hard-to-deny eurozone plunge into an abyss of diarrohrea since his appointment. Maybe it was just bad timing on his part, but a great deal of belief suspension is required to overcome the connection between economic, monetary and euro in his job title on the one hand, and Olli Ilmari Rehn born Finland 31st March 1962 the person with zero charisma on the other.

Rehn’s fellow Finns fought a courageous and highly effective Winter War against Stalinist Russia in 1940, but unfortunately there weren’t enough useful genes left over afterwards to spawn any Finnish EU politicians with recognisable spinal cords reliably connected to the head. So it was that in the Winter Wank of 2012, the EU Commissioner’s department forecast how ‘leading indicators suggest that GDP in the EU is now bottoming out, and economic activity is expected to gradually accelerate. The pick-up in growth will initially be driven by increasing external demand. Domestic investment and consumption are projected to recover later in the year, and by 2014 domestic demand is expected to take over as the main driver of strengthening GDP growth.’

As there is no way to construct that outlook without taking extended leave of one’s senses, I suppose deconstruction of bollocks is once more the required diagnosis. The expectation of increasing external demand is confounded by pretty much every last output figure from Beijing to Buenos Aires, while the rescue party called 2014 domestic demand was wiped out by austerity some time ago. But let’s not take anything away from Commissioner Rehn, who at least had the temerity to add his own personal signature to this cobblers as follows:

“We have disappointing hard data from the end of last year, some more encouraging soft data in the recent past, and growing investor confidence in the future. The decisive policy action undertaken recently is paving the way for a return to recovery. We must stay the course of reform and avoid any loss of momentum, which could undermine the turnaround in confidence that is underway, delaying the needed upswing in growth and job creation.”

If I can just translate this statement into words, it appears that the feedback of millions contradicts what fully nine of Olli’s cronies have told him about sales uplifts in the Turkish Quarter of Trieste. Further, one or two more inexplicably bullish sovereign bond buyers might now touch French debt issues with a half-length bargepole, and so it is absolutely vital to continue with the policy of decisively destroying all entrepreneurial risk (in favour of propping up money-laundering banks) so as to create the kind of jobs that need only then wait for somebody to start a business which might make use of them.

There is a near endless range of nouns one could use to sum up European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Euro Olli Rehn. But call me wacky, for some reason they remind me of that wonderful 1970s ad created for Pepsi by UK agency BMP. It used minimal punctuation and some alliteration to produce the idea of lipsmackinthirstquenchinPepsi. Some forty years later, I am that retired adman having fantasies about an EU Commissioner campaign slogan that goes



Earlier at The Slog: Why breaking news isn’t everything