Thursday, July 23, 2009

Green shoots

Enough already. I think I’d like commentators, analysts
and assorted businesspersons to stop talking about the
‘green shoots’ of economic recovery now. They’ve
parroted this inane phrase so often that they’re starting
to sound like Chance the gardener. But then,
notwithstanding the power they wield, the suits they
wear, the ludicrous amounts of money they deal in and
the air of unimpeachable authority they emit, the worlds
of finance and business are really only a step away from
the sandpit and the playground, which are located right
by the garden in which it seems green shoots are
supposed to grow and the wintry weeds of recession
wither and die! Or something.

This can be seen any day in the business pages of
newspapers or in the increasingly meaningless
daily sharemarket reports that television and radio
stations love to present as if they had any real meaning,
let alone news value. In a recent Dominion Post column,
for instance, Terry Hall refers to the ‘constant war
between bulls and bears’ and the concern, borne by the
bulls, that the green shoots might be ‘nipped in the bud,’
as the bears predict. Yes. Not surprisingly, in the
circumstances, reports Hall, there has been a lot of
‘unusually skittish behaviour’ in offshore markets,
involving ‘wild price swings…as investors gamble about
what is in store.’

This would be an absurdist farce if it weren’t for the
power the markets have to influence the real economy—
you know, the one where people actually work and make
and do things with a practical purpose, the one where 99
percent of the human races lives. Yet it’s hard not to crack
a sick smile when you keep hearing about how the markets
need certainty and reassurance from governments and
'meaningful forecasts' from companies so that informed
investors can be wisely guided in their decision-making.
Hallo? The real world has to provide certainty for the
artificial one so that they can flick quadrillions around
the world 24/7 looking for quick profits? Aren't they the
same markets that recently imploded in a blancmange of
unsecured debt and crazily over-extended credit?

The kicker, of course, is that for all the sound and the fury
from world leaders saying Something Must Be Done About
It, very little is Going To Be Done—certainly not anything
that impinges on the right of investors and speculators to
go on doing exactly as they will, whatever the damage. And
that's so funny you could cry.

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