Posts Tagged ‘inflation

16
Mar
09

Today’s top stories: Cheer up, you miserable gits

Today’s Sunday Tribune was just the most bizarre thing I’ve read in months. Ok, I can appreciate what they were trying to do, and given the moaning I’ve had about constant pessimism in the media I’d be a hypocrite for attacking a newspaper just for taking a positive stand. Some optimistic reports on this recession were certainly welcome. But jasus, they went a bit mad with the happy rays of sunshine.

In case you missed it, they called it “Guaranteed Positive”, complete with a suitable play on the old Guaranteed Irish logo. “Remember, the future we see is the future we’ll get,” warned Miss Hegarty’s editorial, which rather dramatically appeared on the front page. At least the splash was comparatively more composed in its buoyancy, with a headline declaring, “We’ll return to full employment within six years, ERSI predicts.” Uplifting, perhaps, but we really have to wait until 2015 to find a job. The front page item that really caught my attention, however, was a banner on the very top declaring the paper to be “an issue dedicated to positive thinking and a fresh perspective on the Great Recession”. So it’s the Great Recession now, not some silly, everyday recession unworthy of capitals. This was the most depressing angle on the recession that I’ve encountered so far.

The content within the newspaper did little to cheer me up. There were some interesting pieces on people whose businesses are picking up in recent month, second-hand clothes shops and renewable energy companies and the like. The problem with this is that, logically, if the economy does pick up, as they promise, these companies can expect a drop in their revenues. Worse is the “Why Irish eyes should be smiling” segments, where various Irish dignitaries provided a few paragraphs on the positives or our current condition. These range from somewhat qualified, highly specific reasons to be happy to downright fantasies.

I don’t have room to discuss them all, so I’m just going to highlight what I feel was the worst, that being one by businessman Gerry Robinson (I’m not sure if I’m supposed to have heard of him, but I haven’t). He claims, “We’re like a rowing boat badly rocked by a big storm that was not of our making.” Not true! This is a big storm that we are very much responsible for. In fact, we should grateful to the big storm for punishing us for sailing in waters we had no business in to begin with. After opening with the “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” paragraph from A Tales of Two Cities and asking if it sounds familiar (it doesn’t. This isn’t an age of wisdom in bad times. It’s an age of desperately groping around dark looking for exits but finding only deeper holes), he points out, “We’re hurt and we’re looking for someone to blame.”

He goes on, “Probably there are some people in Ireland who carry a bit of blame, but not many.” Wrong again. We are ALL to blame, every one of us. We allowed ourselves to be blinded by easy credit-based (ie, non-existent) wealth and as a result bankrupted ourselves. We also recognised the failures of our government in providing to our society’s weakest members (sick, elderly, schools, etc) yet voted for them anyway, because we were sure this was the crowd to keep us in pocket money. We tolerated wasteful spending of public money because, well, there was plenty more where that came from. And now there a backlash against the government because their bubble has burst. But guess what, we’re as much to blame as they are.

Of course Gerry highlights the inevitability of all this. “Things have gone wrong. They were always going to. The kind of success that Ireland has enjoyed simply couldn’t last forever,” he claims, admittedly quite correctly. However, if it was that obvious why did the government continue to rely on a housing market that was clearly heading for a downturn for its tax revenue? Why did we continue to raise wages under the guise of “social partnership”, fuelling inflation and making the country uncompetitive for multinationals? Why did we place blind faith in Seanie Fitz and the likes for our banking system? It’s true that there is an international banking crisis, yet even with this our banks look like that of a third world country. Even years before this banking crisis hit, foreign investors knew to stay out of Ireland.

The highlight of the paper for me is the “20 people who will save Ireland,” unbelievable as any superheroes yarn it’s made to resemble. I mean, Brendan Drumm, the man who couldn’t fix the health service during the good years, is now going to do this in bad times? There’s Bono, who they feebly speculate will move back the businesses U2 shipped to the Netherlands to avoid paying tax. And as for Giovanni Trapattoni, that’s just taking the piss.

I really hate to sound so cynical. I know there’s too much of that these days and I know the Trib was just trying to combat some of this. But devoting the entire paper to such up-beatism smacks of propaganda, the worst “Kitchener’s Army” kind of propaganda that sprung up during world wars to assure people everything will be tickity-boo if you just do your part. A level of this is of course needed, but the way it appeared in today’s Sunday Tribune is just misleading.

10
Jan
09

Economists need to shut the fuck up

They’re at it again. Today’s Irish Times has a piece about how economists are predicting 10% jobless rates by the middle of the year. Fás economist Brian McCormick went even further, saying we’ll reach 12% by the end of 2009. He warned, “the immediate future for the jobs market depended on the impact of a weak sterling and the credit crunch on the retail sector, as well as the way in which migration trends respond to the changes in the economic environment,” which pulls the simultaneous trick of sounding suitably dire and blaming the immigrants for it. The Indo has a similar piece, which states, “Some economists secretly admitted that their official estimates could be conservative and jobless queues may reach levels not seen since the 1980s.” It’s enough to wonder why we bother getting out of bed.

Well, you know what? Fuck them! The one thing I’ve learn from this whole recession is that there’s nothing quite so useless as an economist. These are the swaggering dickheads who failed to see the recession coming, and let the government get away with wasting money on services that don’t work, giving tax breaks to the country’s super-rich, criminally inflating the housing market, and generally take us all of a fantastic voyage on the good ship “Celtic Tiger”, which sunk like a stone after the first strike of an ice-cube (explained here better than I ever could). If these economists advised banks to invest their (our) money in an online casino they’d have been laughed out of a job. This, on reflection, would have been a far safer option. At least online gambling doesn’t create massive – and quite unmistakable – market bubbles. Ok, there were some economists warning of a possible crisis, but the ease with which these few voices of sanity were ignored largely proves my point that all economists useless. Remember when Bertie suggested that people warning of an economic slowdown should kill themselves and be done with it? I’d love to know what the miserable tit-bag makes of that comment now.

So, now that we’re in the middle of a slump that these knobjockeys helped lead us to, they’re trying to make us feel worse by convincing us there’s no way out of it anytime soon. Well, they can shove their predictions up their holes, because it seems to me that their only talent is to tell us what’s currently happening, like a weatherman who operates by looking out the window and saying, “bit cloudy, might rain.” It also seems to me that reinforcing a constant message that “your job isn’t safe” will undermine consumer confidence further and make the whole thing worse. For all we know (and when I say “we” I’m including economists) the economy might turn around in a month’s time and we’ll wonder what the fuss was about.

Ok, that’s probably not going to happen. All the same, there’s not much use in worrying about it too much, which is what these dicksplashes seem to want, and they don’t expect to be questioned on this because they’re economists and that means they’re experts and know what they’re talking about. The media has given these cunts a free ride for their failures, but there’ll be none of that here. I’m not going to feel bad because they want me to (angry, maybe, but not bad).