Panic Prevails Just When We Need Calm
Trichet should be fired. Bernanke should be fired. Lethargic politicians should be fired.
That's the collective wail of consternation we keep hearing from financial markets around the globe these days.
Ah, yes. How droll Isn't that a bit like a bunch of arsonists were complaining about the fire brigade being too lax and incompetent in fighting the fires they themselves have ignited?
But, more seriously. What CAN politicians, central banks really do?
Let's start with the central banks.
We tried both tactics, didn't we?
The Fed's emergency rate cuts, prompted and wanted by hysterical bankers AND the ECB's, with the stubborn "no cuts, if inflation doesn't come down" approach. Guess what. One worked as little as the other.
And then the markets were screaming for a concerted rate efforts. They got it (granted, FAR TOO LATE!). But did it work? Nope.
So what now?
What about politics and politicians?
The $700 billion U.S. bailout package was what was needed. NOTHING else would save the markets. Ok, there it is now. Saved the markets? Nope.
Bailout packages for Europe were needed. OK, the Europeans could sadly not come up with a COMMON PLAN, but hell's bells, why does anybody seriously expect a COMMON EU-WIDE bailout plan, when we have such different countries with different situations of their respective economies and banking industries to deal with?
C'mon! Get Real!
In any case, we did get an excellent plan for the U.K., probably the best in the bad world we are struggling in right now! -And at least promises of bailouts from Germany, France and Italy. Details to follow ....
And? AND? Naaaaaaaaaaaaathing. The fires of panic and doom are still burning bright.
Jean-Claude Trichet sums up the exasperation and helplessness of the global "fire brigades" quite well, when keeps calling on bankers to "stay calm" and show "some composure" and "not overreact."
Cool heads are needed now, on all sides, not panic mongers!
But WHERE TO FIND THOSE?
German television ARD was filming a news feature about the experience of financial reporters in these markets and your's truly (ahem) was also interviewed in the course of it. I told them, "It's like war reporting, only the bullets are different ones." And I mean it! And I could add: "It's like war reporting - ONLY SCARIER!!!! And, yes, I mean THAT, too. I have done both in my life. Reported from war zones with battle tanks and live bullets and reported from the "financial front" in more than one "war."
And, sorry, maybe it's because MY memory of battle tanks and grenades is fading, but I find what we are experiencing now more frightening.
Why? Because it is so much more difficult to stop. It's like that old Hollywood flick "War Games," when the computer is playing global thermonuclear war and nobody knows how to stop it.
Where is that soppy Hollywood happy ending, when you need it, eh?
Or, indeed, where is that "composure" and "cool head" our central bankers are calling for?
In times like these, in financial war zone, we need those cool heads more desperately than ever.
There IS enough money.
There IS enough strength in the so-called "real economy".
What there is NOT, is bankers with enough "composure" to trust each other.
I am sadly reminded of one of the signature songs of the women's lib, post-bra-burning and down-with-male-domination days:
"Ich sprüh´s auf jede Häuserwand, neue Männer braucht das Land!"
(I spray it on each house and wall, brandnew man is what we need all!)
Replace "Männer" with "Banker" and it might make depressingly candid new cover version:
Ich sprüh´s auf jede Häuserwand, neue Banker braucht das Land!
.... Alas, where to get them, eh?
Have a great weekend, nonetheless.
Ciao for now. Silvia
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