It's that time of the year, when children -- those who still believe in him! -- tend to send off letters to the North Pole, to a certain Mr. Claus to inform him about their wishes for Christmas in the (often) vain hope that they might be fulfilled and that, come Christmas night, this "special something" arrives down the chimney.
OK, OK, you and I have stopped believing in Santa and his seasonal "ho-ho-ho" a long, long time ago (you had your first suspicion when you caught Dad munching Santa's special biscuits, right?) And since then, no more wish lists sent to the North pole, eh?
But hey, here´s my take on this: Even though I stopped believing in Santa or the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny as long ago as you did (maybe longer!) .... THIS year I am sending my wish list to Santa Claus!
Let's face it, we tried everything else to get through this wretched banking crisis turned financial crisis, turned recession. Why not apply for Santa´s intervention? Has about as much chance of solving our problems as the shiny, wrapped parcels of bailout, rescue and stimulus packages that are beginning to clutter up the foot of our Christmas trees.
I am being too cynical again, you say?
Maybe. I am certainly suffering from bailout fatigue and stimulus package flu. I mean, gimme a break!
- Interest rates heading for zero and still the banks sit on their money like hens on their eggs (without hatching anything)
- One bailout package for ailing banks chasing the other (and still bad headlines about bad debt and bad business keep on coming)
- Oh, and now it´s no longer bailouts, but "economic stimulus" that is the wonder weapon (tax cuts, tax incentives, free consumer checks for the public and, and, and …)
And? Is it getting better? Is there a light at the end of this veeeeeeeery long, dark tunnel? Nope.
Why? First of all, there can´t really be. Rate cuts take anything from six months to two years, before they REALLY hit the so-called REAL economy. Bailouts help the companies in question (SOMETIMES!), but in any case, they are only a short-term fix, more like first aid on an accident victim. And economic stimulus packages? Well, they take even longer and their impact is even more diffused. You can cut taxes as much as you like, the recipients won´t go out spending, unless they are optimistic about the future. And how could they be?
With everybody from bank economist to banker, from automaker to central banker to politician telling us just HOW TERRIBLE the next year is going to be?
So in MY wish list to Santa Claus I would put this right on top, in big fat red letters:
Please give us political leaders who actually LEAD and who can inspire optimism!
and for good measure, I would add this to my list:
- give us bankers that remember what BANKING was all about
- corporate leaders who concentrate less on polishing the next shareholders letter and more on their product
- leaders who see the jobs they create as "capital", not as disposable waste to be used as the easiest way to cut costs when the going gets tough
- shareholders that concentrate more on long-term investment than the next quarterly payout
- and, yes, journalists (myself included) who might be less bamboozled by the headline and more interested in the stories behind the stories ... sigh
But, hey, let´s be honest here: If I truly believe any, let alone ALL of this was going to happen, I might as well start believing in Santa Claus again ...
Oh, to be a child again and expect just about ANYTHING might happen in the night of Christmas ....
Merry Christmas to you all, nontheless.
Ho-ho-ho for now.
And, hey, never stop believing in miracles!
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