Perhaps it is a sign of incipient madness, but I’ve spent most of today laughing at the global situation. Not, I hasten to add, out of misguided sadism, but because things have reached the stage – a bit like Gordon of Our Doom towards the bitter end – when the protestations of rescue and ultimate glorious victory are like eavesdropping on a Hitler/Goebbels conversation in the ReichsKanzelerei Bunker during 1945. You know the sort of thing: “Ach yes mein Fuhrer, but ze 313th Disneyland Division ist even now about to break zroo ze Bolshevik lines und take us to Bolivia!”
Such a situation is, of course, close to being a bollocks deconstructor’s wet dream.Yesterday, for example, the IMF put out a release saying ‘Bank debts threaten recovery’. A couple of hours ago, they put out today’s weather forecast, ‘Sovereign insolvencies threaten recovery’. Yes, but apart from there being no recovery, just what aside from banks and governments might threaten it, IMF? Falling gdp throughout the West? Yes, well…there is that, I suppose. Currency wars as a precursor to all-out mercantile trade wars? That too, yes, I’ll grant you that. Every Western government printing money to help their exports? Yes, yes, yes…but…..
My first laugh-out-loud moment came this morning shortly after 11.30, when the FT had this sequence of headlines:
Rehn warns of strong euro harming EU exports
Traders still streaming out of the Dollar
Bank of England MPC split three ways
Ireland warned of possible further downgrade
Boost to services sector eases fears of Double-dip recession.
You gotta accentuate the positive and all that. Which is just what they were doing over at Citywire, where there was a featured piece on why the UK housing market will recover in 2012. I could rival the Encyclopaedia Britannica on the reasons why that gets this years highest piffle rating yet, but it wouldn’t have any effect, because right now ‘receding fears’ are what everyone wants to read about: ‘BOJ intervention buoys Nikkei on receding deflation fear’ was today’s goodie. Thus fears of double-dip deflation are going away: all we have left to tackle now is rampant hyperinflation.
None of this (as you’d expect) has deterred Stock Exchange traders, who kept the whole shares thing rip-roaring ahead as both the FTSE and S&P charts rose more than 1.5%. Most of that is based on the ‘record profits’ recorded by big business yesterday in the US, a good deal of which came from sitting on cash mountains rather than closing new sales. Some of the rise is being directionalized by smart (aka bent) money talking up trades before pulling the plug on wide-eyed optimists by the weekend. But a disturbing amount of it is based on an unhinged faith in imminent recovery. It makes one wonder what goes through the mind of a Goforit as that last shiny coin plops into the one-armed bandit, only to come up apple-grape-tomato.
So awful is the real outlook, the data detectives are reduced to reporting things that went wrong some time back. Thus we read everywhere today that Greece just failed its 2009 stress test by having an even bigger deficit than we thought. Personally, I think this is a great wheeze to distract (rather than salute) those who are about to die. Some potential stories I thought of might include:
Yes, but – are there any signs of normality? Well oddly enough, there are. UK banker bonuses topped seven billion Pounds last year. And Tesco got bigger. So God is in her Heaven, and all all is well on Earth.