Cyprus, the pundits and Geldof

Yesterday the media across Europe were full of the news that Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Dutch finance minister and head of the Eurozone group, had let the cat out of the bag. Cyprus, he had said, showed the way forward in dealing with bailouts, by going after private investors and bank accounts. He had to water down his remarks later, but too late. He’d shown what’s really going on.
Cyprus is a tryout by the central banks and major international financial institutions and gives the true measure of the continuing crisis. So deeply indebted are these institutions that they are preparing to extract the price out of the retail banking sector – in other words, out of people’s life savings. And although the Cypriot people rose up in anger against the move, the Troika of the Euro group, the IMF and the European central bank hasn’t given up, simply coming back with an amended plan.
Just as markets were plunging in reaction to Dijsselbloem’s comments, the Sydney Morning Herald business pages yesterday ran a “Motley Fool” column by one Morgan Housel under the headline “The end of the financial crisis”. Apparently not quite up to speed, Housel reported that markets had shrugged off the problems in the island state and concluded: “I think our response to Cyprus is evidence that we are moving on from the torment of the last crisis.”
Motley Fool brands itself as being there “to educate, amuse and enrich investors”. Fooling Australia, as its website puts it.
I used to think that Bob Geldof was a wishy-washy liberal, an outmoded Irish rock star with a Bandaid solution to the world’s problems and a vague radicalism quite compatible with accepting a knighthood from Her Maj.
He may have been all of that, but there’s rather more to him now, as his interview with the ABC’s Emma Alberici on last night’s Lateline demonstrated.
Here as an ambassador for the charity One Young World, he lambasted the Australian government’s cuts to overseas development aid as shortsighted, cutting us off from huge opportunities.
It’s the world view informing his position that’s so interesting. Austerity, said Geldof, may be a word to most Australians, but to millions of people it’s “carnage”, the destruction of their lives. And that’s not just a problem of the developing world; it includes people in the US, Britain, his native Ireland and Europe.
Nation states are incapable of solving the crisis because they are outmoded in a globalised world that is being transformed at unprecedented speed by the digital revolution. We don’t yet know, he said, the potential of “this thing in our pockets’. Nation states only know competition, he said, where collaboration is what is required in this century. “The old model, the political paradigm of the 20th century competition, can’t pertain in an era of digital media which implies globalisation.”
Darwin, Freud and Marx were the thinkers who shaped the 20th century, and he believes that new thinkers will emerge who will be doing the same for our own times.
Geldof remains the former Boomtown Rat who became a friend of Prince Charles, and he’s still not above doing a bit of spruiking for Britain. But I was wrong to pigeonhole him. He’s also proof that anger at the world’s injustices, combined with an intelligent analysis of 21st century developments, can lead to some far-reaching, revolutionary conclusions.
You can look up the interview on the ABC website.

One comment

  1. The same old refrain. Belts must be tightened – only yours never mine. It “worked” in the U.S. of A. for the banking battlers (those still afloat of course), for QANTAS boss Joyce, the Three Amigos, who left dragging their tails (they couldn’t lift them because of the weight of their wallets), and the present Queensland government, which made promises (non-core, of course; pace Honest John). Would honest crooks, as in NSW enquiry, be better?

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