Monday, June 22, 2015

Does Europe Remember Greenspan?

I see that both the French and German stock exchanges are doing very well this morning. As I write this, both are up more than 3.75%. This is obviously connected to the fact that the lead story on BBC World Service News was that a viable solution to the problem of Greek debt may actually be in sight. Mind you, the problem has not yet be solved; but stock markets live in the fictions of the future, rather than in the immediate present. This makes them prime targets for what Alan Greenspan once called "irrational exuberance." Those of us more interested in common sense, rather than good manners, might prefer to call it "grabbing at straws."

Recently Columbia University Press published a book entitled What Does Europe Want? The Union and Its Discontents. It is basically a "dialog through essays" between Slavoj Žižek can Srećko Horvat. However, of particularly interest if the Foreword written by Alexis Tsipras, listed only as "Greek politician, president of SYRIZA," since, at the time he wrote it, the idea of an election in Greece was not yet in sight, let alone a rise in public support for Tsipras' political party.

These are all voices that realize that "economic recovery" is a concept that may well serve the ultra-rich but is condemning just about everyone else to poverty even greater than what was suffered before the collapse of the last decade. One might go so far as to say that even talk about the wealth gap has been devalued. Nevertheless, there was one rather unconventional sign of hope in a less-publicized story that the BBC ran over the weekend. They managed to find a specialist in population dynamics that was bold enough to suggest that the extinction of the human species is not only possible but likely to occur sooner than anyone had dared consider. Considered as a system, the earth may take care of itself better than any mere humans can; and, if humans try to interfere with the earth, then they may well be outwitted by some simple mathematical principles!

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