Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Fixers

Via Henry Farrell:

I’m at a workshop, unable to blog properly, and saving my eurozone energies for revisions to a piece for The Nation (the ending of which has changed dramatically twice, and which is likely to change dramatically again before its Friday deadline). But this piece in the FT is not very far from what I would be writing if I had the time.
Apparently, the answer to the huge problems of the eurozone is the replacement of elected premiers with economic experts – approved officials dropped from European institutions. In Greece, Lucas Papademos, a former vice-president of the European Central Bank, has been pushed hard for the job; in Italy, Mario Monti, another economist and a former EU Commissioner, is much mentioned. They may lack a democratic mandate but they’re fantastically well regarded in Frankfurt. It remains to be seen if either will clinch the role. But what exactly is the great attraction of technocrats?
If ever modern Europe needed brave, charismatic leaders to carry their nation through turbulent times, it would seem to be now. Instead, it is as if the crew of the Starship Enterprise had concluded that Captain Jean-Luc Picard is no longer the man for the job and that it is time to send for the Borg. Efficient, calculating machines driving through unpopular measures across the eurozone with the battle cry “resistance is futile” are apparently the order of the day. Faced with a deep crisis, once-proud European nations are essentially preparing to hand over power to Ernst & Young.


FrédéricLN said...

A very true point, and a very serious worry for me.

That the central bankers are the usual correspondents of lenders — that's sure.

That sometimes they cried and shouted when the governments 'faisaient n'importe quoi' — ok.

That the solutions they foster are the one that can pull us out of the crisis — very clearly not. Their eurospeak about "reforms", "efforts", and so on, if often deeply deconnected from social life and main street economics. Exactly as IMF indications to South East Asia countries, were.

We would need people coming from "l'économie réelle" instead. Not from the finance tribe.

Anonymous said...

one of my favorite lines in John Kenneth Galbraith's History of Economics (I believe it was from this) was that Communist countries were run by economists too, of the Marxist variety no doubt, but economists nonetheless. I thought of this when I heard on France Info that Monti & Papademos, economist technocrat have been flown in to run their respective countries, or rather to assuage the bond markets

Chantal Delsol made the pertinent remark in the Le Figaro today concerning the mépris for democratic legitimacy. It's true when Papandréou said there was to be a referendum, there was much anger and "mépris" for this idea and the idea that the Greek people actually had a say.
The "mépris" of popular will is not the causa causans of today's woes. But the continuous neglect of it, in favor of an pan-European project sustained mostly by a technocratic elite pr (I can't believe I'm sounding like a Dupont-Aignan-like populist), does not bode well for the future. We'll just end of getting into the same trouble as before; and eventually go the same way as other failed projects which were run into the ground by economists.


FrédéricLN said...

Also see Pascal Canfin's reply on