Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Mother of All Bailouts

I was just in Rome for a talk at Ente Einaudi (and some plain old tourism, enjoying Richard Meier's Ara Pacis Museum) when German TV asked me to comment on the mother of all bailouts and latest perturbations of the current sovereign debt crises. For German speakers, the link is here. I am trying to say nice things about speculators, and at the same time think we have to get serious about bank reform. They didn't ask me about the rescue package, which in scope and motivation seems singularly misguided. They do want to know about what to do, and I emphasize the need for financial sector regulation. How often do we want to live with this type of blackmail, where the financial sector asks for a bailout because otherwise, the rest of the economy might suffer.

Times of distress also create a demand for cranky ideas. The Germans from 3SAT found a "visionary" in Vienna that wants to replace the Euro with the Globo -- a single global currency. I think it's a spectacularly stupid idea, and if there is something stunning about it, it's that this kind of idea is given an airing at all. But hey, people discussed Federgeld at some point, money that would lose its value if not used in transactions -- a way to tax "dead capital". The party that pushed it? Just a bunch of freaks, on the very fringe, with no chance to enter office... until they did, in Berlin in January 1933.

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