Europhrenia – Predicting the future, rewriting the present

May 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

The Irish Independent led this morning with news from the OECD that Ireland’s economy “is close to a turning point and could rebound to 3 per cent growth next year.” According to the “influential” body’s twice-yearly global report, “export-led growth would be almost twice the expected level in the 16-nation euro area,” the Dublin daily beams, “and more than twice the predicted 1.3 per cent growth in Britain.”

To be twice as good as the Brits always make an Irishman’s heart leap. And what with The Indo being a major exponent of the infamous budget “pain” the country endures, such news must be welcome. Over the Irish sea, however, the Lex column in the FT advises taking the OECD report with “a truckload of salt.” While forgiving it for having “missed the initial meltdown”, Lex reminds us that in 2008 the OECD forecast that “the US economy would expand by 1.1 per cent (it contracted 2.4 per cent) and the eurozone and Japan would grow about 1.5 per cent (the former shrank a whopping 4.1 per cent, the latter by even more).”

Looking into the seeds of time, wondering like Macbeth’s future stab-victim Banquo “which grain will grow and which will not” is one of the functions of influential bodies. However, in recent times, you’d be a lot better off talking to Shakespearean witches. Shakespearean witches, although they’re not good on letting you in on when the bloodbath starts, are reliable concerning the seeds of time. They would probably have been a bit cagier than in influential Moody’s which, two years before it opened hunting season on Greece, foresaw all kinds of growth for future zombie Lehman Brothers.

Joe Strummer once said that the future is unwritten. When the present is obscene, these are important words to remember. Right now, 300,000 homes lie empty in Ireland and yet town councils and banks are continuing to evict people who default on their loans and rents. The Irish government, so eager to save its banks, has ruled out saving such irresponsible people. Like the Irish Independent, it is no doubt waving around the OECD’s empty prophecies. When there is no future to offer, then you must rewrite the present, you write reality out.

More Europhrenia at…


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