Monday, September 26, 2011

Tea Time With Greece

So, as some of you may recall from my post "A Series of Unfortunate Events," sometimes it feels like the world is going to end when you watch the news. This happened again on Friday, when world markets plummeted, the dollar rose considerably as the euro cowered into French-military-style submission, and everyone wondered how the birthplace of Western Civilization, Greece, could be such a freaking headache. Unfortunately, I don't think Mr. Portokalos from My Big Fat Greek Wedding has enough Windex for the rash of problems in the Greek financial system.

Why does it feel like we're stuck on a never-ending Ferris Wheel of déjà vu with world financial markets?  Why does it feel like we're stuck on a never-ending Ferris Wheel of déjà vu with world financial markets?  Maybe because the same things keep happening over and over? It's like every time someone says boo, we have to bail out half of the involved parties, let the other half fail,* watch as those bastions of knowledge, Moody's and S&P downgrade the living daylights out of everything, and then hang on tight for a sine-curve style ride through the stock markets.** This cycle then ripples through all the major world markets, causing tons of fun for everyone involved.

What used to happen is that the financial markets and Dominique Strauss-Kahn screwed everyone and got away with it. Now, we just watch the financial markets screw everyone while everyone looks on and is powerless to help. For example, the new IMF chief, Christine Lagarde, says that the IMF doesn't have enough cash to bail everyone out, and the British may (once again) have to save Europe's arse. If this weren't full of poetic irony, it would be a little ridiculous.

Since it's the Brits who are being asked to potentially put up a lot of capital for the IMF so that someone else can sign Greece's checks, I think we should remember a few lines from a play by epicurean British person Oscar Wilde.

In The Importance of Being Earnest, self-indulgent Algie has eaten all of the cucumber sandwiches prepared for tea with his Aunt Augusta. Upon his aunt's arrival, he lies and says that the market was all out of cucumbers—there were none to be had, not even for ready money! Aunt Augusta huffs, and the scene continues. Later, the audience finds out that Algie has substantial debts thanks to his propensity for paying for luxury with credit, not "ready money" (cash). The plot actually does not center around this interesting bout of aristocratic finance, strangely, but continues traipsing along happily.

What we learn here, is that regardless of your standing as an aristocrat, epicurean British person, or propensity to snack on finger food, there is no free lunch. There are also only so many cucumber sandwiches in the world. Once they have been eaten, and once all your credit has been used up, you must simply forego cucumber sandwiches. The IMF cannot be your sugar daddy forever—and, as we saw around 1789, sometimes the French get tired of paying for other people's luxuries (just ask Marie Antoinette). The question at hand is really "who is going to keep bankrolling the eurozone?" The fact that no one jumped up to answer that question is just one of many reasons the stock market started yo-yo-ing like a rap artist at a family reunion.

At some point, our credit (and the cucumbers) are going to run out. So far, repeated bailouts to "stem financial panic and doom" have actually only contributed to the cycle of financial panic and doom. It may be time to try tea without cucumber sandwiches. If that happens, I don't think the eurozone will survive. If the euro is saved at the expense of, well, everyone else coming to tea, I still don't think the eurozone will survive ... the deja-vu will just keep happening. Any way you look at it, those Greek cucumber sandwiches may not have been worth all the trouble they caused.

I watched the world financial markets go berserk (again and again) in:***
Black below-the-knee pencil skirt, gray sleeveless blouse, purple silk flower, pearl studs, pearl necklace, cameo ring, and black-and-gray wingtip-inspired stilettos.

Black shirt-dress, black pearl earrings, silver flower ring, zebra pumps.

* It's like a little girl plucking daisy petals going "Lehman Brothers, he loves me not, Freddie Mac, he loves me!"

**For those of you playing along at home, yes, I did just throw in some pre-calculus. Look at us and our high school knowledge go!

*** Déjà vuis double the biz-cazh fun!  Déjà vu is double the biz-cazh fun! Two outfits for one adventure!