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September 22, 2011

Yeah, It's Probably Time To Panic

Or, at least, it was time to panic.

After noting that the world economy is in truly dire straits, Meade notes that few seem able to understand this.

Trying to follow the US discussion from Tel Aviv, I’m impressed (as is so often the case) with its political and insular focus. Will the worldwide economic crisis help or hurt President Obama’s chances for re-election in 2012? Which political party is gaming the crisis best, and so will gain more or at least lose less voter support in the polls?

These questions have to be asked I suppose, but given what is going on in the world right now they are trivial. It is almost as if on December 8, 1941, the press was filled with speculation about whether Franklin Roosevelt’s chances for a fourth term were helped or hurt by the attack — and whether GOP hopes to pick up more seats in the 1942 election would have to be put on hold.

The political speculation is worse than useless at this point. Global economic events are moving so rapidly that we have no way of foreseeing the economic environment for next year. It will probably not be very good, but how bad it will be and how it will look to voters cannot yet be foretold.

More to the point, we need policy discussions more than we need political ones. This is not just about how big the deficit should be; it is about whether the international financial system will survive the next six months in the form we now know it. It is about whether the foundations of the postwar order are cracking in Europe. It is about whether a global financial crash will further destabilize the Middle East and, if so, what we and the Europeans are going to do about it. It is about whether the incipient signs of a bubble burst in China signal the start of an extended economic and perhaps even political crisis there. It is about whether the American middle class is about to be knocked off its feet once again and indeed whether the middle class as we’ve known it will survive. It is about whether sovereign governments can still underwrite economic performance and financial stability in the leading economies of the world.

This is an example of the foolish politicking Mead finds so parochial, but I do remember in 2007 that the media was quite insistent that the housing bubble burst was Very Big News which would portend Very Bad Things. That's not to say they were biased in that reportage. They got that right. And even as the bubble burst, I doubted them on their claims of serious economic fallout.

They were right; I was wrong.

But I would suggest that George W. Bush was the sort of president they didn't mind reporting bad news about. While they are very protective of, and optimistic about, the current resident of the White House.

It could be that we're not getting the true situation from the media because the media has very emotional, very irrational reason to not want to believe it themselves.

And thus what is actually a worldwide catastrophe in progress is demeaned as a mere political hurdle for Obama to overcome, maybe with a really good speech, maybe with a drop-in-the-bucket "stimulus."

And regarding politics: I do not know for certain what the next president would do, usefully, to improve the situation.

I do know that one man is singularly unqualified to occupy the most important office in the world during that 3 a.m. emergency call.


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posted by Ace at 03:58 PM

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