Sunday, December 26, 2010

Armbars, Douche and Irish Debt

Recently, I was on my way to a friend's house to watch some Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fights when a neighbor I had not met before joined me on the elevator.  He looked to be in his mid to late 30s and he was wearing an audaciously douchey Xtreme Couture tee shirt.  Xtreme Couture is an MMA themed apparel company owned by one of the legends of the sport, Randy Couture.  MMA fans understand the douchey tee shirt all too well, and we've even become accustomed to differentiating between the various brands and their takes on how to look like a douche with skulls and other such imagery on your chest.  So, naturally, I asked him who he thought would win the fights that night.

"Fights?" he said.  "I have no idea.  I just thought the shirt was cool so I bought it.  I'm a banker; I can tell you how to solve the Irish debt crisis, but not who will win the fights tonight."

Immediately my mind started racing.  First, I thought, what kind of guy sees that tee shirt on a rack and thinks it looks cool without the MMA context?  A douche of epic proportions, I answered myself.  Then, onto the Irish debt question.  Are bankers what Ireland (and some of the other PIGS countries) really needs?

As Dean Baker has pointed out, the austerity package the ECB and the IMF have created for Ireland are likely to have disastrous results.  One particular portion of the package that I find laughable is that the corporate tax rate will remain the same, but the minimum wage will decrease by about 11%.  There's some justice for you: the banksters who blew up the economy make no sacrifice, but the hourly worker gets screwed.  I'd also like to point to a paper by Reinhart and Rogoff (unfortunately not available for free) in which they take a long term view of defaults and find that, contrary to popular current opinion, nations have used default or restructuring of debt time after time without the world economy imploding.  What Ireland needs is not more debt, but less; loaning them more Euros just exacerbates the problem.  But surprise, surprise, the banksters just want more more more and they will gladly push Ireland, or any other nation, to the brink to get there.

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