Paul Krugman approvingly quotes a commenter on an economics blog, who provides deep insights into the meaning of “the markets,” in the context of understanding the markets’ demands of the Irish government in its time of crisis:
The markets want money for cocaine and prostitutes. I am deadly serious.
Most people don’t realize that “the markets” are in reality 22-27 year old business school graduates, furiously concocting chaotic trading strategies on excel sheets and reporting to bosses perhaps 5 years senior to them. In addition, they generally possess the mentality and probably intelligence of junior cycle secondary school students. Without knowladge of these basic facts, nothing about the markets makes any sense—and with knowladge, everything does.
What the markets, bond and speculators, etc, want right now is for Ireland to give them a feel good feeling, nothing more. A single sharp, sweeping budget would do that; a four year budget plan will not. Remember that most of these guys won’t actually still be trading in four years. They’ll either have retired or will have been promoted to a position where they don’t care about Ireland anymore. Anyone that does will be a major speculator looking to short the country for massive profit.
In lieu of a proper budget, what the country can do—and what will work—is bribe senior ratings agencies owners and officials to give the country a better rating. Even a few millions spent on bumping up Ireland’s rating would save millions and possibly save the country.
Bread and circuses for the masses; cocaine and prostitutes for the markets. This can be looked on a [sic] unethical obviously, but since the entire system is unethical, unprincipled and chaotic anyway, why not just exploit that fact to do some good for the nation instead of bankrupting it in an effort to buy new BMWs for unmarried 25 year olds.
To which Krugman comments:
That’s what I call a policy recommendation — and it’s better than most of what passes for wisdom these days.
November 1st, 2010