Photo by Gerry Thomasen (GerryT; Flickr CC)
This Greek debt thing is all getting a bit out of hand now, isn’t it? What image can possible encapsulate and explain it? To me, it’s a bit like a classroom where the teacher has left for a minute to come back and find there’s a dead cat on the floor and no-one knows how it got there. The dead cat is Greece, I suppose, and the children, there are 17 of them, are the countries that use the euro, and the teacher would be, oh, I don't know, I hadn't decided when I started writing this sentence, the European Commission.
Metaphors are always tricky, but when something is as vast and nebulous as a crisis that could bring the world to its knees with money that only ever exists in the future, they're all we have.
It's become so difficult to grasp this ridiculous business that news reporters have taken to giving everything involved in it a bizarre name, in an attempt to make it sound real. Debts now have “haircuts,” while a group of three major financial authorities is a “Troika,” a Russian word that means "group of three." Neither of these are very helpful.
Well, I have one. From now on, I think the stock markets should be called “Ian.” Ian is a ten-year-old with attention deficit disorder and severe anger management issues. His parents are rich and happily married, but they can't control Ian because they are too meek. So they spend all their money and nervous energy on trying to calm him down. But Ian is having none of it, and has decided to torment his parents by indulging his own bipolar behaviour.
Unlike Troika and haircuts, my image really does help explain the euro crisis, as can be seen from these random headlines from last week:
- "Russia deputy PM seeks to calm Ian after Finance Minister quits"
- "Ian faces 'severe strains' warns Bank of England"
- "Barclays's Davies Says `Emotion' Gripping Ian"
- "Dithering European policymakers fail to calm volatile Ian"
- "Only ECB has power to 'scare' global Ian, warns IMF"
See? It's all fucking crystal now isn't it?