Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Metaphor for Europe's Troubles

Based on my decades of experience in the sovereign debt markets, I have come up with a perfect metaphor for what is going on in the Eurozone. It is as if the Grace government promised 200,000 people one boat each, but now that the boats are due, it turns out that she doesn't have 200,000 boats anywhere, there are only 100,000. Grace tries telling half of the people not to try to use their boat; to pretend that it is sitting in a port somewhere, waiting for them. If some people use their boat half of the week, other people can use it for the other half of the week, so it is "like" having 200,000 boats. Uncle Jeremy has 1.5 million boats, but he isn't so thrilled about just handing over a bunch of his boats to Grace, who knew she promised more than she had. Jeremy says "I'll give you 50,000 of my boats, but only if you tell 50,000 people that they aren't getting a boat at all." Grace is furious, shouting "you're forcing boat austerity on me! I need to implement boat-growth policies!" Of course, "boat-growth policies" is a euphemism for "Jeremy gives me more boats."

Grace then proposes a consolidated "Euroboat" concept, in which all of Grace's, Jeremy's, Ira's, Talia's, and Pete's boats are lumped together and then given out to each of their citizens, regardless of how many boats each person (government) has. It just so happens that Jeremy has 1.5 million boats and has promised 750k of his citizens one boat each, but all of the other governments have promised more boats than they have, and have even promised more than the 750k spare boats that Jeremy has. Jeremy, understandably, doesn't want to give out all of the spare boats he has to people who promised more than they had, but when he tells the other people this, they get angry and call him mean names. Jeremy tries to explain that even if he was to give out all of the extra boats he has, and cut back on a bunch of the boats he already promised to his citizens, there would still not be enough boats for all the people who promised more boats than they knew they had.

Some people want their acquaintance Mario to print them a bunch of boats.

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