“How much could taxes be raised without triggering mass protest? How tightly could imports be squeezed without precipitating a collapse in production? How far could wages be reduced without provoking labour unrest?” Greece 2012? No, Germany 1923. Take note Gauleiter Merkel, it could happen to you again. It has happened time after time. There simply is nothing new and history repeats itself. After World War One every country involved was in debt up to their collective eyebrows. After the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the following Great Depression it took a long time, some pretty hefty loans and, hard work for currencies to be stabilised. And who pulled the strings? Why, no one else but the bankers of course, four men in particular! I learn all this from a fascinating, and rather frightening book, titled “Lords of Finance” by Liaquat Ahamed.
The blurb on the back cover of the book reads. “In Lords of Finance we meet these men – the four bankers who truly broke the world. Their names were lost to history, their lives and actions forgotten, until now. Ahamned tells their story in vivid and gripping detail, in a timely and arresting reminder that individuals – their ambitions, limitations, and human nature – lie at the very heart of global tragedy.
And what have modern bankers been up to? Apart from paying themselves enormous bonuses of course and being pulled out of the mire of their own making by government money?
Money is the root of all evil. It is a pity the fat cats of this world who in their insatiable greed want more and more, legally or illegally, and who cling on to their treasures no matter what can’t see the harm they do. This book is a must read, but don’t take it to bed with you. It could give you nightmares.
American friends have asked solicitously whether the situation in Greece has affected us and, fortunately, the answer is it hasn’t impinged on us yet to the extent it has affected the Greeks. The price of goods has rocketed of course. Greece is no longer that inexpensive country we first knew. The price of petrol at nearly 2euro a litre is partly to blame as is VAT at 23% and god alone knows what price heating oil is going to be this winter. One is going to have to be extremely abstemious and hope the winter won’t be as bad as the last. We don’t eat out nearly as much as we used to and that applies to a lot of people so restaurants suffer because of it. Though prices in restaurants seem to be pretty stable it’s obviously more economical to eat at home and eating out has become a treat. We’re fortunate in that our income is in sterling but, even so, we do still have to be careful. We see shops and business folding every day and the politicians like the ostrich with their heads in the sand. Okay, okay, I know ostriches don’t actually do that but it is a good description of those who live in an ivory tower and refuse to face reality.
PS: In the September issue of Opera magazine there is an advertisement for a competition – a new opera preferably with a GLBT subject -$20000 prize money and guaranteed performance so I wrote a libretto based on the life of the Baron Jacques D’Adelswärd Fersen, a rare and exotic bloom indeed. There is plenty of information about him on the internet and there has been at least one novel written – “Exile of Capri” by Roger Peyrefitte. The only problem is I can’t find a composer and, if I should find one, could he undertake to write a full length opera in six months? Submission date 29th March. I must admit an advertisement in September hasn’t given much time although it is not quite as bad as some Greek ads I’ve seen for events that give no time at all to attend. Anyway, if anyone knows a composer willing to undertake such a massive task please let me know but time is running out fast.