Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Depressing thoughts, Depression generally, and the end of Christmas...

I am sitting here, replete after a lovely dinner of my wife's version of silverside beef, mashed spud, peas and a brown sauce (that was my contribution) and listening to the last of my Christmas presents... On the CD at the moment is Portishead and their "Third". Challenging listening, kinda partway between rock, folk, and Stockhausen or Blumenthaler.

Dredging my way through all of the weekends dross and general garbage, I came across Mike Moore writing in the Herald on a subject in which he would be uniquely qualified not just in NZ but internationally. Moore gained much (very justified) kudis for his short term at the helm of the WTO a few years back. Looking at the photo accompanying the article the rest has done him a world of good.
Remember the drama of the G20, the Top 20 industrialised nations, and their summit in Washington, DC, to address the need for concerted global action to address the economic crisis?

Presidents and prime ministers triumphantly agreed not to introduce any new protectionist measures, and to conclude the Doha Development Round.

Mindful of how the Great Depression of the 1930s was prolonged and made deeper by unilateral trade restriction, and that trade fell by 70 per cent in a few years, leaders left this important meeting basking in the glory of dynamic corrective action.

Once home, the opposite of what was said happened. China re-introduced tax breaks for exporters. India imposed caps on imports of steel. Duties on car imports into Russia have been raised. Billion-dollar bailouts to car manufacturers in the US were announced and France promised to protect companies from foreign predators with more than $12 billion. From Indonesia to Ecuador and Argentina, countries have introduced protectionist policies.

Lets just list those out -

China - tax breaks (government subsidies) on exports.
India - steel import quotas.
Russia - increased duties on imported cars.
USA - "the bailout"
France - (not listed by Moore) renewed and increased government subsidies on dairy production and export.
France - anti-competition (government) subsidies for French companies.

... and so the list goes on, almost interminably. No one can say that Moore has been complete in his list.
The World Bank suggests trade growth will be the lowest since World War II. Korean exports are down by 30 per cent (January, compared with a year ago); Taiwan 42 per cent and Japan 27 per cent.

Cargo leaving Long Beach, Los Angeles, fell by 18 per cent in a year. China's exports are falling dangerously - their growth may be cut by a third, creating severe social distress.

Friends report the air in Hong Kong and Beijing is cleaner than at the time of the Olympics, such is the industrial contraction.

Lloyds report that there are miles of ships anchored off Singapore and elsewhere, and that shipping companies have offered to waive fees on containers in some places, just charging broker costs to move half-full ships and maintain some cash flow.

Just too depressing.

But it doesn't end there.

Along with Portishead, I have also acquired the first two cd's out from Little Bushman. Long time readers will recall me singing the praises of Fat Freddy's Drop. Also recalled will be my thought that the music scene in NZ, and Wellington in particular, is almost incestuous in the way it works. Little Bushman was started by Warren "Mad Dog" Maxwell as a kind of offshoot from Fat Freddy.

Been looking for the lyrics for "Nature of Man" out on the 'net - no go. I'm not going to break the copyright. Google them, you can pick up any number of sampler tracks from MOG and elsewhere. The first stanza will give the idea -

Sunni against Shiite, Black on Black
Man against woman
What you think about that
Protest on a Catholic
Persecute the Jew
Can't help the neighbour
Neighbour might sue me.

Blame it on the Bible. Blame it on the war.
Blame it on the Govenor. That you voted for.
Dictator dining on the eagles purse
A Red moon is rising up above the Earth.

Take a look around. It is powerful stuff.

It is also quite depressing.

And that is before one gets anywhere near the latest Israeli military excusion (well, what else could it be if not a Cook's tour?). All of the lies and the bullshit that goes with it. (No, TF, I am not saying just the Israelis, the Israelis, Hamas, the US, all of them...
Put it on the ground
Spread it all around
Dig it with a hoe
It will make your garden grow.

All just too depressing. But it is also in the nature of man.

Good night! Tomorrow is Obama Day! Good luck America. Good luck world!


T. F. Stern said...

I wear my brown shoes when I read the blogs, no harm done.

The probligo said...

One day, I promise, I will tell Milligan's "Origin of the Boots" story.

Eugene Tan said...

Is your spell of depression over? I'm on the verge of sending over diazepam and valium, assuming I can lay my hands on them. Maybe viagra? That I can get Shade to help.