December 26, 2011
I flew to Delphi to consult with the oracle, and the old girl had a lot to say about 2012. Pythia, her real name, is getting on in years—she’s around 2,500 years old. Despite her lifestyle—she smokes exotic cheroots, gets high, and then is able to see the future—she still makes sense. Pythia originally earned fame by predicting that Achilles, a supposed immortal, would not make it back from the shores of Troy. When I was ushered into her inner sanctum just below Delphi on the Gulf of Corinth, she was already high. I had paid a hefty sum to see her on such short notice.
My first question was about the euro. Will it survive?
Hers was a typical Delphic answer: “It’s an ill-conceived currency union and despite the latest Brussels ploy to fix their fiscal failures, I wouldn’t put too much stock into the market’s gains following its latest rescue.” The oracle’s speech patterns are modern as hell, but her answer was nevertheless very ambivalent—except when it came to Germany. “This is the 4th Reich, no ifs or buts about it.” What Bismarck and Hitler failed to do, Merkel has accomplished, at least for the moment. Yet the latest summit is not as revolutionary as first suggested. There is no real fiscal union as, say, there is among America’s states, which is what the unelected pseudo-elite technocrats in Brussels really seek.
What about the markets? I asked the high priestess.
“They will stop that clown Sarkozy running around Europe building drama and calling for meetings, then emerging from them and announcing a new agreement to have yet another meeting very soon.”
This obviously is a good thing, I said to her. So how long will this latest charade last?
“At least until the summer,” she said—typical of her, as she did not specify which summer.
After that the priestess took a break. I sat by the ruins in brilliant sunshine and contemplated what she had said to me. The markets will unquestionably have the last word, which means if the latest Band-Aid does not work, we’re in for a long period of economic downturn and perhaps a depression. Who would have guessed when globalization was the chic du jour that a chaotic country such as Greece could drag the whole Western world into a depression and make the Dow take the kind of dive no self-respecting palooka ever contemplated taking? Such are the joys of globalizing, and although we paleocons were always against it, we take no joy in the present mess. One thing is for sure. Outside of the asylums, not one of us is buying European equities. The latest rules impose fiscal discipline to stop a new crisis, but they do little to ease the current one. The imbalance between the strong north and the weak south will remain for at least my lifetime.
After yet another joint, Pythia summoned me back up for more.