Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sorman on the Greek Tragedy

Wise words by Guy Sorman in this City Journal article regarding the global financial crisis and the lessons from the Greek budget scandal:

The financial crisis of 2008, still far from over, has done severe damage to the reputation of the free market. The crisis, we are assured, was caused by the withdrawal of the state and an excess of deregulation. To get out of it will thus require a massive return to public spending and intervention, which is in fact what we see happening all over Europe and in the United States. However, what we might call the Greek affair should make us question the statist solution. We ought to consider the possibility that public management could prove even more dangerous than private—that state regulation is no less chancy than deregulation.

The duplicity and corruption of Greek public accounting was more than an error of bookkeeping. The concealment of the country’s real budget deficit necessarily involved a gigantic network of complicity that included the whole political class, the state bureaucracy, and the banks. This network was not confined to Greece: it included Greece’s European partners, Europe’s political leaders, the governors of the Eurozone, the directors of the European Central Bank, and the European commission. It’s hard to believe that the European Commission’s Directorate General for economic and Financial Affairs was ignorant of what was really happening in Greece; and it will come as a surprise to some but not others that Eurostat, the statistical institute of the European Commission, has for years been publishing deliberately false numbers that make the phony accounting of the ratings agencies implicated in the 2008 financial crisis pale in comparison.

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