Can you help me? You see, I'm totally baffled. We’re in the worst crisis since the Great Depression, possibly the worst financial crisis ever, and to solve it we have recruited the very people who caused it in the first place. Meanwhile, those who identified the emperor’s lack of clothes many years ago get ignored. It seems to apply everywhere - for example Obama’s economics team looks like a rogues gallery of Wall St. banksters.
Last week featured an important event. The Irish Times was going to feature an article from the God-like personage of Peter Sutherland, ex-Chairman of Goldman Sachs, BP and other blue chip majors, and the decks were cleared for what was billed as a ‘hard-hitting and frank’ examination of what went wrong, and what we must do to fix it.
And Peter didn’t let us down. He told us we were in potentially the worst economic crisis the country had ever experienced. That it had been building up for some time and that we must all face reality and be prepared for a major drop in personal and national income. Tough, nay, brutal measures were called for.
All of this was presented with tons of gravitas, and treated with deep respect, almost reverence, by one and all. Including me. He seemed to have the problem, and its causes, nailed. After all, as a recent boss at Goldman's, he, let's say, had first hand experience of the problem.
But then a thought struck me. Sutherland is an unusual name for an Irishman, and I just wondered could he be the same one who addressed the Irish Management Institute last April?
Le me check. Why yes, one and the same. And presumably he presented a similar grim message in that forum?
Well, no actually.
In fact he denounced the ‘doomsayers’ in trenchant terms. Ireland’s economy was ‘not a bubble’ and that we could expect ongoing glory in the form of growth rates higher than anywhere in the EU for the next five years.
What happened in the intervening months? I don't know, but I do know that he’s still treated as a seer, and apparently we should be grateful that he took the trouble to spell out the situation for us.
Why wasn’t he hooted out in a storm of derision? Probably for the same reason that Robert Rubin, Alan Greenspan, and all of the Neocons are still in place, sternly admonishing us and laying out in unequivocal terms what we must now do.
So back to my original question: Can you explain this mystery to me?