Papandreou, then Berlusconi reluctantly agree to go. Are we seeing a financial version of the Arab Spring?

November 9, 2011

The global financial crisis is claiming its victims as political leaders reluctantly agree to go. Revolution is in the air. Attempts to cling to power appear to be unable to resist the forces of change

It has been a week in which the G20 financial summit fell short of finding a road-map out of the global financial crisis. Yet the meeting triggered off radical changes to the regimes in the most vulnerable Nation States.

First it was Greece

Over the weekend [Nov 6th-7th 2011] it was Greece and Prime Minister George Papandreou.

Then Italy

Then, within days, Italy becomes part of the widening crisis. (Or maybe the wider crisis existed, and attention turns in Domino fashion to the next weakest market?). The once all-powerful Sylvio Berlusconi, survivor of fifty votes of no-confidence, faces one challenge too many.

The rise of the technocratic leader

One interesting theme is that the revolutions are not being led by those seeking to replace the defeated leaders. Rather, there is talk that the new leaders must by ‘technocrats’.

I am reading this to mean that old-style political figures have been ill-equipped to grasp the subtleties of the 21 Century global financial situation. The power-brokers are looking for a new kind of leader beyond the dynastic and partisan.

A rather obvious concern is that the departure of old-style dynastic figures appear to favour advocates of the prevailing financial system. in Greece and in Italy, commentators insist on the need for a technocrat with financial leadership experience to cope with the new circumstances. Elections are in the air.

The Arab Spring

It is tempting to draw an analogy with the so-called Arab Spring (Was it all kicking-off only a few short months ago?)

I do not chose to draw too close a parallel, but the mood for ‘regime change’ seems comparable, the changes themselves inevitable if unpredictable in their consequences. Maybe Angela Merkel is playing the role of NATO, imposing financial no-fly roles to support desired changes?


G20 Notes. Boris Johnson sets the scene

March 30, 2009
Boris Johnson [wikipedia]

Boris Johnson

The G20 summit threw London into turmoil. Boris Johnson was on top form with advice for the anticipated protestors to the event

Journalism would be the poorer if the mayor were to stick to his day job. Here’s Boris in the Telegraph setting the scene for the G20 summit

It is now 10 years since the anti-capitalists attacked the City of London, and next week they intend to outdo themselves. In student bedsits and in terrace Kensington houses, the alienated children of the middle classes are planning to subvert the G20 summit. Across the desolate wastes of the Leftie internet, their wrathful campfires are already burning, and when April dawns they will surge like the orcs of Mordor in the general direction of foes the Bank of England.

Boris describes the scene in scintillating fashion:

They will taunt the police. They will paralyse traffic. They will do their utmost to spoil your day; and when they have been sufficiently whipped up that they will begin the chant of hate. Somewhere in the crowd, a nose-ringed twerp will drain a mouthful of cider and call to his comrades. “What do we want?” he will demand.
And at that moment, a great silence will fall in the carnival of cretinous crusties. The papier mâché horsemen of the Apocalypse will turn their heads inquiringly in his direction. “What do we want?” he will demand again, a shade more hysterically, and by this time the rioters will be looking at their feet and coughing. Er. What do they want? The embarrassing truth is that they haven’t a clue.

Boris supplies a slogan

They say they want to “burn a banker” and “stop the City”, and no matter how superficially appealing those ambitions may be, it is hard to see how they can be turned into practical economic policies.
So, in a spirit of compassion, let me give the G20 protesters the slogan they need. Here is a demand they could make that would transform the lives and hopes of millions of the poorest people on earth. It is a global stimulus package that doesn’t involve borrowing untold trillions from future generations. It is something the world’s leaders have been trying and failing to do for the past nine years, and if I were the man with the megaphone my cry would be: “What do we want? The completion of the Doha Round of world trade talks! When do we want it? Now!”

But seriously …

I have never wavered in my view that the former mayor Ken Livingstone had broadly made a positive impact on the lives of Londoners through his transport policy, not excluding the road tax system. But he’s history. That’s democracy. Londoners opted for Boris, the leader they preferred, and who is in danger of becoming a serious politician sneaking in thoughtful messages, almost subliminally while preserving his other roles as a national jester, cultural hero, and popularist leader against the mad running dogs infected with the political correctness virus.

London will remain relatively untouched after the protesters and G20 leaders depart. It remains to be seen how Boris Johnson’s career unfolds. Journalist, mayor of London …leader of the conservative party?