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                                                                                                                           Asean Affairs August 9, 2013  

Bank Charges

Is there a good psychotherapist in the house? I’m not sure what my strange but vivid but dream last night meant.

Setting – The not too distant future. In a courtroom where I was presiding (see I told you it was strange). This was, apparently, the show trial of the criminal masterminds behind the money-making ring that had perpetuated their interests and those of their shady paymasters until everything went wrong and they’d been overthrown in the May Day uprising of 2014 led by a group figureheaded by Paul Krugman –

“But I think Paul Krugman is right no more than half the time and a complete numpty the other half, why did he make me the big judge?” I interjected so hard I nearly woke up before a disembodied big brother voice reassured me back into my deep REM slumber - “That is precisely why Chairman Krugman made you the ahem ‘Chief Dispenser of Economic Justice’ – he wishes there to be debate among society not more acceptance and acquiescence….and also I suspect that deep down the Chairman indeed recognizes that he is, as you say, ‘right half the time’ and somewhat of a numptyesque persuasion the other half and therefore that makes you a good judge, or rather chief dispenser”.

It turned out that Chairman Krugman’s advisors had decided to call 3 distinct groups to account:
1)     The really guilty: The supply-side politicians and economists of the 1980s who were mainly now dead or no longer sentient and therefore able to shoulder their responsibility.
I saw that I’d written all over the charge sheet Milton Friedman was never sentient, I’d still like to run him through with a pitchfork – see if that can be arranged.

2)     The next group comprised the currently serving elected politicians who Krugman and the new global council had already referred to me for in a prior trial. I had apparently decided that as these people could serve no useful purpose for society were so clueless that they couldn’t be called to account for their crimes and were so divorced from reality that their little parts of Westminster and Peking could be kept as kind of giant ‘Big Brother’ houses, a TV entertainment for everyone else’s benefits where the participants actually thought they were living out their lives but in reality were just trapped in a crass TV cage for everyone else’s amusement and entertainment. For purpose-built government cities like Canberra, Brussels, DC and Ottawa the existence of already purpose– built ‘Big Brother’ communities made this even easier – we just needed to put an impenetrable glass fence around.

3)     The final group was the organized crime ring of racketeers whose lives Chairman Krugman had already spared when he’s persuaded the mob not to tear them apart with their bare hands.
I had to be objective but I had history with these guys – they’d all really pissed me off in the past.

The defendants –

Fist change sheet was Mark ‘Babyface’ Carney – in many ways the case against Babyface was the weakest - he’d only recently become the head of a big crime family, having previously been out in the boonies, biding his time, waiting for a bright lights, big city break. When he finally got it, he’d taken it with both hands though and tried really hand to make up for lost time.

Next up was Mario ‘the banker’ Draghi. This was the guy I really had problems with – the merciless way he’d condemned tens of millions of people to abject poverty and suffering just to please ‘Angela’, his moll. This guy was a nasty piece of work - anyone who crossed him would tell you that. The number of journalists who he had ‘rubbed out’ (from the Press Conference Invitation Lists) was just scary. He had the kind of reptilian eyes you can’t trust and he’d happily betrayed his own country and quite a few others because of his fatal attraction to Fraulein Merkel. He was a slippery one all night.
And finally Ben ‘The Boss’ Bernanke - Everyone else thought that this guy was the ringleader but I wasn’t so sure - This seemed like a guy who couldn’t actually yank his own chain and ever since ‘the banker’ had come along, his behaviour had changed and become even more callous.

Well to cut a long story short, Babyface soon had wet cheeks blubbery like … well like a baby.

“I didn’t mean to do it. I didn’t know it was wrong. They told me to do it. That first MPC meeting, the forward guidance, that was their idea and then the markets loved it and I just kind of got addicted and kept doing it more and more but it wasn’t really my fault. It…..”

Even in my sleep I couldn’t listen to any more of this: “Babyface, your last MPC meeting in April 2014, the guidance you gave was, and I quote, the policy rate will be set at between 0.0001 and 0.0002 % for the next 5 millennium. Mario and I hope that helps reassure markets once again! Come on Babyface, is that a very responsible or adult way to run monetary policy.”
He broke down at this stage - crying hysterically face down on the desk which he was banging with both his tiny fists.

“Wah ahah ah - I’m sorry. They said it would be ok. They made me do it. Especially …” (at this point he sat upright, sniffed, wiped his nose onto his cuff, composed himself and pointed at ‘The Banker’ “- especially him”.

That judgement was easy “OK Babyface - you’re getting away with a caution and a Big Brother House of Parliament arrest - off to Westminster for a life sentence in that instruction for mental defectives. I think you’ll be at home there”.

Next I sentenced ‘The Boss’. I spoke softly. “Ben, you were happy in Princeton weren’t you?” He nodded. “Ben you have what we call cognitus academicus” - He looked puzzled. “Basically Ben it means that you can read and analyse every published work on a topic and produce compelling critiques. However the minute you confront any external reality you haven’t that slightest idea what you’re doing, do you?” He shook his head sadly and admitted “I don’t know how any of the large or small appliances in my house actually work. I can’t even turn on the shower by myself. How could they put someone like me in charge of world economy?” He shook his head sadly “I’m a real screw-up aren’t I?”

“I had to agree with him as I sentenced Princeton’s Economics unit to be enclosed form the outside world and televised on a new channel that Krugman wanted to launch called Wonk-TV. Finally, it was the turn of the Banker’.

He was the only one with the chutzpah to brazen it out - “Our policies were working. I was doing whatever it takes - Europe was recovering. The world was getting better - my boys Ben and Mark, they were listening to me and doing what I told them to. Why did Krugman have to interfere? Yes there was a big problem with growth and also employment but that wasn’t affecting those of us that matter.” When I asked him to explain this, especially to the Greek, Irish, Cypriot, Italian and Spanish people and to also explain the truth about rumours that he’d been brainwashed during his period as Managing Director of Goldman Sachs, he seemed to lose it. “The truth? The truth? You can’t handle the truth. You need people like me to keep you safe…”

Luckily this was all only a dream with no grounding whatsoever in reality. None at all.

Er,  what was that Dr. Freud?

As always, you can view this or any of MBMG blogs at


* MBMG Group's Women for Women is hosting another event, "Women & Entrepreneurship: Challenges and Opportunities" on August 27, 2013. For more information check out our website

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More






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