Monday, December 15, 2008

Financial Crisis Roundup

It has not fallen to the intrepid staff of Occidents Will Happen to inform the general reader about the global financial meltdown. You know all about it already. But here are a few interesting perspectives anyway:

Iceland has suffered the collapse of its banking system, but on the bright side, they're the happiest people in the world. John Carlin attributes the honor to its roots as a pagan culture, the empowerment of women, social acceptance of nontraditional families, and hot sulfurous mineral water for every household...

The flow of capital across middle Europe just got a little faster, but don't make the mistake of thinking that the Swiss are now team players. They just agreed to open their borders and allow traffic through without passport checks. The agreement also means that Switzerland has access to the Schengen Information System, a pan-European database with information on stolen property and missing persons. So, rather than doing away with the border, they have just moved it farther out of the physical realm and into the informational one...

Daniel Gross sends up Thomas Friedman's discredited McDonald's theory of conflict resolution with his new Starbucks theory of international economics. Countries that optimistically overextended themselves in the last few years (Spain, the U.K.) are the hardest hit by recent bad times. They are also the most likely to overcharge for whipped, sugary hot drinks. What more appropriate harbinger of decadent lending practices than the spread of the Seattle-based coffee chain? Billy Childish, in an interview with Ian Svenonius, puts an even finer point on it:

[In England], we don't have any industry anymore. We've got coffee. Frothy coffee with a funny name. Some people serve it and other people drink it. Other than that, we don't have industry. So you can actually divide the western world up into producers of strangely-named cappuccinos, and people who drink it...and I suppose I'm a producer of froth.