Category Archives: economics

A fucked-up forecast

In Lars Porsena or the Future of Swearing and Improper Language (1927), Robert Graves noted a decline in the use of foul language.

He projected that this would continue until foul language had all but disappeared from the average man’s vocabulary.

Dalrymple comments:

History has not borne Graves out, to say the least: indeed, I have known economists make more accurate predictions.

Social-climbing cretins

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 05.06.50The novelist Michel Houellebecq’s theme, writes Dalrymple, is

the emptiness of human existence in a consumer society devoid of religious belief, political project, or cultural continuity.

Thanks to material abundance and social security,

there is no struggle for existence that might give meaning to the life of millions. Such a society will not allow you to go hungry or to live in the abject poverty that would once have been the reward of idleness. This lends an inspissated pointlessness to all human activity, which becomes nothing more than a scramble for unnecessary consumer goods that confer no happiness or (at best) a distraction from that very emptiness.

For Houellebecq,

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Michel Houellebecq

intellectual or cultural activity becomes mere soap opera for the more intelligent and educated rather than something of intrinsic importance or value. That is why a university teacher of economics in one of his books describes his work as the teaching of obvious untruths to careerist morons, rather than as, say, the awakening of young minds to the fascinating task of reducing the complexity of social interactions to general principles.

Dalrymple is referring here to the character Hélène in Houellebecq’s 2010 novel La Carte et le Territoire. Here is a passage from the English-language edition (tr. Gavin Bowd):

On the whole, young people no longer interested Hélène much. Her students were at such a terrifyingly low intellectual level that, sometimes, you had to wonder what had pushed them into studying in the first place. The only reply, she knew in her heart of hearts, was that they wanted to make money, as much money as possible; aside from a few short-term humanitarian fads, that was the only thing that really got them going. Her professional life could thus be summarised as teaching contradictory absurdities to social-climbing cretins.

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 05.15.19Obvious untruths (Dalrymple); contradictory absurdities (Houellebecq). Dalrymple has stated:

I say, throw economics to the dogs; I’ll have none of it.

Houellebecq’s Hélène is no less disillusioned than Dalrymple:

Her interest in economics had waned over the years. More and more, the theories which tried to explain economic phenomena, to predict their developments, appeared almost equally inconsistent and random. She was more and more tempted to liken them to pure and simple charlatanism; it was even surprising, she occasionally thought, that they gave a Nobel prize for economics, as if this discipline could boast the methodological seriousness, the intellectual rigour, of chemistry or physics.

Acute diplomatosis

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 07.58.03Prognosis: more riots

Dalrymple provides a brief overview of viral diploma-tosis, explaining that in the disease, there is the assumption that

since a modern economy requires educated people, the more educated people it can call upon—as measured by the average number of years in school—the more productive that economy will be. On this view, education is in itself the motor of growth, and the demand for educated labour will automatically keep up with, if not outstrip, the supply.

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 08.01.11University of life

He points to the dangers of

educating young people for many years and denying them first the opportunity to earn a living that they believe is commensurate with their education, and then the opportunity to earn a living at all.

 

The sage of CMC Markets

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Michael Hewson: han är respekterad för sina öppna och direkta åsikter om vad som händer på marknaden

Dalrymple realises how foolishly he has frittered away so much of his time when he reads the following statement by Michael Hewson of CMC Markets:

Having had a couple of days to absorb the details of the new Greece debt deal, equity markets have continued to remain upbeat, despite the fact that the proposal is economically illiterate and probably doomed to fail.

Dalrymple comments:

Economically illiterate and only probably doomed to fail? In other words, the link between economic literacy on the one hand and success or failure on the other is uncertain at best. Economically illiterate but possibly will succeed? Economically literate but possibly will fail? Mr Hewson of CMC Markets clearly doesn’t want to put all his eggs in one predictive basket. Therefore I say, throw economics to the dogs.

We are all guilty!

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Kiosk, by ffolkes

This was the cry of Dr Heinz Kiosk, the eminent social psychologist and chief psychiatric adviser to the Meringue, Éclair and Profiterole Authority, in Michael Wharton’s ‘Peter Simple’ column in the London Daily Telegraph newspaper. It is also the heading atop an article on the Western economic mess in which Dalrymple makes the point that

it is not only governments that have been improvident and have spent well beyond their means; millions, scores of millions, of perfectly ordinary people have done so as well. Our banks were no good, our government was no good, and we were no good.

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Wharton

Postcards from Dalrympleland

Britain: home to the world’s most charmless people

Dalrymple on his country’s parlous state

  • Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 02.14.39Creeping Sovietisation

Large areas…resemble the Soviet Union with takeaway pizza. The only ‘private’ enterprise consists of retail chains that recycle government subventions to the unemployed. The middle class…is composed…of public employees…who cater to the…problems created by mass unemployment.

  • Circumambient criminality

At the start of the [deutero-Elizabethan age], Britain was one of the best-ordered societies in…Europe. Now…it is…the most crime-ridden….social disorder is everywhere….A curfew has been imposed on old people by the drunken disorder that appals and disgusts foreigners.

  • Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 16.16.18Pervasive squalor

The…ugliness perpetrated…everywhere [by post-war architects] has been…matched by an ugliness of soul and society that is so obvious to visitors.

  • Fraudulence at every level
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Seth Pecksniff

The country has become deeply corrupt, but in a…British way, that is, hypocritical and underhand rather than worldly and cynical, Pecksniff rather than Talleyrand. Corruption and irresponsibility…have been legalised: £12bn, for example, has disappeared (except for some…consultants) on a…scheme to provide…uniform medical records….No crime has been committed, but the money has gone.

  • Cock-eyed, increasingly useless policing

Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 16.20.44Our police, once a model to the world…resemble an alien occupying army…festooned with…the apparatus of repression, who inspire fear…in the innocent and are bullying yet ineffectual.

  • Institutionalised idleness

2.9 million people claiming to be so ill that they could not work….the British benefits system performed the miracle of causing more invalids than World War I….policy has been to suck in large amounts of unskilled foreign labour while maintaining high…indigenous unemployment.

  • Economic collapse

Economically on a knife-edge….per capita private debt among the highest….huge commercial deficit….budget deficit among the highest.

  • Gracelessness and sordor

    Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 16.25.27

    Fuck off!

Many grow up into profoundly unsocial beings of whom others are afraid. A population has emerged that is the most charmless in the world.

The rotting euro

More economics commentary from Dalrymple, who here outlines his theory of what he terms mutually assured worthlessness.

The evils of fiat money

For a man who has never opened an economics textbook in his life, Dalrymple is remarkably lucid on the dismal science.