Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, Fitch, can you hear me? Get stuffed!

The edge of the precipice, misery, a black hole: we can’t see the wood for the trees in this political and economic crisis. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to tell the financial markets to listen to us instead of the other way around, writes graduate student René van Leeuwen.

In September I will be allowed to vote for the third time in my life. I’m 24 and a bit. If this continues and we have elections every year I’ll have voted for parliament six times by the time I’m 30.
So while I’m no longer a novice when it comes to things political I still don’t have a better understanding of what’s going on.
The cabinet collapsed. Time for some explanations, I thought. Any intellectual (cough) worth his salt does not depend on one medium to make his mind up, so I watched more than one channel and read more than one paper. I wish I hadn’t. A columnist who doesn’t know either, is that allowed?
On the Volkskrant website for example, professor Verbon said we should be happy the cabinet had collapsed. The proposed cutbacks would have been disastrous for the economy. And, more importantly, in the long term they wouldn’t significantly affect the budget deficit.
On RTL-Z some other learned gentleman said something completely different. The collapse of the cabinet would also mean the collapse of ‘the financial markets’. I put ‘financial markets’ between quotation marks: I have no idea what they are.
Black hole
So far, so ignorant. The frightening thing is, however, that all these economists and analysts have no idea how this black hole, which, apparently, rules our economy, is going to behave. They don’t agree, so much is certain. And who am I to believe? The economist with the bluest eyes?
Anyway, we’re falling. We’re taking the biggest tumble since the depression of the thirties. Think about the deficit, people! The deficit! And the interest, for goodness sake! We’re all doomed, one hysterical economist cried. A slight feeling of panic seemed to be getting hold.
A text banner on the screen kept repeating: AEX at all time low. Small fires were started. Men in ties made for the coffee machine in a daze. Computer screens flew over the trading floor at 130 km an hour.
The international papers did agree, NRC wrote. If the Netherlands can’t reassure ‘the financial markets’, who can it reassure. We have become an indicator. An indicator for imminent and deep misery. ( Or as comedian Lewis Black said ‘put straws in your nose, the river of shit is rising’).
Couldn’t we tell ‘’ the financial markets’ to listen to us instead of the other way around? I’ll start things off in a conference call: ‘Hello, this is Van Leeuwen. Standard & Poor, Fitch, can you hear me? Good. I would like to say the following, with, of course, the same warmth that your markets have been displaying towards people: get stuffed. I’m sure you understand. Ok. Thanks a lot, bye now’.
The effect of the collapse of the cabinet on ‘the financial markets’? Are you asking me? Never mind, we’ll find out soon enough. Let’s go back to politics. It’s the voters’ turn now and then, then we’ll have security, democracy. Won’t we? After the elections all will be clear. It will, won’t it?
René van Leeuwen is studying for a Masters degree at Erasmus University, Rotterdam. This column was originally published in the Volkskrant.

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