Alex Massie

Hope We Better Believe In?

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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during afternoon trading February 10, 2009 in New York City. MarkMarkets were down nearly 400 points after Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner detailed the administrations plans to battle the financial crisis. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Last year you couldn't open a newspaper without seeing photographs of Distressed Traders wondering what to do now that their world was collapsing. But times change and the media craves novelty. So now we get Confused Traders instead. This seems reasonable. After all, here's Paul Krugman:

An old joke from my younger days: What do you get when you cross a Godfather with a deconstructionist? Someone who makes you an offer you can’t understand.

I found myself remembering that joke when trying to make sense of the Geithner financial rescue plan. It’s really not clear what the plan means; there’s an interpretation that makes it not too bad, but it’s not clear if that’s the right interpretation. One need not share Mr Krugman's politics to observe, like Jon Chait, that if the most recent Nobel Laureate for Economics is struggling to make sense of any of this then there's only so much point in trying to figure it out for oneself. Then again, Megan McArdle says that Geithner didn't so much announce a plan as a "fervent wish" and, in the circumstances, it doesn't seem so unreasonable to have hoped for a little more than that.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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