Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Miracle of the Assumption of the Debt

Once upon a time, the peoples of a continent decided to cast the money changers from their lands. They struggled and strove for many a year, after decades creating an economic and monetary union. Then they rested, thinking it was a mighty union.

But humankind had not cast avarice, envy, corruption or deceit from their souls. Cunning and crafty investments were begat, which were multiplied by the chicanery of money changers and the mendacity of borrowers. A few voices cried out in the wilderness, warning of the dangers of cupidity and the trickery of false prophets who promised endless wealth and prosperity from borrowing and spending.

But the people continued to dream of opulence, and worshiped debt all the more. The flow of guileful investments became a flood, and the wickedness of these investments emerged as a rising potential for default. Many peoples of the monetary union were threatened with calamity. They were sore afraid.

They turned to the wealthy northerly people of the union, and pleaded for manna. The northerly people, who felt as if they were being asked to feed a multitude with a few fishes and loaves, hesitated, protesting that the yoke of a bailout would be difficult and the burden heavy. They said that the spendthrifts in the union were reaping the harvest of their extravagance, and that the deluge of bad debt was punishment for their covetousness. But the high priests of the monetary union proclaimed that if the northerly people failed to render aid, trumpets would sound, and chaos and darkness would cover the Earth.

The northerly people did not see themselves as a shepherd feeding his flock. They insisted that the profligate in the monetary union cease their avaricious ways and purify their national budgets of deficits. They demanded that lenders bear some losses and be made to wash the feet of lepers. To protect the prosperity they had worked hard to attain, the northerly people offered only temporary assistance, making no commitments beyond three years.

The waters of the deluge of bad debt kept rising, threatening more and more peoples of the monetary union. Soothsayers prophesied swarms of locusts, plagues, poisonous serpents, and the wrath of the bond markets. From the skies came flashes of lightning and peals of thunder.

The northerly people trembled, and as the twelve days of Christmas approached announced they would join with the rest of the monetary union to build an ark, a permanent fund to support the common currency. While many details of this covenant remain to be worked out, the ark appears intended to save all the peoples of the monetary union.

The good tidings swept across the continent. Debtors were elated and shouted to one another, "Fear not. For unto us is borne this day by others the burdens of our debts. Our iniquity is pardoned. Hallelujah!"

It was a miracle, the miracle of the assumption of the debt. While the waters of the deluge of bad debt have yet to part, if the monetary union can truly be fiscally moral, and not morally hazardous, it may indeed attain a state of grace.

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