Epic Fail: Political Leadership of the Global Economy Has Been a Disaster

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By Martin Baccardax | November 7, 2012 1:52 AM EST

Leaders of the G20 nations gather for a group photo at the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico

When the gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers, said Oscar Wilde.

We might not have prayed for the kind of economic leadership that's steering us into the rocks of a dangerous global recession, but we're certainly being punished by it.

The clarion call to supplant the sugar-rush of financial sector boom in the wake of the Lehman Brothers bust with a sober and considered strategy of consistent growth from our central planners has fallen flat on its face as the world stares down the barrel of a global recession brought on by the breathtaking ineptness of our political leaders.

The failure might not be - at least to date - as spectacular as the global bonfire that nearly burned the world's financial system to a cinders, but its slow, flickering flame is no less incendiary.

Greece's entirely manageable budget gap has grown like a multi-billion euro fungus that's rotting growth prospects around the Eurozone thanks to what can only be described as criminal idiocy from Berlin to Madrid and beyond.

It's taken down governments, collapsed at least three economies, threatens two more, has put more than 12 million Europeans out of work and given rise to the long-dormant beast of far-right extremism.

Sadly, Europe isn't alone with its incompetence.

America's own fragile recovery is at risk because of a spell-bindingly childish spat between rival politicians who agreed to cap a long-term budget beforereaching a deal on day-to-day spending - which, incidentally, hasn't been under the long-term cap since the last live Beatles concert. It's a bit like telling your 8-year old to get up at 6 o'clock in the morning but allowing her to stay up all night watching television.

The resultant "gridlock" has hamstrung investment and jobs growth and threatens to sink the world's biggest economy back into recession as early as next year. Yet even with this ill-conceived albatross draped round the neck of the Congress, lawmakers have instead focused their election debates on issues such as rape, abortion, one man's tax returns and another's birth certificate.

Meanwhile, in China, the ultimate Asian Tiger's economic miracle is grinding to a disappointing halt as its bloated leadership focuses on damage control and media suppression in the wake of several high-profile corruption scandals instead of reforming the paralyzing bureaucracy of its byzantine domestic economy.

Across the sea, Japan's leaders have felt it necessary to pick at a century-old wound with its most important trading partner - over a deserted island in the middle of nowhere - just as it's sclerotic economy is limping away from its worst natural disaster in history and two lost-decades of growth thanks to a cowardly unwillingness to allow its zombie banks to fail.

Which brings us to Britain, where the Conservative-led coalition is content with sacrificing its ephemeral economic comeback through spending cuts that hit the nation's poorest for the sake of something called "austerity" - despite the fact that its currency sovereignty, independent central bank and record low interest rates mean it is literally - in the literal sense of the world - unable to default on its debt.

Ever.

And while rival Labour politicians excoriate their rivals over spending cuts, they simultaneously vote to demand a multi-billion euro budget reduction in Brussels simply to "win" an attention deficit disordered news cycle and embarrass the sitting government.

It's no better in Canada, either, when the nation sends its resource exporters all over the world to rip the natural elements out of the ground in someone else's country, but invokes its deliberately mysterious "national interest" defence whenever (it seems) a foreign company starts kicking one of those company's tires.

Say what you will about the unfettered market forces which spawned the 2008 financial crisis - you wouldn't be the first - but at the very least you could agree that its motives, while purely self-interested, we are least transparently basic.

And, many would argue, they ultimately resulted in a tide that lifted many boats around the world through the transformation of emerging economies and the creation of a true globalisation.

The current patchwork of policy that's reigning in growth and costing lives and jobs all around the world is nearly as impossible to comprehend as it is to defend.

Germany's incredibly cynical ploy to stretch out the current crisis and consign Greece, Cyprus and Spain to the scrap heap simply to avoid it contaminating the government's upcoming re-election campaign is disgraceful. The insistence of all those nations that others pay for its largess while its leaders avoid taxes, arrest journalists and demand unpopular spending cuts from its regional governors is immoral.

Britain's intransigence towards any policy alteration that might improve its nation's fortunes simply to avoid the accusation of "u-turning" is contemptuous.

America's irresponsibility with its reserve currency privilege and its unwillingness to tell its coddled citizens the truth about their unsustainable lifestyles is shameful.

Canada's global trade hypocrisy is merely ridiculous and ultimately self-defeating in nation that's at least 1 million workers shy of competitive productivity.

Japan's efforts to distract its citizens from the assured downward spiral into demographic irrelevance with sabre rattling of the most impotent kind is pathetic.

And China is, well, China.

If we're keeping track of who's to blame for the economic mess that's hung over the world for the past four years, I'd say it's at best a score-draw.

Trouble is, we all lose.

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