Let Them Eat Caviar

There are moments in history when events seem to take on a world of their own. For most people they see events, calamities, wars, depressions, and more in total. Most never look (or even bother) to do some form of epidemiology to current events. It all appears too distant to contemplate ever having any real impact on them.

Just as the world seen by Alice was on the other side of the looking-glass so too does this resemble that fictional story. Everything today seems to be on the other side of the glass whether it be a smart phone, tablet, computer, or TV. However, unlike Alice who had to venture thru the glass, this version of reality may just envelop one without needing to go thru to the other side because – we are the other side.

Let’s forget about remembering fictional stories and focus on the real. Anyone with even an interest in history realizes: “The largest events in history began with what appeared minuscule in comparison. It’s not the size of the first event rather, it’s how the escalation takes place afterwards.”

This past week we saw European officials impose by a dictatorial fiat the confiscation of people’s bank deposits in Cyprus. This is not something one can chalk up with a misunderstanding in legal language. If you had money in a Cyprus bank that you believed was yours – you don’t now. Period.

Along with the not knowing how much might be left, they also have no access to it because the banks that were at first to be closed for a “holiday” have been ordered to remain closed until further notice. From holiday, to extended stay, and now they’re on to “vacation.” All with depositors money paying the traveling costs. I wonder if one gets an additional appliance to go along with the toaster? But, I digress.

One thing I could not clear out of mind this week was the absolute oblivious presence this event had on nearly everyone I either came in contact with, as well as the so-called “smart crowd” across the media. I watched with utter amazement as Fed. Chairman Ben Bernanke was questioned during his scheduled press conference Wednesday by the financial media.

With Europe in complete political disarray where 10’s if not 100’s of thousands are taking to the streets in protest against governments, bank bailouts, and more. Then to be followed with a stunning seminal event where monetary officials by decree confiscated ordinary people’s money (along with so-called dirty laundry) possibly setting off an Archduke Ferdinand moment in terms of a monetary crisis. Not a single question referencing it was asked till about 15 minutes in. As if it was: “Oh yeah by the way – what’s the deal with this scuffle in Europe, any thoughts?” I said to myself – “Really – I mean really?”

The questions from my standpoint were ludicrous in terms of importance. One needs to think: “What in the world could have more importance today to the Chairman of The Federal Reserve? The Fed’s responses (whether one agrees with or not) have arguably been the sole reason for any stabilizing effect for most (if not all) past European monetary crisis. So how in the name of sanity is what’s taking place in Cyprus not only the first question – but the only question?!” Then I received my answer.

One of the final questions started off with (I’m paraphrasing): “Mr. Chairman, I could finish this meeting and ask you what are your “brackets” (in reference to college basketball) but I’ll ask this instead.” Everyone in the room including the chairman laughed – ha, ha, ha, then went on to answer some pointless question in regards to other events at hand. I was left shaking my head in absolute disgust.

It was quite evident for anyone who’s developed their cognitive skills as to be able to read people in real-time (which I am one) and watched the Chairman’s meeting, one could garner he appeared to be far more nervous in his mannerisms and speech. To my eye noticeably so than previous meetings. You may not see it as I do. Or you might be inclined to think I’m projecting. Yes, it’s only my gut reaction however, I’ve been proven right more times than wrong so, I’ll let others judge for themselves.

Again what is really at issue to me is just how unnoticed or oblivious this event has gone by the public at large. So much so it’s almost frightening on how misinformed or ill-informed many people in general are, and once again seemingly relying on the premise that “It couldn’t happen here.” Given the back drop of 2008. As scary as I find that, I find it equally fascinating.

Of course this exact scenario might not happen here. However, that doesn’t mean the ramifications of what does happen “there” doesn’t have implication for what does happens here. Yet, that’s very hard to get across to someone today because if they aren’t following events along as you or I might. Any attempt to condense what has transpired; and why you believe the dangers are so onerous – you begin to sound like you’re crazy! Or, someone who’s watched a few too many doomsday prepping shows.

You can’t give a thumbnail sketch of the situation that just transpired in Cyprus along with trying to explain or express the ramifications it could have on the political powder kegs happening in Italy, France, Greece. and more. Let alone the monetary crisis if Cyprus is seen as the shock that scrambles millions upon millions of depositors in banks across Europe to begin withdrawing money because, “If it happened to them…”

Put that along with the Geo-political ramification of Russia announcing they’re sending a “permanent fleet” to the Mediterranean within hours of the decree of bank deposits being seized. Then add how Christine Lagarde head of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) had her home raided by French police the very same week as the body she heads mandated this confiscation in Cyprus.

Follow that with reminding one she holds her position because the person originally in that post, Dominique Strauss-Kahn (aka DSK) was roiled in a sex scandal of epic proportions squashing his bid for political office as well as everything else. Then was cleared as if: “Ooooops, sorry. Carry on.”

All of this amidst a backdrop of Greece in turmoil nearing insolvency while protesting against being in the European Union and threatening to leave. Italy having 100’s of thousands by some reports filling the streets in protest of their government along with cries of interventionist outrage against the EU and more.

So disgusted were the Italians with their political class they voted for Italian comedian Beppe Grillo and he won political office with a shocking amount of support. All to the dismay of the so-called “smart crowd” that originally brushed his calls for change off as “carnival like.”

Maybe I’m the one who just doesn’t get it. Maybe the most informative thing to come out of the Chairman’s meeting was the very thing which I scoffed at?

If we put the events of the last few years into some form of “brackets,” would people be paying more attention? Seems to me if you don’t follow brackets in March – you’re not informed. And, this weekend politically has all the making to be more spectacular than any final four in recent memory.

I just wonder if Ms. Antoinette would agree with Ms. Lagarde et al in their thinking? For as she recommended cake, caviar is a much more serious finger food. And, may have served up a can of worms.

Not a canape’s.

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr