I meet Nobel prize laureate Paul Krugman in the lobby of the lush New York Palace Hotel to talk about his new book “Why Europe Sucks”. To my surprise he only wants to talk about yesterday’s Eurovision Song Contest.
Canoy: Can you tell our readers what your new book is about?
Krugman: Forget about the bloody book. This Eurovision Song contest. What a joke!
Canoy: What do you mean?
Krugman: As if the euro has a ‘vision’. To let somebody called ‘Forest’ win with bare feet, primitive base drums and a childish flute. Surely this must be a direct and deeply personal austerity provocation.
Canoy: Isn’t this a bit farfetched?
Krugman: Not at all. I mean Azerbaijan coming second. An obvious proof that Europe hasn’t learned anything from the Greek drama. To start with, Azerbaijan is not European and its economy diverges wildly from the rest. I mean how can you enter a contest with a GDP per capita of a meagre $10,700? Even Cyprus has $27,000. No surprise that the song is called “Hold me”. Not to mention Ukraine coming third.
Canoy: GDP per capita as a criterion for entering the Eurovision Song contest?
Krugman: It is all premeditated by my good friend European Commissioner Ollie Rehn to artificially boost his sick austerity agenda. I mean how coincidental is it that Denmark wins.
Canoy: But Rehn is Finnish.
Krugman: Once a Viking always a Viking. What comes next? China entering the euro? President Barroso being replaced by comrade Vladimir Putin?
Canoy: Will your assault on the Eurovision contest enter your book?
Krugman: Too late. I will keep that for the sequel “Why Europe really sucks”
Canoy: But what is so wrong with this innocuous contest?
Krugman: Too much history, too many declarations, too much ego is invested in the contest for those involved ever to admit that maybe they made a mistake. Even if the project ends in total disaster, they will insist that the Eurovision contest didn’t fail Europe, Europe failed the Eurovision contest.
Canoy: But why does it fail? It appeared that many people were happy yesterday.
Krugman: Austerity songs lead to much deeper sad songs in the periphery — and because peripheral austerity songs were not offset by jubilant songs in the core, the result will be in fact a slump for the European economy as a whole.
Canoy: But isn’t such a contest exactly what you always advocate? Governments put quite a bit of money in it. Consumers will be buoyant and will start spending serious money.
Krugman: It is all substitution. They will spend money on trivial austerity song paraphernalia, instead of more useful purchases, such as my new book.
Canoy: What could Europe be doing differently?
Krugman: Aggressive singing and musical expansion in the core will ease the process of internal adjustment. A total reversal of austerity songs in favour of happy singing will be the thing to do. European officials remain in deep denial about the fundamentals of the situation. They keep declaring success of austerity songs. Yesterday´s result being the ultimate proof of my thesis. So that’s where we are. And it’s hard to envisage a happy ending.