Is the answer to our economic woes, as The Who famously put it, Behind Blue Eyes?
As we slog through this economy, we search to simplify the causes, to understand why and how we got into this mess. And the answers are not quick in coming, nor easy to articulate.
Along comes Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva with the simple truth we have been seeking. In a press conference yesterday, he attributed the global financial crisis to people who are “white” and “blue-eyed.”
This was a crisis that was fostered and boosted by the irrational behaviour of people who were white and blue-eyed, who before the crisis they looked like they knew everything about economics, but now have demonstrated they know nothing about economics,” he said. Hmm.
Lula de Silva is crying foul that developing nations suffer alongside the wealthier countries. “…The fact is that once again we find that most of the poor who have not even participated in globalization have been the first victims of the crisis,” he said.
First of all, let’s examine Brazil’s role in the global market. According to the CIA World Factbook, Brazil is the ninth-largest economy in the world, with a 5.2% “real” growth rate in 2008, due mostly to the “record trade surpluses” on exports such as coffee, soybeans, wheat, rice, corn, sugarcane, cocoa, citrus; beef. Though the USA’s GDP is nearly seven times that of Brazil’s, our GDP growth for 2008 was but 1.4% in 2008. Brazil has most certainly participated in and benefited from globalization. If you want to share in the globalization of the profits, el presidente, you have to be ready to share in the globalization of the losses. Don’t come to the party, then leave when it’s time to clean up.
Second, let’s look at Lula de Silva’s word choices. Suppose President Obama were to blame Brazilians for some aspect of this crisis, perhaps owed to the trade imbalance, by describing them according to their skin and eye-color. He, and the nation he represents, would be called Racist. Lula de Silva apparently gets a pass. the story didn’t even make the national news, nor did it appear on CNN’s feature links this weekend.
He could have lay blame on the “wealthy,” on the “powerful,” on the “Consuming Americans,” on the “greedy,” on the “CEOS,” on the “bankers,”…but instead, he ridiculously points his finger at people based on race and eye color.