19 September, 2012

Money and mythology

Jens Weidmann, president if the Bundesbank, is against the bond purchase scheme of Mario Draghi, head of the European Central Bank.

Weidmann, in a recent speech in Frankfurt, reminds his German audience of Part 2 of Goethe's Faust, where Mephistopheles persuades the Holy Roman Emperor to make things happier for the people by printing paper money against gold which has not yet been mined (see any parallels here?). Of course it ends in misery, as it was to do in the real Germany within 100 years of Goethe's work.

Frankfurt is the birthplace of Goethe, as well as the home of the European Central Bank.

Here is food for thought: whereas in the English version of the Faust myth, written by Christopher Marlowe some 200 years earlier, Faust, at the end of his pact with the devil, is carried off screaming to Hell, in Goethe's version he is forgiven at the last minute by God, who declares that continual hard work, as Faust had demonstrated in his thirst for knowledge, is enough to get you to Heaven.

It brings the dystopian vision of the few Brits arriving in Paradise to find the seats covered with German towels.

And Mario Draghi? He has a slightly Mephistophelean smile, and there has still been no explanation of how all this money will be mopped up when it has done its job.

The hero of the piece could well turn out to be Weidmann (and of course the great soldier, statesman, scientist and poet  J.W.von Goethe).

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