It didn’t take long to crank up the backlash against European voters. This is inevitable whenever a socialist wins a major election, but particularly now, when new French president François Hollande rode to victory shouting, "Austerity can no longer be inevitable!"
This sounds like the beginning of what will be a very heated debate over who has to pay for the excesses of the financial crisis. It was previously assumed that everybody but the actual financial services sector would have to pay, but voters in Europe now are refusing to go along, sparking a wave of eye-rolling editorials in the financial press. Even David Brooks got into the act today, penning a lugubrious editorial about the errant political instincts of the populist masses here and abroad.
Markets all over the world freaked out over the prospect of having ignorant European voters meddling in the recovery process the geniuses of the high finance world had already painstakingly laid out for them. The model for economic progress in the financial bubble era, after all, is supposed to go something like this:
1. Let banks inflate massive asset bubbles with the aid of cheap or even free government cash, and tons of leverage;
2. Before it all explodes, carve out gigantic sums for bonuses and compensation for the companies that inflated those bubbles;
3. After it explodes, get the various governments to bail those companies out;
4. Pay for it all by slashing services to what’s left of the middle class.
This is the model we used in America. We had a monster asset bubble based on phony mortgages, which Wall Street was allowed to inflate to spectacular dimensions with minimal reserve capital, huge amounts of leverage, and tons of fraud for good measure. When that bubble exploded, we first rescued the banks who inflated the thing in the first place, and then our plan for paying for it mostly revolved around folks like Paul Ryan and Chris Christie, who made great political hay by trying to take an ax to "entitlements" like health care and retirement benefits.