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High times at Delphi.

I flew to Delphi to consult with the oracle, and the old girl had a lot to say about 2012. Pythia, her real name, is getting on in years: she's around 2,500 years old. Despite her lifestyle--she smokes exotic cheroots, gets high, and then foresees the future--she still makes sense.

When I was ushered into her inner sanctum just below Delphi, on the Gulf of Corinth, she was already high. I had paid a hefty sum to see her on short notice. My first question was about the euro. Will it survive? Hers was a typical Delphic answer: "It's an ill-conceived currency union and despite the latest Brussels ploy toward fixing their fiscal failures, I wouldn't put too much stock in the market's gains following its latest rescue."

The oracle's speech patterns are modern as hell, but her answer was nevertheless ambivalent. Not, however, when it came to Germany. "This is the Fourth Reich, no ifs or buts about it." What Bismarck and Hitler failed to do, Merkel has accomplished, for the moment at least. Yet there is no real fiscal union in Europe, as there is among the states in America, and that's what the bureaucrooks and technocrats of Brussels are really looking for.

I asked the high priestess what the markets are going to do. "They will stop that clown Sarkozy running around Europe building drama and calling for meetings and then emerging from them and announcing agreement to have yet another meeting very soon."

This obviously is a good thing, I said. She ignored me, as she only answers questions. So, I ventured, how long will this latest charade last? "At least until the summer"--but she did not specify which summer.

After that the priestess took a break. I sat by the ruins in brilliant sunshine and contemplated what she had told me. There is no question that the markets will ultimately have the last word, which means that if the latest band-aid does not work, we're in for a long downturn. Who would have guessed when globalization was the chic du jour that what happens to a chaotic country like Greece could cause the whole Western world to go into depression?

One thing is for sure. None of us outside the asylums are buying European equities. The latest rules impose fiscal discipline to stop a new crisis but do little to ease the current one. The imbalance between the strong north and the weak south is there and looks to stay for my lifetime.

Not, however, that of Pythia, who after yet another joint summoned me back up for more. "What's the scoop on Egypt?" "There might be civil war, there might be a military takeover, and there might be a theocracy after all," she said. "Not good enough," said I, "I need a definite answer, I've paid through the nose, your highness."

She gave me the kind of look I wouldn't give to a slob like John Podhoretz or a twisted midget like Bill Kristol. "Don't be cheeky, young man. Egypt is more complicated than those idiots who cheered the Arab Spring ever imagined. Democracy and theocracy do not together go, and half of Egypt wants the latter. Egypt will remain in chaos for a while, then some army general will step in and there will be more riots, then another Spring, then more Islamist groups, and so on. I can only give you answers, I cannot fix Egypt--it's not my job."

I apologized for mentioning money and posed my next question. What about Yemen, Bahrain, and other Gulf states? "What about them? They will remain as they are, ruled by a small band of brigands friendly to the West and will continue to violate the rights of anyone who stands in their way. Iran is too weak to help fellow Shi'ites in the Gulf, what with Israel and Uncle Sam about to bomb it to smithereens in order to make Likudists sleep better at night."

"The Congo?" "Don't make me laugh, I'm already very stoned. In all of Africa the winner of an election is not recognized by the loser because most if not all the time the election has been fraudulent. There are always two self-declared presidents who jostle for attention and then mayhem ensues. Next question."

"This is the $64,000 one, high priestess: what will happen in Russia?" She furrowed her brow and took a deep drag. "With every passing day Russians are ceasing to believe that the elections were fair, and Putin is losing support, but now is my time to ask you a question: when was the last time there was a fair election in Russia? Putin will survive, and he still has a majority and will be the next president. Where is my $64,000?"

Poorer but wiser, I left, as she seemed to have fallen asleep. I never got a chance to ask her about the American elections, which is just as well.
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Title Annotation:on the global economic crisis
Publication:The American Conservative
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Jan 1, 2012
Previous Article:Postmodern Burke.
Next Article:Madison's mistake.

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