Can the developed world afford high standards of living? Will sovereign debt worries become a full-fledged banking crisis? Is it better to store money under your mattress these days? That kind of stuff.
So the other day at the gym, when I heard a Britney Spears song blaring from the speakers, it hit me she could be talking about the economy. About debt, in particular.
"I'm addicted to you, don't you know that you're toxic?"
Ah, like toxic loans? Why, that makes perfect sense. The more I heard Toxic, the more I was convinced.
"Baby, can’t you see, I’m calling
A guy* like you (*loan)
Should wear a warning
It’s dangerous, I’m fallin’"
She goes on, further cementing my theory that Britney Spears is actually a visionary, an economist par excellence.
"There’s no escape, I can’t wait
I need a hit, baby, give me it
You’re dangerous, I’m lovin’ it"
How about that? Were these the thoughts of reckless governments, banks, corporations and traders as they indulged in endless borrowing and risky making-money-from-money practices? Was this how unsustainable debt was created?
I soon realized it wasn't just the one song. Britney sang several debt warnings. But it was too late. By then, most were already a Slave for you, debt. That's right...
"What’s practical is logical. what the hell, who cares?
All I know is I’m so happy when you’re *dancing there (*accumulating).
I’m a slave for you. I cannot hold it, I cannot control it."
Borrowed funds were soon exhausted. When national coffers nearly emptied and their usual creditors no longer obliged, Greece turned to Brussels saying Hit me baby, one more time...
"Oh baby baby, how was I supposed to know
That something wasn't right here.
Show me how you want it to be (*EU cues introduction of austerity measures)
Tell me baby cause I need to know now oh because..."
But alas, less than a year later, Greece needed yet another bailout. Britney had a song for this occasion too.
Oops, I did it again. Got lost in the game.
Now, it's crunch time. The European Union debates how to keep the eurozone intact, while protests are rife on the streets of Greece. Its people are suffering.
But the voters of Europe's richest nations are likely to tell you - just like the lyrics of Britney's song - that they're not that innocent.