David Boyle: Off to see the euro wizard?
From the alternative Mansion House Speech given by the economist at a meeting in Fleet Street, London
Wednesday 26 June 2002
I want to talk about the euro, but most of all about the Yellow Brick Road, the one that Dorothy walked along with the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow.
The Wizard of Oz was a coded diatribe against the gold standard. Oz is, of course, the way we designate weight in gold. You may remember that Dorothy sets out on the Yellow Brick Road wearing the Witch of the East's magic silver shoes – changed to red in the Judy Garland film. And we all know that the Wonderful Wizard, the personification of the gold standard, is revealed as a fraud, hiding behind a curtain, desperately twiddling with levers.
Keynes called gold a "barbarous relic", but we are as much in thrall to the gold mind-set as ever. Now, the euro isn't the gold standard, but it sometimes sounds like it. It's about stability of value, strong money. It makes the same mistake as the Wizard of Oz – it believes in objective values, and these values can be reflected everywhere the currency circulates.
I am not a Europhobe, but there is a fundamental problem at the heart of the euro. The problem is that big single currencies , the pound, the dollar or the euro, are gold-standard thinking. They condemn us to walk around, like the people in the Emerald City, wearing tinted glasses which can only recognise what the City and Wall Street says is important. If you only measure GDP, then the environment, human dignity, community, family all in the end get driven out. That's what faulty measuring rods do, and currencies are measuring rods.
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