Monday, May 21, 2012

Soundtrack to the Global Financial Crisis

And now for something a little different :)

A recent comment from obakesan got me thinking... if I could pick a song per year for the last several to form a soundtrack (backdrop to the major events in each year), what would they be? I came up with the below:

2006: Lilly Allen - The Fear

The US housing market was already seeing volumes drop in early 2006, however the peak national price was achieved in mid 2006. Consumers were spending their new found wealth by drawing equity out of their homes and putting everything on plastic. This level of spending was not sustainable, although few realised it at the time.

Lilly Allen catches some of that consumerist attitude in her song "The Fear":
Life's about film stars and less about mothers
It's all about fast cars and cussing each other
But it doesn't matter cause I'm packing plastic
And that's what makes my life so fucking fantastic
And I am a weapon of massive consumption
And its not my fault it's how I'm programmed to function
I'll look at the sun and I'll look in the mirror
I'm on the right track, yeah we're on to a winner

2007: Freestylers feat. Belle Humble - Cracks

In 2007 the cracks really started to show in the US subprime market. Ben Bernanke famously said in March 2007: "At this juncture, however, the impact on the broader economy and financial markets of the problems in the subprime market seems likely to be contained". How wrong he was.

The lyrics from this Freestylers song "Cracks" could almost be a reference to the subprime borrowers, forced to leave their past behind, handing back the keys to the house they couldn't afford and just walking away (following which we saw cracks appear in subprime and the western debt bubble).
Leave the past behind
Just walk away
When it's over
And my heart breaks
And the cracks begin to show

2008: Basement Jaxx - Red Alert

We saw the financial crisis reach it's darkest moments in late 2008 as some of the largest US banks were allowed to fail, while others were gobbled up by larger competitors. The markets started to crash and we may never know just how close we came to a complete financial system meltdown.

The simple lyrics in this track "Red Alert" by Basement Jaxx perhaps sum up the fear seen in the markets at this time:
Red alert! Red alert!
It's a catastrophe
Don't worry.....Don't panic
Ain't nothin' goin' on but history, yeah
But it's alright, don't panic

2009: Hayek vs. Keynes - Fear the Boom and Bust

This song could be considered a bit of a cheat entry, given that it's worded specifically around some of the actions taken by central banks over late 2008 and 2009 to combat the financial crisis, dropping their rates, increasing their spending/stimulus... it's all here in this tune.

Here are some lyrics from the rap:
You see it’s all about spending, hear the register cha-ching
Circular flow, the dough is everything
So if that flow is getting low, doesn’t matter the reason
We need more government spending, now it’s stimulus season

2010: Muse - Uprising

Riots in Tunisia started during December 2010 and were in part fueled by high food inflation, many would argue this was a direct result of Fed stimulus (but this was denied by Bernanke). The revolution spread to Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and elsewhere over 2011 and became known as "Arab Spring".

The Muse song "Uprising" works well with this video of Egyptians at a battle over the Nile:
Rise up and take the power back, it's time that
The fat cats had a heart attack, you know that
Their time is coming to an end, we have to
Unify and watch our flag ascend, so come on
They will not force us
They will stop degrading us
They will not control us
We will be victorious, so come on

2011: Spandau Ballet - Gold

2011 was an exciting year for Gold and Silver. Silver seeing it's peak early in the year, putting in a top around the same level as the January 1980 peak (US$50).

Later in the year Gold had a strong rally and peaked over US$1900. There's probably a better song to capture the metals performance in 2011, but for now "Gold" from Spandau Ballet will have to do:
Gold (gold)
Always believe in your soul
You've got the power to know
You're indestructible
Always believe in, that you are
Gold (gold)
Glad that you're bound to return
There's something I could have learned
You're indestructible, always believe in...

2012: Open to suggestions?

We're not even half way into what has already been a turbulent year for the markets. The debt crisis in the Eurozone is already underrepresented in the above themes, perhaps something from Rage Against the Machine "Killing in the name" or "Township Rebellion" in reference to the rebellion against austerity measures? I'm open to any ideas...

Perhaps you have your own version of a soundtrack to the GFC, if so feel free to share!

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