Crow here.. incognito. You wouldn't necessarily think there are any advantages to being a crow but it certainly is an asset to my role as an international investigator of economic shenanigans. For one thing, my spies and pinioned minions can go anywhere with ease - no expensive airplane flights, no hotel fees and no getting ripped off by local guides. We're on the air as it were. Even better, who is going to pay attention to my brothers in the branches of trees overlooking fancy outdoor restaurants and garden parties? You would be unlikely to get near Bretton Woods but we have nested there for time out of mind. The only carbon footprint we leave is the one you might find on your jacket if you're unlucky enough to stroll beneath our boughs at an inopportune moment.
I've learned about a place you'd never guess would have a better national economic plan than the one you currently labor under but just so you don't get too depressed let me introduce you to Bhutan where they have what you might refer to as an 'enlightened' financial policy:
Instead of Gross National Product or GNP, what the Bhutanese have is called Gross National Happiness or GNH. Really.
To be brief the country has 40 Buddhist lamas who are 'calculators". For 1500 years they've used a book of mathematical and astronomical formulae. After meditating on the questions people bring to them they devise investment plans.
* "We call the economic model Gross National Happiness and, after 30 years of applying this ancient principle, we've discovered it's more important than Gross Domestic Product,'' says the prime minister whose name means thunderbolt in Dzongkha, the national language.
"GNH is a method of balancing sustainable growth against the often damaging results of rampant wealth,'' Dorji adds. "Keeping that balance is the most difficult challenge facing any global leader.'' *
Now hold on to your feathers while I mention a couple of things. Their stock market bell rings only on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 11:00am and when the four stockbrokers are done the market closes. They only harvest 2000 megawatts of their potential 10,000 megawatts of hydroelectric power since conservation is more important than the profit to be made selling electricity to India and China. The country has only one ATM for all 700,000 people and they don't need more. Their per capita income is much higher than that in nearby nations and their schools, hospitals and public services are growing.
The chief executive officer of the bank of Bhutan says, "I have no doubts that Western banks consider us to be primitives,'' Tshering laughs. "By their standards, a profit mandate is more important than a social mandate. Subprime occurred simply because lenders packaged irresponsibility and sold it off to the highest bidder.''
Just a little reminder that things having to do with money don't necessarily have to bad. Now I'd better get the head under the wing so I'll be sharp for further investigating.