Some say it is Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations.
Others say John Maynard Keynes’
Theory or Marshall’s Principles.
However, for us the best book on economics ever written is Goscinny and Uderzo’s Obelix and Co.
Purists might object that it is a comic – or “graphic novel”
as they say now – but anyone who studied this most perceptive of the Asterix
books carefully would have predicted the 2008 credit crunch.
Consider the plot and draw your own parallels...
Julius Caesar seeks to conquer his enemies, the indomitable Gauls,
by flooding their village with cheap money. He achieves this by purchasing their
menhirs – lumps of stone with no discernible purpose – for ever increasing amounts
The Gaulish village is soon dominated by the fast-growing
menhir industry – and is superficially very prosperous.
However, Caesar is left with a huge stock of essentially
useless menhirs. Their very uselessness makes them fashionable for a moment,
but, like all fashions, this passes very quickly. Soon the price of menhirs
falls dramatically. The currency is devalued, and so the prosperity of the
Gauls is revealed as an illusion.
This is how the inflated value of the world economy led to a
wholly predictable crash in 2008 – and incidentally why stimulus packages are
doomed to end in disaster.
Is General Motors the new menhir?