A Modest Macroeconomic Proposal

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Published by Matthew Davidson on Mon, 17/06/2013 - 8:57pm

No country likes to have a trade deficit. In fact every country would like to have a trade surplus. The problem is you can't have even one country in surplus without one or more other countries being in deficit to the value of that surplus. The answer?

Colonise Mars!

Every country on Earth could sell stuff to Mars, and provided we don't make the mistake of buying anything off the Martians in return, every country on Earth could be running a trade surplus. Obviously it can't be trade in tangible items because of the prohibitive shipping cost, so it would be mostly copyright and patent licences, permission to show various registered trademarks in motion pictures, et cetera.

Now one presumptive flaw in this plan presents itself: If the Martians aren't selling anything, how can they afford to buy anything? Answer: We lend them the money! So now every country on Earth is also in monetary surplus!

Don't we then have to get that money back eventually? Good question. You would think so, wouldn't you? Unfortunately those unproductive, profligate Martians (I blame the climate; it makes one sluggish) have blundered into a credit crisis. What fools we were to have ever trusted them with our money! Clearly they have been frittering it away on wasteful social programs, public holidays, excessively long toilet breaks, and so on, while every nation on Earth has been making the tough choices that sound economics demands.

The only solution to this is to impose conditions on the Martians that will make it possible for them, in time, to repay the debt: slash social spending, smaller workforces, longer hours, timed locks on lavatory doors… These are the sorts of measures necessary to restore confidence in the Martian economy, and convince investors on Earth to lend them more money, so we can keep this racket going.

Hold on, I hear you cry, won't this impose terrible suffering on blameless human beings, for no reason other than the perpetuation of a wholly misguided and irrational accounting fraud?

Obviously under the conditions of this plan we can't send any actual human beings to Mars. The Martians would only exist on paper. What kind of sadist do you take me for?