Friday, 19 December 2008
"Hang on a minute, lads. I've got a great idea"
So says Michael Caine at the end of the Italian Job, as the crooks balance precariously in a coach with its back end - the end with the gold in - perched half way off an Alp. One wrong move and the gold slips out of the door and down the mountain - but trying to pull it back towards the criminals means approaching the gold and tipping the whole coach off the mountain.
Why does this quote remind me of that scene?
"We know that by pulling out money, we’re not serving anyone’s good. Including ourselves." Gao Xiqing, president of the China Investment Corporation. This is the famous modern “balance of financial terror.” If Chinese officials started pulling assets out of the U.S. and touched off a run on the dollar, their vast remaining dollar holdings would plummet in value, losing the savings of the Chinese as well as ruining the American economy. In other words - the whole coach tips off the cliff.
But there's more: Caine says the film ended the way it did because there was going to be a sequel:
"In the coach I crawl up, switch on the engine, stay there for four hours until all the petrol runs out. The van bounces back up so we can all get out, but then the gold goes over. There are a load of Corsican Mafia at the bottom watching the whole thing with binoculars. They grab the gold, and then the sequel is us chasing it."
Yeah, I can see America doing quite a lot of 'chasing' after all this, even if they get out of their coach alive - that is, get away with a bad recession rather than a full blown repeat of the 1930s. But who, exactly, will they be chasing?