Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Will Tom Friedman's Greek Bet Pay Out?

The NYT's Thomas Friedman is out with another one of his bold predictions, this time about the chances for Greece to experience something of a renaissance:
Can Greece have a civic revolution? The odds are long, but you won’t need to consult the I.M.F. to determine the answer. Just watch Greek young people. In six months, if you see them migrating, then short Greece. If you see them sticking it out here, though, it means they think there is something worth staying for, and you might even want to buy a Greek bond or two.
Hopefully for Tom there are still Greek (euro-)bonds for sale in six months.

There's something a little odd about the way Tom Friedman's mind works; it seems he's never seen a sequential six-month period that wasn't in some way crucial.

He also seems to have trouble finding a way to distance himself enough to be critical of the policies and claims of any of his many head-of-state-cum-lunch-partners. Then again, it's likely hard to resist a man's "Obama-Zen-like calm" while sharing the latest ideas in central-planning schemes "over a lunch of Greek salad and grilled fish", all under the protective and watchful eye of a couple of burly, gun-toting, taxpayer-financed personal bodyguards (you better believe Papandreou has a couple or three or four of those around with him at all times, these days).

What is truly comical about Friedman's ridiculously predictable six month-long bets (besides the fact that he'll definitely downplay any outcome unfavorable to his prediction once the six months are up) is what Friedman ignores in making his assertion. What Friedman remains ignorant of is what may or may not have been happening in terms of Greek youth and their emigration patterns in the past six months or more. What if all the smart Greek youth have already left the country, long before this current conflagration rose to wildfire status?

Now, if only someone could dig up statistics on US citizen expatriation patterns recently, it'd be quite interesting to see if Friedman would give the US one of his trademarked 6-month prognoses...


  1. Oh snap! You just crushed Friedman - about time someone took him to task, well done.

    Do you think the smart youth in america are leaving? Where do you guess they are going?

  2. Tom,

    My guess is that, especially thanks to the current economic environment, more and more of America's young people will be and are considering opportunities outside of the country. I believe that the generation of people from the 70s, 80s and 90s will be characterized later as something of an American Diaspora. Just as an anecdote, I have a friend who will be heading off to the Congo to work for a Belgian bank this summer-- this is a guy who speaks no French and really revels in "being an American," and yet here he is, feeling like this is his last, best hope for finding a job.

    Africa. Just think about that.