The FT Asks "Is This The Elites' "Marie Antoinette" Moment?"

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Wolfgang Munchau, originally posted at,

Some revolutions could have been avoided if the old guard had only refrained from provocation. There is no proof of a “let them eat cake” incident. But this is the kind of thing Marie Antoinette could have said. It rings true. The Bourbons were hard to beat as the quintessential out-of-touch establishment.

They have competition now.

Our global liberal democratic establishment is behaving in much the same way. At a time when Britain has voted to leave the EU, when Donald Trump has been elected US president, and Marine Le Pen is marching towards the Elysée Palace, we — the gatekeepers of the global liberal order — keep on doubling down.

The campaign by Tony Blair, former UK prime minister, to undo Brexit is probably the quaintest example of all. A more serious incident was the forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility in the UK, which said last week that Brexit would have severe economic consequences. Coming only a few months after the economics profession discredited itself with a doomy forecast about the consequences of Brexit, this is an astonishing reminder of the inadequacy of economic forecasting models.

The truth about the impact of Brexit is that it is uncertain, beyond the ability of any human being to forecast and almost entirely dependent on how the process will be managed. “Don’t know” is the technically correct answer. Before the referendum, Project Fear was merely a monumental tactical miscalculation. Today it is stupidity. One of the debates was whether people should be listening to experts. We have moved beyond that. Because of a tendency to exaggerate, macroeconomists are no longer considered experts on the macroeconomy.

Out-of-touch former leaders and the economic establishment are not unique. In Italy, the political establishment is considering amending recently modified electoral law solely to keep Beppe Grillo’s rebellious Five Star Movement from power. This is intertwined in a complex way with next Sunday’s referendum on constitutional reform.

The electoral law that came into force in July gives the strongest party quasi-dictatorial powers. It was a stitch-up agreed in 2014 between Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Democratic party and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. Neither man then believed the Five Star Movement would ever be in a position to shake the cosy duopoly. No matter how the referendum on constitutional reforms ends, expect to see one of the most glaring efforts of gerrymandering in modern politics. But Mr Renzi’s problem is not the Five Star Movement. It is the voters.

The EU itself, too, is doubling down whenever it can. The trade agreement with Canada, and the yet to be concluded Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, are about as popular today as the stationing of medium-range nuclear missiles in the 1980s. A popular insurrection is under way against them because people fear a reduction in consumer protection and a power grab by multinationals.

Why is this happening? Macroeconomists thought no one would dare challenge their authority. Italian politicians have been playing power games forever. And the job of EU civil servants is to find ingenious ways of spiriting politically tricky legislation and treaties past national legislatures. Even as the likes of Ms Le Pen, Mr Grillo and Geert Wilders of the far-right Dutch Freedom party head towards power, the establishment keeps acting this way. A Bourbon regent, in an uncharacteristic moment of reflection, would have backed off. Our liberal capitalist order, with its competing institutions, is constitutionally incapable of doing that. Doubling down is what it is programmed to do.

The correct course of action would be to stop insulting voters and, more importantly, to solve the problems of an out-of-control financial sector, uncontrolled flows of people and capital, and unequal income distribution. In the eurozone, political leaders found it expedient to muddle through the banking crisis and then a sovereign debt crisis — only to find Greek debt is unsustainable and the Italian banking system is in serious trouble. Eight years on, there are still investors out there betting on a collapse of the eurozone as we know it.

Mr Renzi could have used his ample political capital to reform the Italian economy instead of trying to cement his power. And imagine what would have been possible if Chancellor Angela Merkel had spent her even larger political capital on finding a solution to the eurozone’s multiple crises, or on reducing Germany’s excessive current account surpluses. If you want to fight extremism, solve the problem.

But it is not happening for the same reason it did not happen in revolutionary France. The gatekeepers of western capitalism, like the Bourbons before them, have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing.

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Infocat's picture

It is easily fixable, all you need to do is return to a healthy nationalism, stop the endless fiat money printing and start a non-interventionist foreign policy.

Pinto Currency's picture

It's not Western Capitalism.
It's Crony Rigged Markets operated by the central banks and its shareholders.

letsit's picture

The real question is, And who are they, this elusive "elite"?

stizazz's picture

Let them eat cake. We'll bring the pitchforks.

beauticelli's picture
beauticelli (not verified) stizazz Nov 28, 2016 11:30 PM

Love of money is a curse. They can never have enough.

philipat's picture

Letsit, tazs, lock-stock Lonnng, techies-r-us, stizazz, Yippee Kiyay, Mano-A-Mano et al, sorry to make you “Talk to yourself” more to avoid having my “outing” post immediately below your spam. It now takes you 4-5 minutes to post because you have to login as different users to talk to yourself and separate your spam post from my spam alert so taking advantage of ZHers who don’t know your game. Still, without a life I suppose you must have plenty of time on your hands. I have a life so am not always focused on hitting the key on my machine which automatically responds to your spam. Another poster, erkme73, was able to hack into your parents security system and get a shot of you in the basement where you live. Not a pretty site: 

Omni Consumer Product's picture

Nail this fool to the wall, philipat.

Chris Dakota's picture
Chris Dakota (not verified) Omni Consumer Product Nov 29, 2016 6:48 AM

All going to plan.

Told you guys a year ago they will be given enough rope to hang themselves, then to be relentlessly mocked in the public square, before they are destroyed.

it's happening

smrstars's picture

I agree feed them more cock, oops, my bad.

philipat's picture

SPAM ALERT: Do not open the fake links. tazs has now joined letsit as co Spammer-in- Chief after Yippee Kiyay and lonnng were banned. This serial spammer amongst others known as: mofio, santafe, Aristotle of Greece, Gargoyle, bleu, oops, lance-a-lot, Loftie, toro, Yippee Kiyay, lonnng, letsit, Mano-A-Mano, techies-r-us, beauticelli, stizazz, Nekoti, SumTing Wong, King Tut, Adullam, espirit, rp2016, Holy hand grenade of Antioch, lock-stock and tazs (some banned others still active for the purposes of talking to and congratulating himself). He seems to have more accounts than all other ZH members combined.

Dave Whiteman's picture

4 downs for telling the truth

must be the christ-insane, practicing christinsanity


sinbad2's picture

 Crony Rigged Markets operated by the central banks and its shareholders, commonly known as capitalism.

Dave Whiteman's picture

labeled incorrectly as "capitalism"


no government  in real capitalism- only individual rights, private property, and contract


this is opposite of "crony capitalism" which could be called crony fascism


we do NOT have capitalism now- it means total freedom, with no domination by special interests


capitalism is bill of rights plus radical economic freedom, all based on free will of individuals

Walter_Sobchak's picture

Sounds good until all the (((capitalists))) start importing third world subhuman to ethnically cleanse you.

Countrybunkererd's picture

stop blaming capitalism.  These banksters, "leaders", and multi-national corporations are communists at best, and more like a blend of the worst of ills humanity saw in the 1930's and 1940's rolled into one power hungry party all for themselves.

Escrava Isaura's picture

The two most propagandized words by the Left and Right media: Capitalism and Economics. And most Hedgers still don’t get either.

Capitalism means that you work for the owners of capital. You work for the bankers.

If you want your local economy be run by the locals, you need to shift it to commerce. Then, have the money issued by the state under strict regulation.

Second, capital is private and it’s doing very little at this juncture. Trump, if he wants to stimulate the economy, he needs to do it with public money, then the private money will come out of hiding.

“How many brain dead do we have to have on ZH today?” Tall Tom



Kayman's picture

Capitalism is bantied about like all buzzwords.  All great wealth today is a function of government.  The Fed is a creature of legislation.  All our corrupt elite have made their fortunes from government.  Markets are controlled. New entrants are limited from access and capital is withheld by the government-created banking cartel.

Badsamm's picture

Absolutely, It will be busy times. It needs to be orderly or it can quickly spiral out of control. Must keep the lines moving.

Dave Whiteman's picture

he's makng a list

checking it twice


gunna find out 

who's naughty or nice


santa clause is cumming


santa clause is going


to town

junction's picture

The big question: who are the organ grinder who controls these performing monkeys?  Merkel and the rest know that if they fail to exactly follow the orders from their handlers, they too can find themselves facing sudden death.  They just have to look at what became of Justice Scalia,  expecting a fine old time with rent boys and winding up the main event of a Satanist death ritual.  


You are 100% correct that it is unfixable, TradingTroll. The EU will implode, and the United States of America will implode along with it in short order once it goes. Japan will implode along with Australia and every other country in the Western World. Moreover, from what I can see the US Stock Market will implode first, and then all the connectivity that the Giant Vampire Squid constructed will disintegrate before our eyes as the now defunct ex-'superpowers' all get on their collective knees to pray to God for some sort of rescue that will most assuredly not materialize. Bottom line is that when you look at the EU & America you are really looking at stone cold dead countries that have nowhere to turn because of their collective hubris that allowed them to build unmanageable Global Ponzi schemes that were their undoing in the final analysis of contemporary Macroeconomics. Furthermore, they cannot grasp the quantum destruction that is certain to manifest after their Ponzi schemes are no longer operable.


p.s. Very astute observation, TT.

Troy Ounce's picture



The illusion of power, wealth and privilege can be tracked back completely to August 15th, 1971.


Was August 15th the day Nixon closed the gold window? And if he did not close the gold window what would have happened to the US markets?

Troy Ounce's picture



Right you are. The US needed money to finance the Vietnam War at that time and the gold standard stood in their way. What would have happened if Nixon would not have closed the gold window? The US would have lost the war earlier. The rest I do not know.

What I also know is that family & friends tell me I am a conspiracy theorist and that saddens me. "Money" is so logical to me: it is them who are the acolythes of the religion of BS promoted by MSM. The alternative is too ghastly to imagine, I guess.


Due North's picture

Critical thinking individuals are almost universally ostracized by the lemmings that prefer the company of smoke and mirrors.

Dave Whiteman's picture

very ass-toot observation


ponzi is kike money hegemon

Walter_Sobchak's picture

All could have been avoided if Hitler won.

LetThemEatRand's picture

"The gatekeepers of western capitalism, like the Bourbons before them, have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing."

Not so sure about that.  Marie Antoinette did not have drones, NSA, militarized police with billions of bullets, homeland security, CIA, MSM propaganda, FBI, Facebook, etc.  And so far Trump is aligning himself with the likes of Goldman Sachs, former CIA directors, former Red Team presidential candidates, former 9/11 cover-uppers, and so forth.  Brexit seems to be on long-term hold, subject to negotiation.  The revolution will not be televised because there won't be one.

HRH of Aquitaine's picture
HRH of Aquitaine (not verified) LetThemEatRand Nov 28, 2016 11:18 PM

The panoptican was created in France. Napoleon had an excellent embedded infrastructure and could read every single packet or letter sent. Almost. Just because the French goverment didn't have modern technology doesn't mean they were stupid. Far from it. The French have always considered spying to be an elevated art form. Nothing has changed in several hundred years other than the devices.

LetThemEatRand's picture

So you're saying that some people with pitchforks could invade the Whitehouse and haul the President out because it's not that different now?  And reading the mail of the relatively small percentage of the population that could use it AND read/write in pre-revolution France is the same as the NSA and CIA and Homeland tracking your every move in real time if they want to?  Look, there's a forest over there among those trees.

HRH of Aquitaine's picture
HRH of Aquitaine (not verified) LetThemEatRand Nov 29, 2016 1:36 AM

Your failure to fully comprehend what I posted is not my problem. When you post wild speculations that are not relevent to what I said that, too, is not my problem.

Spying is an art and it wasn't created by the NSA and Microsoft. That was my point. My point is still sound and still valid. Yours? I don't know.

Perhaps you can send me a selfie from your trek through the forest!

uncle_disgusting's picture

So what you're saying is, it's different this time?

Mustafa Kemal's picture

" The French have always considered spying to be an elevated art form."

Along with pickpockets

fbazzrea's picture

this whole idea of spys, intelligence operatives, Big Brother, et al, watching over all of us, protecting us from evil, is a facade, nothing more than manifestation of our government's ability to legally soothe TPTB's guilt-driven paranoia from their complete and utter treasonous robbery via the biggest Ponzi scheme in the history of the world--bar none: the global central banking system, i.e., IMF, FED, ECB, PBOC, etc. with their debt-based fiat monetary system.

i want a government that is a benevolent service-oriented public entity. the American people will defend ourselves from attack, thus our government. we don't need a military to attack other nations. we just need a standing army in case anyone gets past us, the citizens, by invading our soil, if they dare. we don't need Big Brother reading our emails, listening to our phone conversations, tracking our browsers to "keep us safe." these are actions of a paranoid elite fearful of reprisal.

i don't know about you, but i'm fed up with this intrusion in our lives in the name of "security." i'm big enough to take care of myself. i don't need my federal government looking out for me like i was 12 years old. and you don't need to spend your taxdollars paying someone to do it. we're going to have to start making some tough choices in the near future. are we going to cut our bloated military, intelligence agencies, dark funds, etc., or social security and medicare? cuts gotta come somewhere. i'd rather chop NSA budgets than my mother's social security. never mind my own. i'll probably never get any of my "entitlement" that i paid in for 40 years.

sorry for the rant... got away from me. lol

Troy Ounce's picture


Merica is finished if Trump does an Obama

wisehiney's picture

The only difference is that this time half the country has to go with her.

MonkeyKnutz's picture


Disgusting display of hubris. If they could only have the plebeians kiss the ring a little longer...

navy62802's picture

This whole charade would be ended if the FBI and/or NYPD leaked the evidence they have against the Clinton Syndicate. It would be lights out for the entrenched power. It would also mean quite a bit of political turmoil in the US, but the country has survived it before. The bottom line is we need to clean out the rot. A patriotic leaker could end all of this, once and for all.

Dave Whiteman's picture

The bottom line is we need to clean out the rot


the rot is due to government being involved in the economy

fbazzrea's picture

the rot is due to government being involved in the economy

the rot is due to government being involved in EVERYTHING

tuetenueggel's picture

NYPD is prepearing something.

Just wait a few days-

Sid Davis's picture

Roll out Madame Guillotine.

euphoria's picture

learnt nothing and forgotten everything*

onmail1's picture

The property , assets, bank a/c of moneylords
especially zooish must be seized/nationalized
in order to make the state rich
or suffer economic doom

onmail1's picture

Look India is doing it
and they have 'earned' trillions of local currency
which will be used for education, health & housing for poor

lasvegaspersona's picture

The crisis is still economic at this point. Hyperinflation is easy if you see it coming. Prepare.