Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Very Boring Post

I tweeted this morning that this Governor's Today Programme lecture from 2nd May 2012 had only received 171 views on Youtube. At the time of writing it had managed to scrape to 208.

These are incredibly low viewing figures. The speech was broadcast (and I presume trailered on BBC Radio 4) and elements of the speech were given front page billing in this morning's Times, Independent, and Telegraph. It was even being discussed when I turned on The Wright Stuff to watch with my tea & frosties.

So, these low viewing figures are really staggering. Amazingly low.

I listened to it late last night when I saw a tweet from Robert Peston appear in my stream. It had around 70 views by that time. I can't say I was riveted by it. In fact, it was the epitome of dull. A grey man stating the bleeding obvious. The word I'd use to describe Mr King's performance is 'measured'. Just what you want from a Bank's governor.

But the speech being boring doesn't really explain why so few people have listened to it. What Mervyn King has to say about the greatest financial crises in living memory is important, surely? Not just to financial journalists, but to all of us.

The fact is, whilst it may be important, it's not interesting to us. What really is interesting, is WHY no-one is interested.

Something significant is being said here about our relationship to money and authority. Mervyn King - quite deliberately - has no hook. Nothing baits us or tugs at our heart strings. We seem to have no emotional connection to what is being said. The tone of the Governor has a soporific effect. But I don't think this is some kind of conspiracy by clever bankers to lull us into complacency. I think we are just as culpable as they are. We all want things to be like this. It stops the fear. It prevents the panic.

The nexus of authority and money that the Bank of England represents seems immune from emotional connection. It is - in a very real sense - apolitical. This all seems significant in trying to understand money.

So - to answer my own question - Why is no-one interested? Because we don't want to be, and they don't want us to be.

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