Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Greenspan "lost in translation"

Reuters reported:

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told France's Finance Minister Thierry Breton the United States has "lost control" of its budget deficit, the French minister said on Saturday.

"'We have lost control,' that was his expression," Breton told reporters after a bilateral meeting with Greenspan.
"The United States has lost control of their budget at a time when racking up deficits has been authorized without any control (from Congress)," Breton said.

"We were both disappointed that the management of debt is not a political priority today," he added.

While the Federal Reserve refused to comment on M Breton’s reports of its Chairman’s views, A senior US official suggested the French minister must have misunderstood Mr Greenspan’s remarks. “Things can get lost in translation,” the official said.

I wonder if the 'senior US official' means that Greenspan was speaking poor French. Or was Greenspan speaking English and Breton had trouble understanding? Or was a 'Michael Brown' of a translator employed to translate? If the phrase "we have lost control" can be so poorly translated, should we be worried other problems in communication during these bilateral meetings?

Meanwhile, the US Treasury also rejected any suggestion that the deficit was out of control. “This administration is absolutely committed to the President’s goal of halving the deficit as a percentage of GDP by 2009 and we have every expectation of meeting that goal,” a spokesman said.

So 'in control' means spending a surplus, running up historic deficits, and then expecting to leave only half that debt for another administration (and generation of taxpayers).


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