Daniel W. Drezner

Letter from Estoril

Your humble blogger has not been contributing to the Osama-a-thon here at FP blogging all that much, because he was busy being a moosehead attending the 2011 Estoril Conference.  Many Important topics were covered at this conference, including:  1)  The eurozone crisis; 2)  The global governance crisis; 3)  The crisis in the Middle East; 4)  ...

Your humble blogger has not been contributing to the Osama-a-thon here at FP blogging all that much, because he was busy being a moosehead attending the 2011 Estoril Conference.  Many Important topics were covered at this conference, including: 

1)  The eurozone crisis;

2)  The global governance crisis;

3)  The crisis in the Middle East;

4)  Other global security challenges;

5)  The life and times of Larry King

It was that kind of conclave. 

Actually, that really doesn’t do it justice.  Here’s a link to the opening video.  Even that doesn’t do it justice — the opening ceremonies featured a sporano suspended 50 feet in the air, a gospel choir, a drum corps, and what I can only assume are the backup dancers for Lady Gaga’s music videos. 

For a rundown of what the Big Cheeses said at the conference, check out my Twitter feed.  The major substantive takeaway I got from the conference is that Portugal would like to do a serious hurt dance on Fitch, Moody’s, and Standard & Poor.  Half of the conference presenters were Portuguese, and most of the audience was as well.  Here is a sampling of the questions the Portuguese asked anyone talking about anything remotely related to economics: 

"Why do the bond rating agencies still influence markets after they failed so badly in 2008?"

"Shouldn’t the bond-rating agencies be punished for their malfeasance last decade?"

"Aren’t the bond-rating agencies to blame for everything bad that has happened since 2008?"

"What do you think of the idea of creating a European standard-ratings agency?"

"Say, has anyone thought about taking the heads of the bond-rating agencies and putting them in a duffel bag?" 

OK, I made that last one up, but not the others. 

Obviously, the Portuguese have very good reasons to be stressed out.  And the bond-rating agencies deserrve an awful amount of flack.  Still, the idea that they — and they alone — triggered both the 2008 financial crisis and Europe’s sovereign debt crisis is absurd.  They are far more the symptom than the cause of the crisis. 

More blogging after my eyes adjust to not seeing Lady Gaga’s backup dancers everywhere I turn the weekend. 

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and the author of Theories of International Politics and Zombies. His latest book is The Toddler in Chief. Twitter: @dandrezner

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