Where might finance ministers find economic inspiration? The works of John Maynard Keynes, perhaps? Paul Krugman or Nouriel Roubini? Not Australia’s treasurer Wayne Swan.
The man named Finance Minister of the Year in 2011 by Euromoney magazine turns instead to the Boss.
Swan has named Bruce Springsteen as one of his economic heroes.
“You can hear Springsteen singing about the shifting foundations of the US economy which the economists took much longer to detect, and which of course everyone is talking about now,” Swan said in a lecture to members of the ruling labour party.
Swan, 58, said he was a student when he first became a fan of the New Jersey musician, following the release of Born to Run. The lyrics of the song Badlands from Springsteen’s 1978 album Darkness on the Edge of Town, could be a warning against the growing political influence of Australian mining billionaires such as Gina Rinehart, who is Australia’s richest person, Clive Palmer and Andrew Forrest.
He quoted the lyrics “Poor man wanna be rich/ Rich man wanna be king/ And a king ain’t satisfied/ ‘Til he rules everything”, then launched into something of Springsteen discography to prove his point about Springsteen’s economic nous.
There was the River (1980): “I got a job working construction, for the Johnstown Company/ But lately there ain’t been much work, on account of the economy” and My Hometown (1984): “They’re closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks/ Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back”.
Swan seemed less up to speed, however, on Springsteen’s most recent work, Wrecking Ball. How about this insight, from Jack Of All Trades: “The banker man grows fat, working man grows thin/ It’s all happened before and it’ll happen again” or, from the track Easy Money: “When your whole world comes tumbling down/And all them fat cats they just think it’s funny”.
There was a grim warning from Swan, too: “Don’t let Australia become a Down Under version of New Jersey.”
Conservative opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey, however, is clearly not a fan of the sage of Asbury Park. Swan’s speech, he said, was “ridiculous”.
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
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