Much of the commentary on the recent episodes of [C] is that it could be considered a criticism of deficit spending by governments. Scamp ultimately came to this conclusion, however I see it differently. Much of the action in [C] has been defined by complete inaction by governments and international agencies like the IMF. Essentially I see the events of the series as showing the powerlessness of governments in the age of a globalism controlled by private investors.
Back in 1997, several nations in Southeast Asia were coming to the end of a period of startling economic growth. The end came rather quickly in what would come to be known as the Asian Financial Crisis. A decision made by Thailand to float their currency even when they were effectively bankrupt caused foreign investors to flee the region entirely into safer investments. Currency values plummeted in the region leading to bailouts by the IMF, stock market and housing bubbles in America and for Japan, more competition in manufacturing from countries with devalued currency.
So what happened in episode 9? Currency loses all value in Southeast Asia, and it has a knock on effect on other countries in the region. [C] chose to portray this as a loss of population and confidence of those affected, as opposed to things like revolution and active destruction of property.
The role Mikuni plays in all of this is rather interesting. Using Midas Money, he essentially becomes the foreign investor buying up Japanese treasuries for what seems like the noble purpose of keeping Japan afloat or in episode 9 injecting money into stocks to prevent a crash. However, that came at a cost as he had to pull all of that money out of the Japanese economy with devastating consequences.
By the end of the episode, I was with two conclusions as far as what the series is really trying to criticize. The first is the absolutely glacial pace with which governments move on economic issues, but more importantly is the idea that systemically important institutions are allowed to become time bombs capable of destroying millions of lives with money that ultimately have to be bailed out by those who had nothing to do with it. Mikuni failed to realize that he had become too powerful. His own attempt at bailing out Japan had in fact done seemingly irreparable damage.
Which leads back to what could have actually been done by Mikuni after his bailout attempt in episode 9. He could have chosen to pay the money back, or not paid it back. This very much plays out like a couple of decisions made during the recent financial crisis in Europe. Ireland chose to bailout their banks, Iceland chose to do so only for their own citizens. By taking the Ireland route, Mikuni may have turned Japan into an island with a shrinking population and economy as well as being unable to turn things around because they have no money left.
Now onto some other issues I have with the series. The first has to do with disappearing landmasses. We’ve heard of one country in the Caribbean disappearing entirely, while the ninth episode saw Singapore vanish into the ether. Having masses of land disappear seems to me rather impossible with simply money, but wouldn’t making Singapore part of Malaysia or Indonesia have the same impact as just wiping out the island. I suppose it is rather silly complaining about realism in a series like this.
Another thing was alluded to late in the last episode, the decline of the birthrate into the single digits per week nationally. Satou pointed out that GDP was at early-80s levels, which effectively meant that Mikuni had chosen to inflict 30 years of economic stagnation on the country. Little wonder at that point that social services would collapse and the birthrate would plummet. There would be many versions of the new Hanabi who had never seen prosperity in their lifetimes. That emigration wasn’t talked about probably says a lot about just how far the situation had fallen.
Conclusions: I tend to think that much of the discussion on [C] has been dominated by snap judgements based on one’s political leanings. I believe that comes out of this is that governments don’t have as much power as they would like. It could be argued that by not doing anything when they had the chance, they made themselves too weak to act when they should have. There’s now 2 episodes remaining, which I am now expecting to be rather rushed and possibly concluding with 1 man, or country remaining extraordinarily rich, surrounded entirely by ocean.