Bad Bumblebee Metaphors and Greece



Three years ago, I posted about “Bad Insect Metaphors”. The President of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi made this much quoted simile:

“The euro is like a bumblebee. This is a mystery of nature because it shouldn’t fly but instead it does. So the euro was a bumblebee that flew very well for several years. And now – and I think people ask “how come?” – probably there was something in the atmosphere, in the air, that made the bumblebee fly. Now something must have changed in the air, and we know what after the financial crisis. The bumblebee would have to graduate to a real bee. And that’s what it’s doing.”

Neither the austerity policy promoted by the ECB nor the simile have withstood the test of time. Austerity has not transformed the “Euro Bumblebee” into a “Real Bee”. Bumblebees fly quite well and their flight mechanics are well understood. Flight for the Bumblebee requires the wings to beat, unlike the airplane whose wings are fixed. The Bumblebee must be supplied with a source of energy to power its flight. Similarly, economies must continually receive a source of energy to function. Starve an economy of currency and it will crash, not undergo a vibrant transformation. Starve a bumblebee of sugar and it too will crash; it will never transform into a honey bee. Economist Paul Krugman wrote about the “Crash of the Bumblebee“, perhaps a more apt metaphor for Greece.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in by jjneal, Literature, News, Policy. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Bad Bumblebee Metaphors and Greece

  1. I figured the eurozone was being run by a bunch of idiots but that just takes the biscuit!! He seems to imply that a bumblebee is somehow further down the evolutionary trail to a honey bee? I’m not sure that the euro ever actually developed the wings to truly fly before it was launched!

  2. Pingback: Bad Bumblebee Metaphors and Greece | Entomo Planet

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