Taylor Swift and the Eurozone Crisis

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Dec. 17 2012 2:11 PM

Taylor Swift and the Eurozone Crisis

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Taylor Swift performs at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 7, 2012, in New York City

Photo by Kevin Kane/Getty Images for Jingle Ball 2012.

Mario Draghi and Taylor Swift are two of Business Insider's most impressive people of 2012, but few recognize that there are important linkages between them that go beyond the fact that Joe Weisenthal wrote the blurbs. Consider, for example, "I Knew You Were Trouble" off her latest album:

Superficially, this is a song about a dating experience. Indeed, Swift herself says it's based on a past relationship of hers. But if you peer beyond the obvious, you'll see it's not a coincidence that she shares songwriting credits with two Swedes—Max Martin and Shellback—who are clearly bragging about their country's wise decision to stay out of the project of the European monetary union. Precisely because Sweden knew that the Maastricht Treaty was trouble when it walked in, Sweden was able to respond to the 2008 financial crisis with currency devaluation and avoid a sharp rise in unemployment. Swift's other collaborations with Martin and Shellback continue the theme of Sweden's splendid monetary isolation, with the singer proudly proclaiming "We're happy free confused and lonely at the same time" on "22"—exulting in the idea that it "It feels like one of those nights/ We ditch the whole scene." The three-part series ends, of course, with "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" expressing the obvious point that while much of the Swedish elite bemoaned the country's unwillingness to join the euro at the beginning, that side of the argument has been decisively debunked.

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But Swift possesses a broader perspective than that of her Swedish collaborators. Writing alone, she offers us "Stay, Stay, Stay"—a recognition that though entering the monetary union may have been a mistake, attempting to rupture it might be even more destructive. "Wind in my hair, you were there, you remember it all" she sings on "All Too Well," in a poignant reminder of Europe's unfortunate 20th-century history. In her own voice the ultimate verdict on the euro is that it's "Sad Beautiful Tragic"—one of the noblest political experiments ever undertaken by mankind, an effort to genuinely transcend nationalism and conflict undermined by technical design flaws.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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