In Artsy Amsterdam, Time to Think About the Bottom Line

Thinker Ewald Engelen Is Showing Creative Types That Economic Health Isn't All About Creativity

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Chidi Onwuka Chidi Onwuka
Right up until a couple of weeks ago, as the whole world and dog plus cat and mouse panicked about the money situation or stuck its collective head in the sand and then panicked about the money situation, here in oh-so-cool Amsterdam reigned something of a "What, me worry?" attitude. Well, things have changed.

Not panic, mind you, but rather the acceptance that we're all connected and we're all in this thing together. This, in turn, has led to a number of discussions about how much Amsterdam is going to be affected by the coming economic vortex and what should or can be done about it. There is a sense that the current situation creates an opportunity for a rethink of local economic policy.

One of the more interesting voices rising out of these is that of Ewald Engelen of the Financial Research Centre at the University of Amsterdam.

It's not so much that he offers a panacea for present ills but that he is coming up with suggestions that one month ago would have been dismissed as radical and stupid. He is for hedge funds and private equity firms, and he points out that artists and creatives, while nice to have at one's dinner party, do not create jobs. He asks, what's wrong with unequal income distribution?

He was recently quoted as saying, "We all like artists, the most spoiled group in society. However, there are few jobs in that. A headquarters has an impact -- you will need cleaners, people who process paper, catering services."

His bottom line is this: Never forget that No money = No action. Nice thought.

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