I’ve known my friend Harold since high school and over the years both of us have given a lot of thought to the problems of the Northern Ontario economy while watching much of its traditional economic base in resource extraction and processing slowly disappear. Harold has spent a good many years in the economic development field and recently shared with me some partly tongue in cheek thoughts that what most depressed rural remote economic areas need is a good Bond Villain to pick things up.
Why? Think of some of the most spectacular Bond Villains such as Dr. No and his underground base or Drax and his rocket base in the jungle. What rurally depressed economic region could say no to having their community’s economy picked up by the fiscal stimulus of a Bond Villain base? The typical Bond Villain base is highly capital and labour intensive with massive material resource requirements. A Bond Villain provides direct employment for thousands of minions and their dependents and their multiplier effect via their expenditure on goods and services can potentially be quite large. Moreover, much of the activity is higher end knowledge based economic activity involving research and scientists with important spillover effects. Indeed, having a knowledge-intensive Bond Villain Base in your community is like having the economic benefits of a university without all those pesky independently minded academics mucking around. Ultimately, the fiscal injections into the local economy can be so massive that your economic base will effectively be shaken rather than simply stirred.
Of course, what might work on a small regional scale might be also successful on a larger stage. One of the major roadblocks to resolving the European debt crisis is the lack of economic growth. Imagine what the benefits of a half dozen Bond villains sprinkled though out Spain, Italy and Greece might be? The fiscal stimulus provided could jump start their economies while at the same time avoiding the obligations or requirements of having to deal with the restrictions of the IMF or the European Central Bank. However, Greece at the moment probably perceives the IMF as its own personal Dr. No.
Of course, Bond Villains have the unfortunate tendency to also want to destroy the planet or the human race or engage in other similarly destructive behavior, which in the long term would tend to make the intended effects of fiscal stimulus pointless. Indeed, this tendency has been explored in a recent publication titled License to Fail: The Business Mistakes of Bond Villains by Kevin Patrick Leech which makes the case that: “IF YOU SUCCEED IN DESTROYING THE WORLD, WHO WILL BE YOUR CUSTOMERS? In the 22 James Bond movies, the villains are often successful entrepreneurs with dominant market positions. "License To Fail" finally takes these entrepreneurs to task, proving that the downfall of each is not due to the intervention of James Bond, but is actually the consequence of bad business decisions.”I suspect that Leech's view of James Bond's effectiveness may also mean he is not a believer in activist fiscal and monetary policy.
So, Bond Villains can be the source of successful long term fiscal stimulus provided they are allowed to work at destroying the world but without ever being allowed to actually destroy the world. This is of course always the case in the Bond World as the villains are always ultimately foiled. I suppose a successful Bond Villain long-term economic stimulus program should be akin to perpetual printing of money but without any inflationary consequences or infinite spending without fear of either deficits or crowding out. Such an outcome is presently only achievable in a fictional world.