In defence of Joe Kernen

CNBC’s Squawkbox host Kernen is just following in the footsteps of Shakespearean fools

Joe Kernan CNBC: the outsider who asks the questions the other characters dare not

Joe Kernan CNBC: the outsider who asks the questions the other characters dare not

 

Joe Kernen, the bewildered co-host of CNBC’s Squawkbox, has had a tough week. His tenuous grasp of Irish economics and geography – as revealed in an interview with the IDA chief executive Martin Shanahan – has left him open to ridicule on social media.

But if Kernen is a fool, he is arguably one in the Shakespearean tradition. Like the eponymous fool in King Lear or Touchstone in As You Like It, Kernen is the outsider who asks the questions the other characters dare not.

And as we look back on a week in which details emerged of how a sovereign member of the European Union was told what to do by the unelected mandarins of the European Central Bank, is it really so stupid to ask: “Why do you have euros in Ireland?”

Given the outpouring of indignation that has followed the not-too-surprising revelation that Ireland was bullied into accepting a bailout or have ECB funding cut off, it is eminently sensible to question the wisdom of the entire single-currency project.

The point may be moot and we may well arrive at the conclusion that, despite the humiliation of 2010, membership of the euro has been good for Ireland. But there nothing to lose by asking the question.

It is equally valid to explore Kernen’s other seemingly idiotic line of questioning: why don’t we still use sterling?

Again it is an interesting point. If we has been tied into British interest rates and closer co-operation with the Bank of England would we have had a housing bubble and banking crash of the same magnitude?

It is also a moot point, but refusing to even question our decisions leaves us playing Lear to Kernen’s Fool.

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