How are European officials orchestrating the bank stress tests like Pacific islanders speaking into coconuts and waiting for cargo to drop from the skies?
They both make the elemental error at the heart of all cargo cults; they mistake necessity for sufficiency and hope that imitation and affect will make up for a lack of substance.
Most often associated with the south Pacific after World War II, cargo cults are religions whose practitioners try to use magic to produce the results of more powerful technologically sophisticated cultures.
In the Pacific that meant making clearings in the jungle to serve as runways and donning coconut earphones and microphones with vines for wires, all in hopes that the cargo that came with American or Japanese occupation would somehow return.
In Europe it means running a bank stress test that officials hope will, like the one in the U.S. in 2009, restore confidence in its banks.