Happy countries may not exactly be alike, but unhappy countries are often unhappy in similar ways. What they don’t like, they ban.
Thus, earlier this week, the German government banned naked shorts—selling a security without owning or borrowing it—on euro zone government bonds and other securities. This attempt to inject market stability ironically did the opposite.
Pakistan, too, had its share of irony. Free-speech enthusiasts tried to defend South Park, the TV show that got into trouble last month over the depiction of Prophet Mohammed through a Facebook group. Pakistan decided to curb this enthusiasm by altogether banning Facebook on Wednesday. If that wasn’t free-speech restriction enough, it later blocked YouTube.
Both short-sellers and websites such as Facebook are merely a medium. The actual problem is macroeconomic insecurity or religious anxiety.
And bans won’t change the underlying malaise. Traders got around Germany’s rules by shorting overseas or by selling the euro. According to reports, some Pakistanis wanting to access Facebook just switched to their smartphones.