Art and commentary by Kimberly Harris

Posts tagged ‘inflation’

The Tragedie of Macben and the Bubble Economie

Macben is posing next to his printing press which is churning out new US currency

Macben is saving the economie with his magick prynting presse

Act 4
In an abandoned Metro tunnel deep below the nation’s capital, three witches are conjuring up trouble for Macben. As they parade around a steaming cauldron, the faint rumbling of an Orange Line train can be heard in the distance.

First Witch
Thrice the brittle hedge funds stumbled

Second Witch
Thrice and once the walled street tumbled

Third Witch
Speculators cry “‘Tis time, ’tis time.”

First Witch
Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d debt throw:
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae
A-I-G and B-of-A
Goldman Sachs and rich folks tax
Dash of TARP and spoiled carp
Medicare and Medicaid
Student loans and underwater homes
Securitize and monetize

All
Double, double, toil and trouble;
Economy burn and cauldron bubble.

Second Witch
Pundits mumble, never humble
Irrational exuberance and unwise bets
Greek debt and subprime mortgages
Offshored jobs and moribund industries
Bloated bonuses and insider trading
Bernie Madoff and R. Allen Stanford
Into the cauldron hot and deep

All
Double, double, toil and trouble;
Economy burn and cauldron bubble.

Three witches are stirring a cauldron full of poisonous ingredients

The triple witching hour has arrived and the Weird Sisters are preparing a potion to cast powerful spells upon the economie

Third Witch
Real estate crumble, derivatives fumble
Bankers grumble and Congress bumble
Unemployment riseth and inflation loometh
Administration waverth and GSA partieth
Treasury selleth and China buyeth
Liquidity traps and shadow stats,
Mark-to-market, bondholder haircut
Moody’s, Fitch and S&P
Sovereign downgrades and party of tea
QE1, QE2 and QE3 soon to be
Manipulate and stimulate

All
Double, double, toil and trouble;
Economy burn and cauldron bubble.

Second Witch
Cool it with a failed IPO,
Then the charm is firm and good.

Enter Geitnercate with three witches

Geitnercate
Oh well done! I commend your pains,
And every one shall share i’ th’ capital gains.
And now about the cauldron sing,
Like bulls and bears in a ring,
Enchanting all that you invest in.

Second Witch
By the picking of my stocks
Something wicked this way comes.
Open, locks,
Whoever knocks.

Macben
How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags?
Has the dreaded hour of triple witching at last arrived?
What is ’t you do?

All
A deed that goes by many names.

Macben
I conjure you by that which you profess—
Howe’er you come to know it,
Insider information or salmon coloured journal
Answer me.
Though you untie the currencies and let them fight
Against the banks, though the yeasty valuations
Confound hedge fund managers and day traders alike
Though swaps be lodged and derivatives blown down,
Though investment houses topple on their warders’ heads,
Though online brokerage firms do slope
Their revenues to their foundations, though the treasure
Of the world economy tumble all together,
Even till destruction sicken, answer me
To what I ask you.

First Witch
Speak

Second Witch
Demand

Third Witch
We’ll answer

First Witch
Say, if th’ hadst rather hear it from our mouths,
Or from our masters’.

Macben
Call ’em. Let me see ’em.

First Witch
Pour in the tears of analysts that hath eaten red ink
Add lobbyist’s grease that graced the Congressional palms
Into the flame

All
Come, high or low;
Thyself and office deftly show!

The ghostly disembodied head of John Maynard Keynes
.

A burst of light flashes down the darkened tunnel.
An apparition slowly rises from the steaming cauldron.
It is the ghost of renowned stimulator John Maynard Keynes


.

Macben
Tell me, thou long lamented sage

First Witch
He knows thy thoughts
Hear his speech, but say thou nought.

First Apparition
Macben! Macben! Macben!
Beware McRon, the thane of Paul.
Be seduced not by his gilded standard
Instead manipulate and stimulate
Dismiss me. Enough!

The specter descends back into the cauldron.

Macben
Wherever thou art, for thy good caution, thanks
Thou hast harp’d my fear aright. But one word more—
Will fair Fedres be occupied, audited or perchance abolished?

First Witch
He will not be commanded. Here’s another
More potent than the first

The ghostly disembodied head of Richard Nixon.

.

A thunderclap is heard. A second apparition slowly resolves from the cauldron’s steamy mist. It is the ghost of Richard Nixon, slayer of the gold standard and champion of fiat money.

.

.

Second Apparition
Macben! Macben! Macben!

Macben
Had I three ears and Siri too, I’d hear thee, o tormented spirit.

Second Apparition
Be greedy, bold, and resolute. Laugh to scorn
The allure of gold and its falsehearted charm
For as long as the presses roll
No harm shall visit Macben

Macben
Then preach on. What need I fear of McRon?
But yet I can’t be double sure, so I take my chance
That the fates will prescribe no nomination
And that I may continue to voice pale-hearted lies
And slumber roundly innocent of inflationary dread.

Nixon’s ghost dissolves back into the eerie fog

The ghostly disembodied head of Alan Greenspan

.

.

A lightning bolt flashes. A third apparition rises from the steaming cauldron. It is the doppelgänger of Alan Greenspan, the architect of the great housing bubble

.

Macben
What is this spirit
That rises like the issue of an elder,
Wearing upon his bald-brow creases of wisdom
While pronouncing equivocal fedspeak

Third Apparition
Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care
Who chafes, who frets, or where investigators skulk.
Fedres shall never ruined be until
Great Bretton Woods to Foggy Bottom
Shall come against Macben.

Macben
That will never be.
Who can impress the forest, bid the tree
Unfix his earthbound root? Sweet bodements! Good!
Inflation dead, to emerge never till the woods
Of Bretton rise, and our high-placed Macben
Shall live the life of leisure, pay his breath
To time and mortal custom. Yet my heart
Throbs to know one thing. Tell me, if your art
Can tell so much: shall Bankwoe’s issue ever
Govern in this land?

The apparition condenses down into the cauldron

The ghosts of Keynes, Nixon and Greenspan appear to Macben

Macben recoils in horror when he is confronted by the ghosts of Keynes, Nixon and Greenspan and hears their dire predictions.

All
Seek to know no more.

Macben
I will be satisfied: deny me this,
And an eternal recession shall fall upon you! Let me know.
Why sinks that cauldron? and what noise is this?

To be continued…

Illustration by Kim Harris
Story by Don Rudisuhle

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Ben Bernanke’s optimistic outlook for the economy

Picture of Ben Bernanke portayed as Pinocchio

Benocchio assures the public that inflation is under control

On Wednesday, April 27, 2011, for the very first time in history, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve held a press conference and took open questions from journalists representing prominent news organizations and prestigious financial publications.

During his opening statement, the Chairman denied that the liquidity being added through the quantitative easing program and the purchase of hundreds of billions in Treasury debt has contributed to inflation. He further asserted that the current rise in prices was a temporary phenomenon and that they would revert to historical norms in due time. The Chairman also reiterated the Federal Reserve’s commitment to maintaining a strong dollar. When Treasury Secretary Geithner made a similar statement in 2009 during an address to students at Beijing University, he elicited loud bursts of laughter from the audience.

These rosy predictions fly in the face of what ordinary consumers are experiencing on a daily basis when they shop for basic necessities. Just as the US Department of Agriculture predicted in October of last year, retail prices for fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, dairy products and meat have gone up dramatically, some of these registering annualized increases of as much as 14%.

The Consumer Price Index published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics concedes a 3.6% inflation rate over the last 12 months for food purchased for consumption at home, and this is likely to be understated. Even McDonald’s Corporation announced last week that it expects inflation in food costs this year, and everybody knows that when the clown speaks, people listen.

Also, people need to get to the store and to their place of employment, assuming they are lucky enough to have a steady job. Over the last six months, gasoline has increased at a rate of more than 6% per month from $2.82 to $3.87 per gallon and there is no relief in sight from the destructive impact wrought upon budgets of families already stressed by the long recession the country has been experiencing.

Maybe the government really does have inflation under control as we’re being told, but more likely, the wooden man with the nicely trimmed beard and the prominent nose hasn’t filled up his car or been to the grocery store lately.

Romanian Witches Save the US Economy

Three Romanian witches stand in front of the US Capitol

The Romanian Witches arrive in Washington

President Obama recently gave his second State of the Union address and announced a number of measures he proposes to take to help bring the federal deficit under control. However, given the structure of entitlements and the growing cost of servicing the national debt, it will be a daunting task to reign in spending to a level where a balanced budget can be envisioned for the future. To help achieve this objective, the President called on both parties to work together for the purpose of stabilizing our country’s finances and returning the nation to prosperity.

The deficit has been accelerating for some years, and although leaders from both parties have repeatedly called for spending cuts, government expenditures have continued unchecked and the national debt now stands at more than 14 trillion dollars and is rapidly approaching 100% of Gross Domestic Product. Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf recently cautioned that unless federal spending is cut soon, the country could tumble into a serious fiscal crisis. Heeding the Budget Director’s admonition and realizing that a tax increase in the middle of a recession would not play well with their constituents, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) and fellow committee member Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) both called for a bipartisan plan to trim federal spending without delay.

Recognizing the extreme urgency of moving to stop the financial hemorrhage, the two legislators concurred that nothing short of a radical solution would suffice. They had both read a recent BBC news story regarding the considerable political influence wielded by the Romanian Witch Guild in its successful attempt to persuade that country’s legislators to abandon a controversial income tax that had been proposed for the purpose of boosting revenues by taxing several new categories of independent contractors, including witches, magicians, fortune-tellers and tarot readers.

The senators were cognizant of the fact that some years back there had been rumors that Nancy Reagan’s trusted psychic Joan Quigly had cautioned the first lady that spendthrift malevolent spirits were slowly possessing key government office buildings in Washington, including the halls of Congress. Although their presence was characterized primarily by harmless pranks, it eventually became evident that they were using supernatural suggestion techniques to render legislators powerless to vote against new spending bills and unfunded mandates to the states.

Acting upon the two senators’ recommendations and exhibiting extraordinary bipartisan agreement and collaboration, both houses of Congress overwhelmingly voted to provide supplementary funding to the United States Agency for International Development’s Regional Contracting Office in Budapest to travel to Bucharest to recruit the Romanian witches and issue them each a Personal Services Contract to come to Washington for the purposes of exorcising the Deficit Demons from the halls of Congress.

As soon as they arrived in the nation’s Capitol, the Romanian witches immediately went to work. Dressed in their purple ceremonial garbs that shield them from evil, the three set up their cauldron in the middle of the Capitol rotunda and proceeded to boil up a powerful brew consisting of swamp water from Foggy Bottom, dried Russian moles, soiled congressional laundry and old bones from long-forgotten skeletons secreted away in legislators’closets. They pronounced the requisite incantations as they circled the cauldron stoking the fire and stirring the thick toxic gruel. In a final gesture to seal the spell and command the spirits to depart the Capitol, the witches cast a mandrake root into the Potomac River. Within very few minutes, the effect of the witches’ spell was evident to all of Washington’s residents. In a scene reminiscent of the movies Poltergeist or Ghostbusters, the spirits were seen to depart en masse in all directions of the compass. The President and his Cabinet were in awe, and members of the normally restrained judiciary broke out into applause as the last spirits disappeared over the horizon. Within minutes, liberal and conservative legislators alike immediately saw the virtue inherent in fiscal restraint and responsible spending. Thanks to the Romanian witches, the United States was set on a course back to solvency and budgetary bliss.

Validating the long held principle that once government consultants are hired, they never go away, prominent members of Congress suggested since the Romanian witches had been so successful in bringing about a balanced budget, they will immediately consider Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s request that their contracts be extended indefinitely so that they can continue to produce spells that will keep inflation in check for the foreseeable future.

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