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Economic satire: episode — I

In a library with wall to wall shelves stacked with books, the four gentlemen sat on vintage wingback chairs around an antique wooden centre table, smoking expensive cigars (the Surgeon General warns that smoking can kill you) and drinking a similarly expensive liquid (left to the readers’ imagination).

The assistant stood at one side, apprehensive, anxious, and waiting for The Fatman, obese and comical in his suit, to speak. The unwritten rule; Fatman was always the first to respond to real world queries.

Fatman puffed his cigar, exhaled, and looked hard at the minion, his beady eyes humourless: “What fools these mortals be; will they never learn?”

“My friend, be grateful for the little things,” moved Sith Lord, who was so named due to his remarkable resemblance to Darth Sidious, “after all, it is because of the stupidity of men that we continue to sit in our ivory tower and act as oracles to each and every economic crises.”

“Do they not realize that we are as clueless as they are about the mysterious economy? Despite our laurels, when have we ever carried the day with a workable solution to the real world economic crises? Never as far as I can recall, even the law of averages never worked in our favour,” Fatman sounding wistful.

“Must you always worry?”, admonished Greybeard (the oldest of the lot) “The rulers in pursuit of their own agenda and for their own selfish interests will continue to support the illusion created by economists; and the naivety of men, the natural tendency of the ruled to kneel, ensures that they never get wiser”

“True, but after spectacular failures over the last century, the Great Depression, the Great Recession, the Asian crisis and what not, it would be rational to worry that the ruled may someday catch on and would stop knocking at the altar of economics,” Fatman continued.

“Improbable,” scoffed Slimy (dubbed as such for reasons we believe self evident), “considering that most people still believe in aliens, ghosts, and the WWE. That said, I wonder what we will name the next great global economic disaster – the almost great recession which was actually a depression.”

There was a round of cackling laughter at this. The assistant cringed at this general merriment; it did not bode well when this quartet was amused.

“Honestly,” sighed Fatman, “Her Majesty almost annihilated the illusion. If she had just persisted.”

“Yes, that was a close call. Explaining why a discipline which operates in a nonexistent realm could not foresee a real world crisis would have been next to impossible!”

“I dread the day,” Fatman muttered thoughtfully, “when an economist decides to expose the secrets of economics – like in the case of that turncoat magician on the television.”

“We will cross that bridge when we get to it!” Greybeard declared, visibly irritated, “For the moment, we have to shed some pearls of wisdom. So, why shouldn’t interest rates be increased to 12% when inflation is touching 9%, and is expected to persist for the foreseeable future at the least?”

Slimy nudged Sith Lord with his elbow here, “You were always the imaginative one.”

“Interest rates,” He began with a smirk, “need to be kept stable because gold is expected to be neutral in the short to long term with downside and upside pressures, the dollar is largely unpredictable vis-à-vis the Yen and the Euro fluctuating because of the Coronavirus – all of which contribute to an unstable global economy – and Modi is a tyrant.”

“With due respect, Sir!” the assistant here interjected, visibly perplexed, “what has Modi got to do with inflation and interest rates?”

Sith Lord glowered at him; these fresh assistants were such a pain! “What has anything I said got to do with inflation and interest rates? As it is, the world actually believes that interest rates and inflation are correlated, irrespective of the on-ground supply and demand situation. And, don’t forget, everyone is gullible enough to believe in the magical conclusions of the supply-demand curve. ”

The assistant was stumped and appeared confused. Fatman came to his assistance – after all, he too needed to be trained to take up his future role as an economic pundit in some international organisation or other: “Any time you bad-mouth the enemy, everything else you’ve said becomes the truth. And in any case, nobody challenges economic sounding jargon lest they appear stupid.”

The Assistant nodded. That did make sense. “But sir, what then should be the suggested solution for inflation?”

The Fatman smiled: “You are new, so watch and learn. If economics had any solution for inflation – or anything else, for that matter – there may well not be any financial crises across the globe!”

“But the populace is getting restless!”

“That is a temporary problem; men have short memories and will soon enough adjust to the new reality of expensive food stuff. In the interim, there are standard guidelines in the playbook: start with announcing a fictitious subsidy, create some political crisis to distract the masses, blame the inflation on international enemies, and cross your fingers and wait.”

“A fictitious subsidy, sir?”

“Get the taxman to draft it!” Slimy declared with a guffaw, “Any time he gets his hand on any legislation, the relief becomes more taxes!”

There were smiles all across the table, though the Assistant was unsure as to what was amusing about the taxman’s ability to convert incentives into more taxation.

“But Sir, the very poor are not even in a position to buy bread; flour prices have hit the roof”

Slimy cackled. “Well, we can’t really use the line about the cake here, I guess!”

“The automobile sector,” Fatman offered, with a lecherous smile, “for some unknowable reason, has kicked off. How about that: let them buy cars!”

Syed Bakhtiyar Kazmi, "Economic satire: episode — I," Business Recorder. 2020-10-17.
Keywords: Economics , Economic crises , Asian crisis , Economic disaster , Interest rates , Legislation , WWE

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