In an on-going effort to help you understand what is happening in our country’s current financial fiasco, here are two parables. I claim no authorship, nor do I know who authored them. I just offer them in hopes it adds to your understanding of where our money is going…and why.
1. Explaining the stimulus bill
Shortly after class, an economics student approaches his economics professor and says, “I don’t understand this stimulus bill. Can you explain it to me?”
The professor replied, “I don’t have any time to explain it at my office, but if you come over to my house on Saturday and help me with my weekend project, I’ll be glad to explain it to you.” The student agreed.
At the agreed-upon time, the student showed up at the professor’s house. The professor stated that the weekend project involved his backyard pool.
They both went out back to the pool, and the professor handed the student a bucket. Demonstrating with his own bucket, the professor said, “First, go over to the deep end, and fill your bucket with as much water as you can.” The student did as he was instructed.
The professor then continued, “Follow me over to the shallow end, and then dump all the water from your bucket into it.” The student was naturally confused, but did as he was told.
The professor then explained they were going to do this many more times, and began walking back to the deep end of the pool.
The confused student asked, “Excuse me, but why are we doing this?”
The professor matter-of-factly stated that he was trying to make the shallow end much deeper.
The student didn’t think the economics professor was serious, but figured that he would find out the real story soon enough.
However, after the 6th trip between the shallow end and the deep end, the student began to become worried that his economics professor had gone mad. The student finally replied, “All we’re doing is wasting valuable time and effort on unproductive pursuits. Even worse, when this process is all over, everything will be at the same level it was before, so all you’ll really have accomplished is the destruction of what could have been truly productive action!”
The professor put down his bucket and replied with a smile, “Congratulations. You now understand the stimulus bill.”
2. Explaining the government financial bail-out plans
Heidi is the proprietor of a bar in Berlin. In order to increase sales, she decides to allow her loyal customers – most of whom are unemployed alcoholics – to drink now but pay later. She keeps track of the drinks
consumed on a ledger (thereby granting the customers loans). Word gets around and as a result increasing numbers of customers flood into Heidi’s bar.
Taking advantage of her customers’ freedom from immediate payment constraints, Heidi increases her prices for wine and beer, the most-consumed beverages. Her sales volume increases massively. A young and dynamic customer service consultant at the local bank recognizes these customer debts as valuable future assets and increases Heidi’s borrowing limit. He sees no reason for undue concern since he has the debts of the alcoholics as collateral.
At the bank’s corporate headquarters, expert bankers transform these customer assets into DRINKBONDS, ALKBONDS and PUKEBONDS. These securities are then traded on markets worldwide. No one really understands what these abbreviations mean and how the securities are guaranteed. Nevertheless, as their prices continuously climb, the securities become top-selling items.
One day, although the prices are still climbing, a risk manager (subsequently of course fired due his negativity) of the bank decides that slowly the time has come to demand payment of the debts incurred by the drinkers at Heidi’s bar. However they cannot pay back the debts. Heidi cannot fulfill her loan obligations and claims bankruptcy. DRINKBOND and ALKBOND drop in price by 95 %. PUKEBOND performs better, stabilizing in price after dropping by 80 %.
The suppliers of Heidi’s bar, having granted her generous payment due dates and having invested in the securities are faced with a new situation. Her wine supplier claims bankruptcy, her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor. The bank is saved by the Government following dramatic round-the-clock consultations by leaders from the governing political parties. The funds required for this purpose are obtained by a tax levied on the non-drinkers.
Finally an explanation I understand…