Me: Welcome to this conference on the recent wild swings in the Indian stock market. Gentlemen, what explains this rollercoaster ride?
Technical analyst: Let me look at my charts. Notice how this graph moved sharply up … oh, oh ... wrong graph, that’s the chart of onion prices. I’ll get back to you soon.
Me (to trader): Sir, why are you bare-bodied?
Shirtless trader: I lost my shirt in the market crash. This is the 15th floor, right?
Me: Yes, why?
Shirtless: I’m planning to throw myself out of the window.
Stock guru: That’s so sad. Let me help. Did your mother-in-law lose money in the crash? Have those colleagues you hate the most also lost money?
Shirtless: Yes, we all lost money.
Guru: Don’t you want to live a little longer to gloat over their losses?
Shirtless: Eh?... Hmmmm.
Trader 2: Think positive. Never say you lost money, say your investments are seeing negative growth.
Broker: Buy, buy, buy every dip. Sell, sell, sell every drop. That way we all make money. My stocks have already bounced 50% after falling 90%.
Me: Why did it happen? I believe it started with the fall in China?
China expert: Yes, we woke up one morning and found that things are terrible in China. The authorities there are horrible.
Me: Yes, no human rights, no freedom. Tyranny and oppression.
China expert: No, no, all that is fine. The buggers can’t even prop up their market, the incompetent fools.
Me: Our star investor didn’t lose any money during the crash. What was your brilliant strategy, sir?
Star investor: All the economists and market gurus were saying India is a great place to invest, so I decided to buy as much as I could. But you see, I have lost my glasses and can’t see properly. So I clicked on ‘Sell’ instead of ‘Buy’. The market crashed that day, but I had already sold all my stocks.
China expert 2: Confucius say, dumgai.
Me: No Chinese please. Any advice for young investors?
Star: Um…Lose your glasses?
Guru: You must diversify. I’m diversifying into crystal ball gazing and palm reading. Also lotteries.
Technical analyst: Here’s the right chart. See this nice head and shoulder pattern?
Sceptic: But that’s the map of India. The head is Kashmir and the shoulders are Punjab and Uttarakhand.
Technical analyst: Oh…ooops, wrong chart again, will get back.
Sceptic: It’s all a giant financial bubble. All the bubbles are bursting. The end of the world is nigh.
Me: What are you investing in?
Sceptic: I am fond of liquid assets. Especially vodka.
Trader 2: I’ve invested in a book: ‘Chicken soup for the investor’s soul’. Do buy it.
Chinese expert 2: Confucius say, searching for stocks in bottom gives smelly finger.
Shirtless: I think it’s time to jump.
Sceptic: Wait, wait. They’ve just managed to patch up the bubble. No need to jump. The end of the world has been postponed.
(Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint. The views expressed are personal.)