Monday: Investors reeling from the stock market carnage have been told there is no need for alarm. “You must keep a cool head in these volatile times,” said an Indian equity analyst. “This is not the right time to panic.” Meanwhile, US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson announced that, as a follow-up to the nationalisation of the country’s largest insurance company and its largest mortgage lenders, he would nationalise several other US banks in trouble. In a related move, the US Federal Reserve Bank widened the security it accepts for loans to include old clothes, books and magazines, etc.
“It’s essential for promoting consumer confidence here in the US,” said a person standing in a 10-mile-long queue outside the headquarters of the US Federal Reserve clutching a box full of old Playboy magazines. “This should be worth a loan of at least $100? he said, pointing to the magazines, “even after the discount the Fed puts on them. But I’m aggrieved that idiot who has a Penthouse collection is getting more.”
Economists say these measures are essential to keep intact America’s god-given function in the global economy as consumer of last resort.
Tuesday: As another blue-blooded bank hit the dirt, the US government nationalised all banks today. “This is the best way to avoid a financial catastrophe,” said an official. He also indicated they would be sending a high-powered team to India to study its financial system. “The Indian banking system is 80 per cent state-owned,” he said, “and see how well it has held up during the crisis.” He hinted they would soon invite YV Reddy, the recently-retired Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, to take over the US Federal Reserve. “Reddy has distinguished himself by staunchly resisting all attempts at reforming the Indian financial system during his tenure,” said the official, “and his talents would be welcome at this critical juncture.”
Reports suggest that Reddy has drawn up a circular instructing all US banks to lend only against fixed deposits.
Wednesday: The US government moved swiftly today to scotch rumours that Fidel Castro is being invited to the White House to give tips on bank nationalisation. “He is part of the Axis of Evil,” said the White House press attaché, “and we can have no truck with his evil policies.”
Meanwhile, a press release from the US Treasury said that the banks taken over by the government will be renamed, ‘People’s Bank of the US No. 1’, ‘People’s Bank of the US No. 2’, and so on. Reporters were asked to direct all questions about the changes to Comrade Hank Paulson, US Treasury Secretary. Reports of posters of Mao Zedong appearing on Wall Street are, however, premature. Meanwhile, President Bush’s call to British Premier Gordon Brown went unanswered, as that country declared itself bankrupt this afternoon.
Thursday: With the stock market going nowhere, the government has issued an edict banning selling in all stocks. “Those who sell stocks in these turbulent times are evil people and will be added to the Axis of Evil,” said a government spokesman. Meanwhile, in an emotion-laden speech, President Bush said the new policies were a historic deal, ushering in an era of unprecedented prosperity under a system of communist capitalism, socialist free enterprise and nationalised free markets. In other news, dictionary makers today added several new words to their list of abusive words. “Apart from the terribly derogatory, ‘You Alan Greenspan’, two recent terms of abuse are ‘Bloody ban****’ and ‘Son of a stockbro***’,” said Dr Johnson.
Friday: Amid much fanfare, President Bush unveiled America’s First Five-Year Plan today. Sources say it is modelled after the Indian Five-Year plan and the Soviet Gosplan. “We’re also changing the country’s name to the Union of Socialist Amerika,” said a commissar, while a band in the background struck up the patriotic hymn ‘Red Stars and Stripes Forever’.
Back home in India, the equity analyst said it was now time to panic.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint