POSTSCRIPT / October 23, 2008 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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The epidemic that races from Wall St. to Main St.

GRIN, BEAR IT: I have been looking for a short and simple exposition that can explain to housewives the financial crisis that started on Wall Street in New York and spread to Main Street everywhere like a plague bringing down everybody touched by the dollar virus.

If you find such an explanation, please email it to me so we can share it all around. Meantime, bear with short snatches from the Internet — meant more to entertain than to enlighten — on the economic epidemic.

Sample these items forwarded by Mel Amado, who has been reduced to grinning while bearing it.

* * *

MONKEY BUSINESS: Once upon a time in the hinterlands of Palawan, a White Man announced to the villagers that he would buy monkeys for P10 each. The villagers, seeing there were many monkeys in the forest, went out to catch them.

The man bought thousands of monkeys at P10 each. But when the supply started to dwindle, the villagers stopped catching them.

The man then announced that he would now buy at P20 per head. This renewed the villagers’ enthusiasm and they resumed catching monkeys.

Soon the supply diminished even more and people started going back to their farms.
The buying rate was raised to P25 per monkey. The simian supply became even less that it was an effort just to see a monkey, let alone catch one!

The man announced that he would buy monkeys at P50 each!

At the same time, he said that since he had to go to the city on some business, his assistant was to act as buyer on his behalf.

In the absence of the man, the assistant told the villagers: “Look at all these monkeys in the big cage of the man. I’ll sell them to you at P35 each, and when he returns from the city, you can sell them to him for P50 each. But don’t tell him I sold them to you!”

The excited natives pooled their money, some of them even borrowing from nearby villages — and bought all the monkeys at P35 each.

They never saw the man or his assistant again.

Welcome to Wall Street, dude!

* * *

SOUND ADVICE: And now, here is some investment advice from a Wall Street fund manager:

If you had purchased $1,000 of Delta Air Lines stocks one year ago, you would have $49 left now. With Fannie Mae, you would have $2.50 left of your original $1,000. With AIG, you would have less than $15 left.

But, if you had bought $1,000 worth of beer one year ago, drunk and enjoyed the stuff, then turned in the cans for the aluminum recycling refund, you would have $214 cash.

Based on the above, the best current investment advice is to drink beer heavily — be merry — and recycle.

* * *

INDIAN SIGNALS: It was autumn again, and the Red Indians asked their New Chief if the winter was going to be cold or mild. Since he was a Red Indian chief in a modern setting, he could not tell what the weather was going to be.

Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he replied to his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the village should collect wood so as to be prepared.

But also being a practical leader, he got an idea. He went to the phone booth, called the National Weather Service and asked, “Is the coming winter going to be cold?”

“It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold indeed,” the weatherman responded.

So the Chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more wood. A week later, he called the National Weather Service again. “Is it going to be a very cold winter?”

“Yes,” the man at weather service again replied, “It’s definitely going to be a very cold winter.”

The Chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of wood they could find. Two weeks later, he called the weather service again. “Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?”

“Absolutely,” the weatherman said. “It’s going to be one of the coldest winters ever.”

“How can you be so sure?” the Chief asked.

The weatherman replied, “The Red Indians are collecting wood like crazy!”

This is how the Stock Market works!

* * *

EURO, WITH LOVE: Then, of course, you have heard of General Euro who claims to have lost faith in the banking system long before the Wall Street meltdown.

You would not catch him accepting checks and such banking instruments from contractors and benefactors. He goes around carrying his money in a duffel bag together with his toiletries and vitamins. When he goes to sleep, he stashes the bag under the bed.

And so one day, Euro was sent on a secret mission to Moscow. His assignment was so secret that he himself did not know what was to happen until he got there, or so he claimed.

To take care of contingencies, he was given a cash advance stuffed in big envelopes that he was to open only when he got to his final destination.

So when at the airport he was asked what was in the bag, he had to open it and, lo and behold, there was more than the 100,000 euros that a traveler may bring in or take out without declaring it.

Moral: Count the loot the first chance you have. And ask about credit cards.

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 23, 2008)

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