Last week I was in Lyon for the Jéco, which stands for Journées de l’Economie. Now economics isn’t really my field – I was accompanying Mrs. B, who knows far more about it than I do – but I’ll try and give you a faithful account of what I saw.
Firstly, a lot of economists, all of whom were experts. Surprisingly enough, they were quite jolly. I suspect this was because they liked being in Lyon, where the food is very good, and they enjoyed each other’s company. I’m fairly sure it couldn’t have been due to the economy, which wasn’t a pretty sight at all. Suffering from a terrible imbalance, it was unable to stand upright, so was wheeled onstage on a stretcher. There the economists gathered round, poking it and prodding it in the hope of eliciting a reaction. The economy let out a pitiful groan.
Upon closer examination, the economists discovered all sorts of suppurating deficits, gangrenous debts and crisis cells ready to metastasise. The best that can be hoped for, they declared, is to maintain it in a stable condition by injecting a lot of liquidity. Ultimately, this may circulate enough to cleanse the system. On the other hand, it could form a clot, accumulating in the bank accounts of the wealthiest one percent.
On the Wednesday morning, the economists gave vent to a collective howl of dismay. On top of the sores and afflictions it had already, the economy looked in danger of succumbing to a severe bout of protectionism. ‘How could they let that happen?’ demanded one, gnashing his teeth in despair.
‘It was a low turnout,’ replied another. ‘What do you get when you sit on the fence? A calamity run by Trump and Pence.’ He fancied himself as a poet.
The economy’s breath was now a series of agonised rasps. The economists rushed to its side, massaged its heart and tried to administer free trade. ‘Don’t worry, you’ll pull through,’ they said. ‘His programme is so incoherent, he’ll never be able to implement it.’
Fleetingly, this restored colour to the economy’s cheeks. But it was clearly spoken more out of hope than conviction, and by the time they left, the economists didn’t look so jolly any more. As for the economy, it was taken offstage and put into intensive care.