Reporter Stringer Wireman interviews Professor Savoir Faire, winner of the Nobility Prize in World Economics.
Wireman: Professor Faire — Thank you for taking the time from your very busy and important schedule to participate in this interview.
Faire: I assure you the pleasure is all mine, Mr. Wireman. But on the other hand, I’m certain this discussion is a feather in your cap as well.
Wireman: Yes, you could say that, sir. My first question is about an economic recession. Do you see one coming?
Faire: No doubt there is one on the horizon. The question is, to which horizon are we referring? A James Bond yield inversion can be indicative of a coming recession. But on the other hand, sails are up in the Bay, consumer confidence is high among cannabis users and negative interest rates in socialist Europe are all signs of continuing prosperity for America.
Wireman: I’m confused about what you just said.
Faire: That’s because you’re not a Ph.D. economist.
Wireman: What are negative interest rates?
Faire: It’s new phenomenon that the world has never witnessed in the past. You see, social programs in parts of Europe, and even in Japan, have become so expensive that people no longer can earn interest on their savings. Things are so crazy that depositors now have to pay the bankers interest!
But on the other hand, negative rates keep these various places afloat, helping to cover their high costs of “free stuff” and lack of job opportunities.
Wireman: Do you see negative interest rates happening in the U.S.?
Faire: It’s certainly possible. However, the impact should be negligible here since people are spenders, not savers.. As a personal example, I don’t save, but instead charge my university credit card to the max. I let my students worry about the interest — ha, ha!
Yet on the other hand, negative rates are a good deal for those borrowing other people’s money. They actually get paid to do it! What could be a better situation than that?
Wireman: But if people don’t save, where does the money come from to lend?
Faire: You used two prepositions together in that last question, Mr. Wireman — using one as an auxiliary verb. But that’s a minor grammatical sideline — ha, ha. On one hand, you might perceive copious borrowing as negative for the economy. But on the other hand, a government can simply print more money and increase debt. Problem solved.
Wireman: Doesn’t that create inflation?
Faire: Well, on one hand, things get much more expensive, but on the other hand, the government just raises the minimum wage to around $100 per hour and all problems are solved once again.
Wireman: The history of countries with out-of-control inflation is not a good one. All have failed in the end. In today’s world, socialist Venezuela is a good example. People who can, are fleeing by the millions
Faire: You’re right about the disastrous results of countries with runaway inflation. But on the other hand, this is why we don’t teach real history to our kids anymore. What young people don’t know won’t hurt them — ha, ha.
Wireman: What about older people trying to retire and live off their savings? In time, they’re ruined by these policies.
Faire: No one really cares about old folks. They’ve lived their lives, and it’s time for them to be sacrificed on the alter of economic progress. But on the other hand, once they’re broke, they’ll be eligible for homeless benefits. It creates a more equitable society.
Wireman: You know, I’m now beginning to understand why former President Harry Truman said, “Give me a one-handed economist.” You guys never seem to commit to one side or the other on any issue.
Faire: You used a splint infinitive, Mr. Wireman. But on the other hand, some law schools teach this style as perfectly acceptable. Any more questions, my dear fellow?
Wireman: Not really. I think I’ve had enough of this one hand vs. the other stuff for a day. Thank you for the interview, professor.
Faire: You’re welcome. By the way, no change for the impromptu grammatical lesson.
Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer and satirist.