Otwo attempts: Solving the Financial Crisis

 
 

Tired of the global economy’s woes , Cormac Duffy set out to save the day, creating history’s worst currency in the process.

We all loathe the recession. With side-effects such as home foreclosures, rampant poverty and people thinking it’s acceptable to use the word ‘recessionista’, it’s by no measure a challenge to hate. Worst of all, the not so valiant efforts to save it have so far achieved less than the average student does when going online to “study”. Each day that the recession wears on, leaving bus prices slightly higher and our job prospects even lower, is a day of failure for the IMF and the ECB. Well to hell with those blathering bureaucrats, there’s only one three-letter word I trust to fix this crisis, and that’s moi.

But what was to be done? The first and most obvious option to spring to mind was also the least feasible. The perfect panacea was travelling back to 2005 to tell everyone that just because the economist on the telly has a voice like a wounded meerkat and a face like an ill garden gnome, that doesn’t mean what he’s saying is redundant. Although, if the past was at all accessible, I probably could have just stopped bankers from making terrible investments as Financial Regulation Man – the world’s lamest superhero. [Um, do you not remember Observer Man from issue one? – Ed]

Largely, the problems seem to have obvious solutions. House prices are too low to deal with negative equity? Simple, just increase their value as you do with everything else: have celebrities sign them. Alas, much like communism or all-you-can-eat Chinese food, this was much better in theory than in practice. Aiming high, I spent hours lurking outside the Student Bar dressed in the fashionable style of Mr. Gordon Gekko, trying to get S Club 2 on board for the project. However, their confused reaction upon being invited for a drive to a neglected housing estate in Leitrim, in a car filled with magic markers, was hardly the warm reception I had anticipated, and plans were soon scrapped.

It was time for the Hail Mary pass, something everyone else had been too scared to attempt; printing off enough money to pay back all of our debt. But what about rampant inflation, I hear you say? In fact, I don’t hear you say it, as like any good economist, I’ve already stuck my fingers in my ear and begun saying “la la la la la la”. I may not have had authority to make Euros, but I could always improvise.

To break a very harsh truth, money doesn’t really exist. It’s a figment of our imagination. Once we accept that gaudily coloured paper with shit architecture on it has some monetary value, it does. When we print and use currency, we’re basically taking part in a massive Derren Brown hypnotism-style scam, with more maths and less pizazz. It’s why certain Micronesian tribes use absurdly large rocks, prisoners use cigarettes and Copper Face Jack’s patrons use their own dignity. If I could make my own currency and convince people to accept it at an equal value to the Euro, I was set.

Several hours of half-assed brainstorming birthed the well-intentioned, but clumsily named, Otworo. I needed €120,000,000,000 to meet Irish debt payments in full, and lacking any facilities for large scale printing, design, or minting, there was but one option: hand-drawn currency in very large increments. Our editor, in crudely sketched form, graced the one billion Otworo note, the only denomination. Where most notes have a watermarked embedding along the side, we were content to settle for a bit of the tin foil from a Dairy Milk bar.

A few cheeky photocopies and I had enough Otworos to pay off our fair nation’s debt. Putting the cash (too strong a word?) in an envelope addressed to “Irish Government, Ireland, Europe”, I also included a detailed – definitely not rambling – letter explaining how, with my smarts and their endearingly vacuous personae, we could easily convince the international debt markets that this was legitimate repayment. Alas, the only contact I received was one threatening to place a restraining order on me against the entire Department of Finance. Sometimes genius just isn’t appreciated in its time. I was beginning to worry that the cash was not worth the paper it was drawn on.

With the government not co-operating, we took our Otworo to the free markets. As anyone who has ever studied the dismal science of economics will attest, an expansion of the money supply can resolve an economic crisis by causing several lines on a graph in your lecture slides to move. Extensive attempts to persuade the shops in UCD to accept it came to nothing. Brava offered a single chicken tender for a billion Otworos, most likely out of pity. We would have been content to accept the offer had we not been so concerned with people abusing arbitrage opportunities, and like the old saying goes, “Efficient exchange markets before fast food.” We chose to honour the currency ourselves, of course, but given that we sold nothing but papers, which are free anyway, that didn’t exactly add to the Otworo’s legitimacy. So I decided to leave it in the hands of the people. With the last billion left (several billion had been mistaken for rubbish and disposed), I let it fly from the roof of the Arts block for some lucky soul to find. Then they can deal with all the convincing.

As you can tell by the fact that you’ve read this piece sitting in the same filthy, pathetic squalor you were last week, as opposed to reclining in a recently purchased solid gold Ferrari while a coke-addled Chauffer drives you to badminton, the financial crisis has proved a much more difficult foe than one could ever imagine. Sure, our attempt to fix it was foolish and bizarre; some would even say it reflects on us having a serious lack of connection to reality, but, to be fair, we probably did slightly more than Fine Gael, and certainly looked better doing so.

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