Now You See It – Now You Don’t!
Long known as the Magician of Wall Street, the following is a fictionalized account of how Alan Greenspan, magically made America’s life savings disappear and diverted our attention from global warming.
The poster hung by the entrance, features two well dressed and serious looking men, and promises everyone “The Most Amazing Show on Earth”. Mr. Greenspan and his young assistant, will perform “Feats of Financial Folly”, watch as entire economies disappear before your very eyes! Open to the public – everyone welcome. Price of admission – your life savings.
Join us now as we enter the theater to watch the final act of this most incredible performance. The audience has seen some amazing things already, and sensing the climax are all hushed, as the amazing Mr. Greenspan addresses the audience.
“Ladies and gentlemen, you have seen how our volunteer from the audience, and everyone let’s give Mr. America a round of applause, gave us one dollar. Which he kindly removed from his wallet at the beginning of the show.” Everyone politely claps for Mr. America.
The Amazing Greenspan continues, “And you all saw how my trusted assistant Mr. Bernanke, please everyone if you don’t mind, a show of appreciation to the efforts of Mr. Bernanke, took Mr. Americas dollar and placed it into this solid box.” The audience murmurs and nods. Another volunteer, a man who appeared to be an auditor by trade, had been summoned from the audience to examine the box, and had declared it to be solid and empty.
“And ladies and gentlemen, you witnessed did you not, how with a few magic spells, when the box was re-opened, Mr. America’s one dollar bill had magically turned into a one hundred dollar bill?” Mr. Greenspan, ever the show man, loudly exclaims to the incredulous audience as they cheer and hoot their approval. Mr. Bernanke beams on the sideline and dreams of one day being as skilled a performer as the old master.
Mr. Greenspan quiets the crowd and lowers his voice solemnly. “Now I shall perform the grand finale of the evening. Mr. America if you would be so kind as to allow me your services for one final trick?” Mr. America steps back onto the stage, flushed with excitement, the one hundred dollar bill remains in the box.
“Mr. Bernanke, if you would please bring over the magic box, and Mr. America if you would kindly open your hand.” The Amazing Greenspan proceeds to lift open the box and removes the one hundred dollar bill. Taking the one hundred dollar bill between the fingers of his two hands, the Amazing Greenspan holds the bill up in the air, and allows the audience plenty of time to appreciate the reality of the note.
“Now Mr. America,” the Amazing Greespan says rather heavily as he tries to get the attention of his volunteer. Mr. America, his eyes fixated on the one hundred dollar bill, imagines all the things he can buy with the money, and mutely nods in agreement. “This is a one hundred dollar bill, is it not?” asks the magician. “Uh-uh.” Comes the reply. Not a very intelligent response, but understandable, given the circumstances.
“I am going to place this one hundred dollar bill into your right hand, if you could please turn and face the audience so everyone can see me place the one hundred bill into your open hand, excellent, excellent, right there, if you keep your hand open and level, perfect Mr. America.” As Mr. America faces the audience, his sweaty trembling hand opened and empty, Mr. Greenspan neatly folds the one hundred dollar bill in order to fit it snugly into his palm. Sensing the impatience of the audience, the amazing Greenspan quickly places the bill into Mr. America’s right hand, and instructs him to close it tightly.
“Mr. America, can you feel the one hundred dollar bill in your hand?” He asks a visibly excited volunteer. “Yes, yes, I can!” A smiling Mr. Greenspan produces a cane and waves it over the hand holding the note. “I am now going to recite a short magical statement.” Squinting very hard, and holding the cane over Mr. America’s trembling hand, the financial sorcerer casts his spell. “Economy fluxo, liquidity transparente, inflation alto digitatus, recession imminent!” His words echo through the room, no one in attendance quite understands their meaning, it is a language known only to the wise one. With a moment of silence for added effect, the distinguished crowd edges up on their seats, and crane their necks for a better view.
“Would you please open your hand Mr. America.” Instructs the Amazing Greenspan. Hesitating for only a moment, not sure what to expect, Mr. America does as he is told. An audible gasp engulfs the room, Mr. America looks down at his hand. “But, but, it’s gone.” Mr. America semi-coherently begins mumbling. And as rehearsed, the Amazing Greenspan’s assistant Bernanke rushes forward, beside a befuddled Mr. America, and gestures toward the master. “Ladies and gentlemen – the Amazing Greenspan!”
The audience is stunned, they have never seen a trick such as this, this is indeed magic! Not wanting to appear fools, they rise from their seats and cheer wildly, as the Amazing Greenspan takes a slow bow. The curtain begins to descend, lights begin to illuminate the hall, and Mr. Greenspan rises from his bow. Mr. America has not moved, not even a twitch, still mumbling incoherently, “but, but, I had the hundred dollars in my hands.”
Mr. Greenspan places his hand into the open and empty hand of Mr. America, and thanks him for his participation, as he gives it a quick shake. Meanwhile Mr. Bernanke thanks the crowd, “Thank you ladies and gentlemen, thank you, be sure to catch us next month when we appear in Shanghai, tickets are still available. Drive safely. Goodnight.”
The Amazing Greenspan has already stepped behind the curtain. As Mr. Bernanke, before making his way to join the master, leads Mr. America to the edge of the stage and likewise thanks him for volunteering. The crowd collects their coats and purses, checking the seats for any coins that may have fallen from their pockets, and a confused and shaken Mr. America makes his way back to his seat. Mrs. America, is already standing in the aisle when Mr. America arrives, their belongings neatly gathered in her arms. “It was their, right their in my hand, the hundred dollar bill?” He says to his wife while gesturing at his empty palm. “Yes, dear, should we be going now?” Responds Mrs. America.
Mr. and Mrs. America join the crowd exiting the theater. As they leave and make their way towards the subway, members of the audience, can be heard exclaiming “One hundred dollars disappearing from a man’s hand! Incredible, just incredible, never seen anything like it!” Others, recognizing Mr. America, give him a hearty pat on the back and congratulate him for a “Job well done.”
As they head down the subway stairs and toward the turnstiles, Mrs. America turns to Mr. America and asks, “Honey, where’s our dollar bill?”
Photo Credit: Mike Licht / Notions Capital via Flickr’s Media Commons