Category Archives: Economy

American Consumer Self-Confidence Suffers Heavy Drop

by Jordan Zakarin

Two reports released on Tuesday pegged consumer self confidence at a 16-year low, a precipitous slide stemming from a number of humiliating recent incidents. The breadth of the drop surprised experts, who, while expecting a brief foray into self-disgust, did not anticipate the level of self-loathing that now informs the public’s shattered ego.

The drop, which saw the personal confidence of American consumers fall from “mildly satisfied with self” to “absolute disgust with pathetic excuse for human,” was the largest since February 1992’s descent into “abject shame”. Several factors led to the dismal June confidence levels.

“This is an almost shocking level of pure venom directed at their sad, sad selves, though I cannot say it is entirely unjustified,” said Stephen Amadeus, a social scientist from Brandeis University. “It’s been a real rough patch, with blow after blow to the collective psyche, so I wouldn’t begrudge them this sinking feeling of unworthiness, of any shreds of self-belief blowing away with the latest indignity.”

American consumers have spent the past nine months red in the face as they struggle financially, unable to make rent and angering their much wealthier roommate, which was always an uncomfortable situation in the first place. This struggle has left a significant mark on the global economy, with consumer heads hanging in shame as the international community points fingers at the growing number of derelict Americans stinking up their pristine markets.

“Imagine, for a moment, you’re at a store, at the checkout counter, with what would be your most prized possession, your status symbol, sitting in the shopping cart,” Amadeus explained. “All of a sudden, you open your wallet to pay, and you simply don’t have enough to cover the cost, because you were swindled into paying more and more as you walked down the aisle. And then when you reach out for help, no one in the store can spot you some cash. So you walk out of the store, cart empty, ready to drive into a bridge abutment. You’d really feel like a jerkoff. That’s America right now. Feeling like a poor jerkoff.”

The embarrassment was amplified early in the month, when the long-ignored gas problem the American consumer was suffering from in relative privacy simmered over in the public eye. With news media from around the country filing reports on the event, the consumer was finally forced to acknowledge the issue and begin to attempt to reconcile and solve it, all in a very public forum.

The self-directed vitriol only increased as, not only did the problem worsen by the day, but self-proclaimed experts offered unsolicited advice regarding how to fix the problem, most with proposals that were dead on arrival. After years of ignoring the issue now leading to it being seemingly ingrained in the very being of the consumer’s life, hope has seemed lost of late, and more and more, the American consumer has stayed home, unable to cope with the gas issue.

Of course, that propensity to not leave the house has been assisted by downtrodden consumer’s unemployment, their job shipped to a Cambodian seven year old and/or an Indian grandmother working for old animal crackers and the promise of freedom from want.

This feeling of worthlessness has affected the consumers’ demeanor and ability to project a positive attitude in its interactions with others, and the world now turns a cold shoulder to its stuttering and stumbles. As the downward spiral continues, there is no telling how dejected the American people may feel.

Bloodied and clinging to any shreds of self-belief that remain, the consumer has signaled it may begin to seek out help, circling the classified advertisements for self-help groups that begin in November. For some onlookers, this may be the final opportunity for the depressed American consumer to right its own ship.


Bush: Economy Doing “Heckuva Job”

by Jordan Zakarin

A day after the Department of Labor reported a 22-year high in unemployment, oil prices soared to record highs and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell nearly 400 points in reaction to the devastating fiscal news, President Bush praised the economy, saying it was doing a “heckuva job” for the American people.

The report placed unemployment at 5.5%, with 8.55 million people out of work, including 1.55 million that have been without jobs for longer than 26 weeks, making them ineligible for unemployment benefits. In May alone, the United States shed 49,000 jobs. The statistics, Bush said, were positive indicators for the country’s economy.

“With just 5.5% of our people out of work long term, that’s like 92.5% that have jobs, which is pretty good. We’re definitely ahead of Iraq.” Bush said. “We’re creating jobs every day, and while the doubters point out that many of those jobs are low-paying service industry positions that pay no where near what the old manufacturing jobs we shipped overseas did, slurpees are a vital part of this country’s economy. I know I couldn’t live without my late night frozen drink. Have you tried the various Mountain Dew ones they got now? Awesome.”

As for the 49,000 who were laid off this month, and the millions of Americans seeing their homes foreclosed on Bush offered empathy. “Don’t forget, I’ve got about six months left until I lose my job, and my home. Well, one of my homes. But I’m a positive, optimistic person. I see it as a chance to take some time off and relax, clear some brush and see friends. I think Americans would be served well to adopt that outlook, especially those that have worked as hard as I have.”

When questioned about the record oil prices that threaten to put a damper on the summer travel industry, as well as make it costlier and costlier for people to run their air conditioners in the sweltering upcoming months, Bush lauded the spike in prices.

“Yeah, it’s gotten expensive, and I can sympathize with people having trouble with it. Do you know how much it costs to fill Air Force One? Neither do I, but I can imagine it’s a huge bill for the taxpayers. But, on the whole, this is a good thing. It’s proof that our free market, a market that I have repeatedly insisted must be left to regulate its own devices, is working,” Bush insisted. “Supply and demand, folks. It’s something we learned about Harvard Business School, and it’s just proof that our American system is working.”

Regarding people’s struggles with the high prices, the President said that he had little control over the situation. “Sure, some people may be struggling to fill their tanks, making it impossible to keep the paycheck they earn after their filling up for commutes to work, but that’s we call the invisible hand. And the hand, right now, controlled by oil companies and traders, is reaching into American pockets. Some call that price gouging, even corruption, but my economists and I, we call it ‘trickle down.'”

Fed to Go Balls To the Wall

By Jake Maccoby and Jordan Zakarin

With its decision on March 14th to make a special loan to Bear Stearns and the resulting move soon after to become an emergency lender to all of the major investment firms, the Federal Reserve overturned a longstanding precedent under which it offered only limited direct backing to traditional banks. Now, an aggressive Fed has embraced and expanded its new role, which Fed Chief Ben Bernanke dubbed “balls to the wall” activism, setting the stage for deeper involvement both in the financial world and elsewhere in American society.

“Sure, we bailed out a few banks,” remarked Bernake in an interview. “But why stop there? We’ll eliminate unemployment, save the dollar, fix healthcare, repair social security, end the war in Iraq, and capture Osama bin Laden. We’re the Federal Reserve, baby, and we’re here to rock!”

Some critics of the move worry that the Fed has set a bad precedent in going outside of its traditional role, taking on too much responsibility by vowing to solve problems like global warming and fat chicks. Members of the organization, however, see the expansion as long overdue.

“We’ve been overlooked for too long,” said one official for the Federal Reserve who declined to give his name. “Like, oh, the economy’s faltering? Oh, well let’s just let the Fed bump interest up a fraction of a percent, then. Dude, fuck that- we fight wars now.”

The government, having unwittingly stumbled on what it now sees as a winning formula, is enthusiastic about further use of educated professionals to solve complicated problems after ignoring the option for the better part of two hundred years.

“Think about it,” said a senior policy analyst, who asked not to be named while discussing the use of eggheads. “Healthcare will be fixed by doctors and health professionals, diplomacy handled by experienced diplomats, and wars, which will always be the last-ditch option, will be fought by military leaders who understand the vast human cost of battle! It’s the way of the future!”

Excitement abounded amongst career government employees, who may actually get a chance to justify their miserable existences, and throughout state capitals, where state governments have long suffered under the seemingly arbitrary decisions of Washington, DC.

The Fed is moving quickly to implement its influence, holding weekend-long meetings in the Hyatt Regency hotel, which it commandeered by order of the FBI, which they now run. Two topics to be discussed include the Middle East peace process, which will be assigned to people with years of experience brokering deals between the Israelis and Palestinians, and the loosening of FCC ownership restrictions, which will be debated fairly by industry and consumer advocates, a first for the industry.

The Fed will also take charge of the national debt, and they expect their newly minted power to be useful in negotiations with those slanty-eyed bastards who keep buying up our debt. In addition, they will use the threat of military force against those countries that are owed money by the United States. Specifically, Bernake plans to tell such countries to “shove it up [your] greedy asses,” and to cement his position as a “baller.”

Also scheduled for discussion is the crumbling infrastructure system; in an exciting turn of events, the Army Corps of Engineers will be consulted for the first time since Eisenhower built the interstate highway system.

The decision to use knowledgeable and skilled professionals to help run the country has been met with much consternation from both the White House and Congress, who fear a precipitous loss of influence. When asked for his own views, President Bush was dismissive.

“America doesn’t want nerds and wedgie magnets running things,” he said during a casual interview on a golf course. “They want a decider. If they wanted eggheads in charge, they would have elected that Kerry guy in 2004. But they didn’t. They elected me. Now watch this drive.”

Federal Reserve to Bailout Rich Meatpacker

by Jordan Zakarin

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke announced early Friday the bailout of J. Arthur Honeycutt, a retired bank magnate from Houston. Honeycutt, 81, the retired founder of a meatpacking empire, lost several million dollars investing in a thoroughbred stable that claimed to create Mr. Ed-like talking horses. The stable went bankrupt several months ago.

“After meeting last night, we have decided to take this swift and necessary action,” the Fed said in a released statement. “The current uncertainty in the markets has left many unfortunate investors like Mr. Honeycutt with sizable but in no way crippling losses to their billion dollar portfolios, and we believe the best thing that can be done for the fiscal health of the country is to make sure rich magnates are able to recoup any and all capital they lost in wild, pie-in-the-sky, unlikely to succeed investments.”

Honeycutt, who resides on a sprawling 130-acre estate in suburban Houston, has seen significant hardship since the investment went belly up in February. He was forced into the humiliation of reducing his exclusive Oak Knoll golf course membership to pool-only, and had to ask a friend to take him as a guest to the club’s restaurant to satisfy his starvation for executive chef Rafael Ochoa’s famous leg of lamb dish.

“He sucked down that lamb like it was caviar,” noted one club observer, unaware that the struggling Honeycutt had not eaten a dish costing more than $65 in nearly two weeks.

President Bush, in a press conference Friday, appealed to the country’s better angels as he tried to rally support for the Fed’s decision. “I have full confidence in chairman Bernanke and the board’s decision. They don’t make bailout decisions willy-nilly, or take any economic matters lightly, in fact,” said the President. “This administration believes deeply in the sanctity of the free market. But as Americans, we take care of fellow citizens in need, and I cannot think of anyone more desperate for help than Mr. Honeycutt.”

The President continued his emotional appeal, detailing the hardship that Honeycutt has endured over the past month.

“Sometimes, people enter into contracts without fully recognizing the risks involved. Through no fault that any compassionate human being could possibly assign to him, Mr. Honeycutt got caught up in some faulty investments. For an entire thirty days, he has been dealt the humiliation of having to drive his own 2007 Mercedes S-Class Eagle I by himself, without a driver,” the President muttered, muffled by sniffles and misty eyes.

“At one point, this brave soul even got temporarily lost, though thankfully he quickly found his way thanks to the car’s built in GPS direction system. But I cannot in good conscience risk a further, more drastic meltdown, so I enthusiastically back the Fed’s decision.”

When reached for comment, Honeycutt declined to speak, but an assistant did talk briefly on condition of anonymity. “It’s been terrible. At his weekly polo match, he received some friendly ribbing from friends after declining to join them in an afternoon of real estate speculating. It broke his heart, but what was he to do? He just doesn’t have the cash right now to buy up thousands of acres of barren south Texan land at a time for sport.

“He’s had to allow three long-time maids go, bringing the house help-staff roster down to 24. He almost had to prepare his own sandwich at one point, because the skeleton house crew was busy tending to the pack of mongoose Mr. Honeycutt keeps as pets. Luckily, a child of one of the maids was roaming the house, and was able to put jelly to bread well enough to make a passable sandwich.”

The Federal Reserve has yet to release the exact financial details of the bailout, but the total package is expected to finance repairs to the 81-year old’s yacht, which has come under wear and tea from a preponderance of Republican fundraising dinners.