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The U.S. Economy From the Lighter Side

Posted by Larry Doyle on June 26, 2009 2:23 PM |

Summer Friday afternoons on Wall Street trading desks were always entertaining propositions. Traders were figuring out who would cut out early. The jokes would fly. The older folks on the desk would welcome hearing the Thursday evening escapades of the younger crowd. Invariably, somebody would say, “have you heard the one about….”

In that spirit, hat tip to RO for providing this quick overview of the current state of the U.S. economy. ¬†Funny how this snapshot is very much akin to the ‘shell game’ analogy often used here at Sense on Cents.


It is a slow day in the East Texas town of Madisonville.

It is raining, and the little town looks totally deserted.

Times are tough, everybody is in debt and everybody lives on credit.

On this particular day a rich tourist from the East is driving through town.

He enters the only hotel in the sleepy town and lays a hundred dollar bill on the desk stating he wants to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to pick one to spend the night.

As soon as the man walks up the stairs, the hotel proprietor takes the hundred dollar bill and runs next door to pay his debt to the butcher.

The butcher takes the $100 and runs down the street to pay his debt to the pig farmer.

The pig farmer then takes the $100 and heads off to pay his debt to the supplier of feed and fuel.

The guy at the Farmer’s Co-op takes the $100 and runs to pay his debt to the local prostitute, who has also been facing hard times and has lately had to offer her “services” on credit.

The hooker runs to the hotel and pays off her debt with the $100 to the hotel proprietor, paying for the rooms that she had rented when she brought clients to that establishment.

The hotel proprietor then lays the $100 bill back on the counter so the rich traveler will not suspect anything.

At that moment the traveler from the East walks back down the stairs, after inspecting the rooms.

He picks up the $100 bill and states that the rooms are not satisfactory . . . pockets the money and walks out the door and leaves town.

No one earned anything. However, the whole town is now out of debt and looks to the future with a lot of optimism.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how the United States Government is conducting business today.

If that doesn’t scare you, then I don’t know what will.


  • lizzy

    Great story. Everyone is out of debt and feels optimistic!

  • Phil

    Unless I’m missing something, they also no longer have an asset that they previously had (a receivable). All of them had a $100 asset and a $100 liability, which equals zero.

  • coe

    LD – This is a pretty elliptical story…it kind of reminds me of the M.C. Escher print with all the staircases, and it isn’t easy to get a clear picture of whether the folks on these staircases are going up or down…it seems to me, though, that each of the players had both a receivable as well as a debt, and it all stemmed from the velocity of the money supply…I might direct your attention to a wonderful and simple explanation of all this on YouTube – search for “Money as Debt” (there are five parts to this fun and animated presentation, so strap yourself in)…the bottom line is that our monetary system is a growing scheme of debt on debt and I am quite afraid of the implications for our children and their children…seems like life was a bit simpler in Madisonville than it is in Obama/Bernanke/Geithner-land! It’s a wonderful thing to own a printing press, but there are all sorts of consequences if you are running it non-stop on three shifts…

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