The markets payed a call on Europe but the masters of the house, Cindeurella and the Prince, were both on vacation at different low cost beaches. They were ushered to a waiting room by the doorman, an impressive gentleman of a much lordlier bearing than his employers.
He was half-concealing a frightening club under his frock, so that the markets could perceive its fearful size and he asked them with exquisite politeness to get at ease and wait until the masters came back from the beach, in a month time.
– You must be kidding! – snorted a bond shorter getting to his feet and stepping threateningly in his direction.
– Of course not, kindly sit back and be patient – said the doorman openly leaning on his club. They could all see now the ominous letters embossed in rusty and spiky iron on the club: SMP. It must have weighted more than any of them and yet he wielded it as if it was made of paper. The capital letters were bulgy and full of sharp knots The dots separating them were pointy nails. He got their glances and smiled – It stands for Securities Market Programme. Yes; with two m’s – he added with the slightest French accent, looking sternly in the eye at the Americans in the room.
– While we are waiting, why don’t we just have a nice cup of tea and a good old chat? – he said, sitting neatly on a Louis XIV chair – My name is Trichet. Since the household is undergoing what we could call a rough patch, I am doubling as a doorman, but my main job is Treasurer of Cindeurella and the Prince.
Without missing a beat, he mercilessly clubbed down a bond short seller who had tried to sneak away with a Fabergé egg.
– You see, gentlemen, the situation is simple. You came here to collect Cindeurella’s promissory notes and I assure you they are as good as the Prince’s. Cindeurella and the Prince are as close as ever and stand out on this as a single errr… person. Moreover, if you try to short the chits, I will have no option but to use this again – another short seller sat back very still.
– Nonsense! – said cautiously a sovereign fund manager, keeping the club within his vision field – we all saw in Entertainment Tonight that they are divorcing!
– They might or might not be, but in the meantime, I have been asked to take care of the paycheck. In fact, my job allows me to make unlimited overdraws from their bank accounts and, being also the doorman, nobody can fire me – he chuckled a little – come to think of it, I can draw more from their account that they themselves will be ever able to… funny!
The markets had all inhabited condominiums at some point of their lifes and knew Trichet had a point about not being fireable. Nevertheless, they were not satisfied:
– Bogus! shouted a hedge fund CEO, half raising from his chair – In the end it is the Prince who will have to foot the bill and your reckless buying will only make refuse to pay these new bills! He will get another Treasurer and change bank account. He will! And you are retiring! You are not entitled to buy at that scale!!
Trichet clubbed a small group who had dashed towards him. But e spoke calmly:
– I have specific instructions from the Prince to accept Cindeurella’s notes and he’s said that he will gladly honour them.
– Gladly my foot! His court is quarreling over this constantly, he could be overthrown! We want gold!!
Trichet split the head of the complaining banker with a single stroke of his club. He seemed genuinely outraged now:
– I told you not to utter Gold in my presence!!
But he was feeling melancholic. It was true that he was retiring and, deep in his heart, he was not sure the Prince would abide by his vague promise. He felt it was sad for a gentleman to have to spend his last working days at the service of a less than fully dependable master.
The markets perceived his moment of weakness. They felt they were being held. They started to panic,thinking this was only a diverting manoeuvre to buy time while Cindeurella got away without paying her debts. They rose at once and, taking courage in numbers, lurched as a mob toward Trichet, shouting to paralyze him.
Trichet smiled and wielded his club…