The Bailout, A Play

by Johnny Debacle

Scene 1

A dark stage, with a single spotlight on Henry Paulson

Henry Paulson: Good morning, ladies and gentleman. My name is Henry Paulson and I run the Treasury. And I don’t mean to make you panic, but if you do not give me a balance sheet that can hold $700 billion on it, and unlimited funding, than the economy will die. That’s right it will die. I don’t mean to cause fear and panic, but those are the only two legitimate reactions you should be feeling right now and you should let those guide you. Let them flow over you, sucking you into my myopic morass which now shrouds my former optimistic obfuscations.

Ben Bernanke: Every other economist disagrees with this proposed bailout but I believe in fear and panic and am drunk on the wine of my new powers. I too must insist that you, the fine people of this country, please give into your fear and panic. It worked in dealing with 9/11, it worked in getting us into Iraq, it worked in re-electing George Bush and now it will work in bailing out this economy. You don’t want it to DIE, do you?

Barney Frank: (Looking disheveled with a bad teen moustache) Blahrm-bram blrankrtrtyc encncmmphphphgh nbmmanana. Bragblahma ththtlthabzzzgh ndragh plghtythmrhm phjalth.

George Bush: I know nothing, if not fear and panic. Trust me, we need this.

Violin solo in the background playing the Vivaldi classic “Short Term Political Cycles Are Mismatched With Jobs Charged With Making Decisions That Have Effect Decades Later”

Congress: FEAR. PANIC.

The Economists: NO!

Congress: FEAR. PANIC.

Wall Street: FEAR. PANIC.

All players dancing on the stage surrounding The Economists who disappear into the floor

Scene 2

A Rational Man: Do we need this?

Henry Paulson: Yes, I need this.

A Rational Man: I said “we”.

Henry Paulson: And I said “I”.

A Rational Man: What will this do? Honestly, I’m a Rational man, thus I have no vote.

Henry Paulson: Maybe, maybe might unfreeze the interbank market.

A Rational Man: But will this save us from recession?

Henry Paulson: No.

A Rational Man: But will this lead to massive inflation?

Henry Paulson: Almost certainly.

A Rational Man: And what about the unknowable second order effects, or third order effects, or x order effects?

Henry Paulson: I ignore them.

A Rational Man: So this bailout is a longshot to do anything positive and it increases the downside risk if it doesn’t work?

Henry Paulson: That is what our math tells us.

A Rational Man: Is this socialism?

Henry Paulson: No, this is necessary.


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