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Talking to the elephant in the room

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Yes, we’re all doing stuff from our home offices. I don’t know what your office is like, but mine’s quite nice. I like it. Until I noticed a strange smell yesterday. Didn’t know what it was, so I had to look around the room a lot, then suddenly realised ...

... there was an elephant in the room.

How the hell did I miss that?

I mean it’s huge!

How could you spend days, weeks, months, working in the home office and miss it?

How long has it been there? And what does it represent?

I didn’t know, so I asked it. Here’s how the conversation went.


Me: Who are you?

Elephant: I am the economy.

Me: What are you doing here?

Elephant: I thought you should be aware of me.

Me: Of course, I’m aware of you, but you’re a bit sick at the moment like all of us, aren’t you?  

Elephant: Yes.

Me: So, why aren’t you wearing a mask?  

Elephant: Donald Trump said that I didn’t need one.

Me: But he’s also been sick?  

Elephant: Yes.

Me: Do you know what’s going on?

Elephant: No, but what I do know is that your people have messed me up.

Me: My people?  

Elephant: Yes, your people. Your governments, your leaders, your decision makers. All of them are messing me up, and I’m not happy.

Me: But they had to mess you up to deal with this disease.

Elephant: Coronavirus?

Me: Yes, of course. You know.

Elephant: I know what?

Me: You know. The disease has meant that we have all had to stay at home, lockdown, not go out, not do anything this year.  

Elephant: Is that what happened?

Me: Absolutely. I thought you would know.   

Elephant: No one told me.

Me: But it’s obvious. If people die from a disease, we have to stop the disease.  

Elephant: But what about my disease?

Me: Have you got coronavirus?

Elephant: I’ve no idea what I’ve got, but I feel sick.

Me: What are the symptoms?  

Elephant: Well, no one is doing anything, going anywhere, buying stuff, travelling, or doing stuff that is my usual day-to-day. I’m starving.

Me: What can I do?

Elephant: Tell people I’m dying.

Me: But I think the people who count know that.

Elephant: They claim they do, but they don’t.

Me: OK, you told me the symptoms, what are the cures?  

Elephant: Spend, spend, spend.

Me: Urmm. Governments are.

Elephant: It’s not enough. I need more.

Me: But there is no more. It is what it is.

Elephant: No, it’s not.

Me: It is.

Elephant: No, it’s not.

Me: It is.

Elephant: No, it’s not.

Me: It is.

(this went on for a while)

Elephant: The world is not what you think it is.

Me: Que?

Elephant: The world does not work the way you think it does.

Me: Pourquoi?  

Elephant: The world was built on an idea.

Me: Go on.

Elephant: The idea was that money makes the world go around.

Me: It does.  

Elephant: It doesn’t.

Me: It does.  

Elephant: It doesn’t.

Me: It does.  

Elephant: It doesn’t.

Me: It does.  

Elephant: It doesn’t.

Me: It does.  

(this went on for a while)

Elephant: Money does not make the world go around, people do.

Me: Obvs.  

Elephant: But you lost the plot.

Me: Really?

Elephant: Yes, and that’s obvs too.

Me: What is?

Elephant: That you let things go. You lost the plot. The planet was being messed up, you flew around the world without a care, you had no consideration for me or for the planet.

Me: I did.

Elephant: My family were all massacred by poachers. Did you care about that?

Me: I did. I give money to the World Wildlife Fund every month.  

Elephant: Bully for you.

Me: So, what does all of this mean?  

Elephant: It means change.

Me: Sure, we always change.  

Elephant: No, it means change forever.

Me: In what way?  

Elephant: Don’t go out, don’t travel, don’t mess up the planet, don’t do the things you used to do.

Me: A new normal?

Elephant: Yes, but that’s what politicians call it. I call it: a new economy.

Me: A new economy?

Elephant: Yes.

Me: What does it look like?  

Elephant: It’s completely different.

Me: In what way?  

Elephant: No one goes here, there and everywhere. They stay local.

Me: They stay local?  

Elephant: Yes. Everyone shops locally, back on the main street. The shopping mall is dead.

Me: Wow!  

Elephant: And everyone shops digitally.

Me: Of course.  

Elephant: Yes, but you may not have realised what that means.

Me: Tell me.  

Elephant: It means that all of the big stuff – groceries, entertainment and such like – is all done digitally. All of the small stuff – fresh vegetables, eating out and such like – is all done locally. Main street is back.

Me: But that sounds like a major change.

Elephant: It is a major change.

Me: But we are going back to the way it was, aren’t we?  

Elephant: No. I’m afraid you’re not.

Me: So, I should invest in digital companies?  

Elephant: No, you should invest in companies that understand digital and physical in the new world of limited movement, limited travel and limited societies.

Me: And who are they?  

Elephant: You know. But don’t just think of the Big Tech guys. Think about firms that do logistics and delivery. This crisis is a major bonus for firms like UPS, DHL, Ocado and such like.

Me: Useful. Can you go now?  

Elephant: No. I am your elephant in this room.

Me: You mean there are others?  

Elephant: Yes. My family were massacred by poachers but their ghosts are everywhere, in every room, in every conversation.

Me: Darn. This is getting deep.

Elephant: It is deep my friend, but this is life.

Me: Will it change.  

Elephant: It always does.

Me: Change is the only constant.

Elephant: Change is the only constant.


Everything changes and nothing stands still

Heraclitus of Ephesus, 535 BC – 475 BC



I shared this partly because Saturday 10th October 2020 is World Mental Health Day. Stay well.

Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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