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The elephant left

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This is the sixth in a series of blogs about the elephant, which represents the economy, and the bird, which represents the future.

The bird was out of its cage, but it stayed in the room. We had talked a lot about the economy and, although the elephant had left the room, I knew it was hanging around somewhere. I asked the bird what’s next?

The bird tapped morse code.

ME: You think things will change?

The bird tapped.

ME: Yes, it’s all digital but what does that mean? What’s next?

The bird tapped.

ME: Nothing will ever be the same? Are you sure?

The bird tapped.

I thought about it. I thought about the bird. I thought about the elephant. I thought about the future. I thought about the economy.

The bird tapped.

ME: You’re saying change is the only constant?

The bird tapped.

ME: And I need to change?

The bird tapped.

But I have changed. We have all changed. Even the elephant has changed. It’s smaller. The elephant has shrunk this year and I think has lost a bit of weight. I decided to go and find the elephant.

Walking through the house, I knew the elephant had to be somewhere, but he wasn’t in the dining room. He wasn’t in the kitchen. He wasn’t in the bedroom. I walked back to the lounge and asked the bird if she’d seen the elephant.

The bird tapped.

ME: What do you mean the elephant has gone?

The bird tapped.

ME: But the elephant is always in the room?

The bird tapped.

I was now worried. The elephant had left the room? What does that mean? What will happen in the future? And if the elephant is the economy, does that mean the economy has left the room too?

I became determined to bring the elephant back, even though I don’t like him very much. Maybe the bird could help.

ME: Bird, do you know where the elephant went?

The bird tapped.

ME: I know. You told me the elephant had gone, but where’s he gone?

The bird tapped.

ME: But that’s not possible. There has to be an economy. We cannot lose the elephant.

The bird tapped.

I got the message, but could not accept the idea that the elephant had left the room. I decided to find him. Putting on my coat and shoes, I knew the elephant would be easy to find as he’s big and smelly. The trouble is that he had left lots of bits and pieces behind, but nothing that could easily signal the revival of the economy.

I started searching.

The first thing I found was crumbs. Crumbs of the economy. Crumbs that had fallen off the elephant. What could this mean?

The second thing I found was a big lump of something very smelly. Now I knew they weren't crumbs. In fact, it kind of represented 2020.

Then I found some footprints. Footprints walking away from the house. I followed the footprints, but still could not see an elephant. Where could he have gone?

Then I found bits of data. He had left some data behind. The data indicated that the economy was going to be ok. Or did it? I don’t know. I need someone to interpret the data.

Then I found the elephant. He was sitting by the front gate, behind a tree, and was miserable.

Why so sad?  I asked.

ELEPHANT: You said you don’t like me anymore.

ME: True.

ELEPHANT: If you don’t like me anymore, do you think I’m going to hang around?

ME: I don’t know.

ELEPHANT: The answer is no. I’m off.

ME: But you can’t leave. You’re the elephant in the room.

ELEPHANT: I’m going to China.

ME: China? Why China?

ELEPHANT: That’s where the future is.

ME: What makes you think that?

ELEPHANT: The bird told me.

ME: But, we need you here. We need you to help here.

ELEPHANT: I’m not staying here. You don’t like me.

ME: I don’t like you because you’re big and smelly, nasty and unpredictable, but I need you.

ELEPHANT: How much?

ME: I don’t know.

ELEPHANT: Tell me how much you need me.

ME: I can’t.

ELEPHANT: OK, I’m off to China.

ME: Look, sorry, what can I do?

ELEPHANT: Nothing.

ME: But I need you. We need you. We need the elephant in the room. We need this elephant in that room. That room, over there.

ELEPHANT: Am I bothered?

ME: The bird is there.

ELEPHANT: The bird is back?

ME: Yes, she was looking for you, as was I.

ELEPHANT: Hmmm. What does the bird say?

ME: She says she needs you.

ELEPHANT: The bird needs me?

ME: Yes, and so do I.

ELEPHANT: Will you be nice to me?

ME: I’ll try.

ELEPHANT: Hmmm. If I come back, will you look after me properly?

ME: I don’t know.

ELEPHANT: Well, I’ll come back to see the bird, but I’m leaving if you’re not nice.

ME: I understand.

The elephant came back to the house and into the room. The bird was there. The bird tapped.

ELEPHANT: What’s the bird saying?

ME: Things are looking up.


Tap, tap, tap.

ME: 2021.

ELEPHANT: Thank goodness for that.

ME: Yes, thank goodness.

I sat with the elephant quietly enjoying each other’s company again. The bird flew onto the elephant’s lap and seemed content. All was well again. Happy days.

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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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