It’s 2021 and the elephant is really smelly. I don't think he's washed since 2019, so I finally managed to persuade him not only to stay in the room, but that he needed to wash and shower.
[The elephant represents the economy and this is the eighth conversation with him in a series]
As we stood in the shower together – I still had my pants on, fyi – the elephant looked happier.
ME: You like the shower?
ELEPHANT: It’s nice. I feel better.
ELEPHANT: Do you have a nice one?
ME: I have this spice and lavender mix.
ELEPHANT: Let me smell it.
The elephant extended his trunk and sniffed.
ELEPHANT: I guess it will do.
ME: So, have you made a New Year’s Resolution?
ELEPHANT: What’s that?
ME: A New Year’s Resolution? Something you will do in 2021 that you didn’t do in 2020, but you feel you should have done.
ELEPHANT: Like what?
ME: Like diet, lose weight, exercise more, give up eating donuts.
ELEPHANT: I don’t eat donuts.
ME: I know, but you get the idea. You resolve to do something differently this year compared to last. To make yourself better.
ELEPHANT: But I’m wonderful.
ME: You are, but you lost weight last year and you were nasty and smelly. Maybe you should shower more.
ELEPHANT: OK, that’s my New Year’s Resolution. I will shower more.
ME: That sounds good.
I liked the idea of a nice, clean, good-smelling economy.
ELEPHANT: What about the bird?
[the bird represents the future]
ME: What about the bird?
ELEPHANT: Shouldn’t the bird shower too?
ME: But the bird doesn’t smell like you.
ME: Because when it drops its' waste it falls to the ground as the bird is in the air.
ELEPHANT: And me?
ME: When you drop your waste, it falls all over us, everywhere.
ME: So, the bird’s crap is not as stinky as yours.
ELEPHANT: Are you saying I’m full of crap?
ME: Well, you said it yourself.
ME: You’re the economy and not an economist.
ELEPHANT: You’re saying the economy is full of crap?
ME: No. I’m saying that most things to do with economists is full of rubbish.
The elephant looked perplexed as he soaped his armpits.
ELEPHANT: But I thought economists were meant to be really intelligent.
ME: Many of them are.
ELEPHANT: But how can people so intelligent be so rubbish, if what you’re saying is right?
ME: Because they have no idea where you’re going to go next.
ELEPHANT: But they do know. I’m the elephant in the room.
ME: I know that. You know that. They don’t know that. They can’t see you.
ELEPHANT: They can’t see me?
ME: They can’t see you.
ELEPHANT: So, how do you see me?
That stumped me. I put soap on the elephant’s back.
ME: I guess I see you because you showed yourself to me.
ELEPHANT: But I never hid.
ME: I know that. You know that. But they don’t know that.
ELEPHANT: Does that mean they can’t see the bird either?
ME: I guess not.
ELEPHANT: So, what’s an economist here for?
ME: To guess what the future might be.
ELEPHANT: They just need to see the bird.
ME: I know.
ELEPHANT: And if they saw the bird, they could see me.
ME: I know.
ELEPHANT: Where is the bird, by the way?
I wasn’t sure. We towelled down and went back to the lounge. The bird was on the window-sill. I don’t keep him in a cage anymore. You can’t cage the future. After making a nice cup of tea, we all sat together.
ME: Bird? What’s going to happen this year?
The bird tapped away in morse code as usual.
ELEPHANT: What did he say?
ME: I thought you understood his code now?
ME: He says 2021 will be good.
ELEPHANT: How does he know?
ME: Bird, tell me more. How do you know?
The bird tapped.
ME: He says he just knows and that, by summer, everything will start feeling normal again.
ELEPHANT: A new normal?
ME: A new normal, yes. But normal.
The elephant smiled. The bird went for a fly around. I drank my tea and snoozed. As I slept, I dreamed about the summer and wondered if it really would be normal. What does normal look like? Is this the new normal?
Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, 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...