I am grateful to the late and great Art Buchwald, the American humourist, for this explanation of how a recession starts – a phenomenon which economists are pleased to call the reverse multiplier.
The owner of Andover Garages, Geoffrey Silverstone, rang up one of his regular customers, Maurice Blake, who ran a gentleman’s outfitters in the town “Maurice, I’m just ordering some of the new Jaguars, and I’m earmarking one for you. What colour and when would you like it?”
“Sorry mate, no can do. Julie’s left me and her sharp barrister is taking me to the cleaners. And I have had a letter from the CSA. Do you sell scooters?”
Geoffrey hung up but soon the phone rang. It was Henry Frostpane, of Output Joinery. “When can we come round to do your conservatory – we’ve just finished that job for the MP?”
“The deals off.” said Geoff. “But I’ve got all the panels.” “Sorry Henry , but Maurice is not buying the Jag”
When Henry got home, he found his wife had bought a huge new plasma TV from Stan Widescreen. Fortunately, it was unwrapped. “That’s going back to Stan in the morning” “Why so?” “Geoffrey’s not building the conservatory, because Maurice isn’t buying the Jag.”
Stan’s face fell when he got the TV back from Henry. He rang Philip Beachcomber at Andover Travel. “That holiday to Turkey, Phil? – I am afraid it’s off.” “But the tickets are here – with no fuel surcharge and take-off from Southampton” “Henry’s not buying the TV set because Henry’s not building Geoff’s extension, because Maurice isn’t buying the Jag.”
Philip went round to Charles Portal, his bank manager. “I am afraid I can’t make this month’s repayment” “Stan’s not buying his holiday because Henry’s not buying a TV because Geoffrey doesn’t want a conservatory, because Maurice isn’t buying the Jag.”
When Andrew Makepeace came in to borrow money for the extension to his nursing home, he got a flea in his ear from Charles “I can’t lend you any money because Philip has missed this month’s repayment.” Andrew rang up Norman Brown, the builder, who laid off eight men.
A few week’s later, Jaguar slashed the prices on their new models. Geoffrey rang up Maurice. “ At these prices, even you can afford one – after the divorce costs.”
“Oh that’s all over. There was a misunderstanding – Julie’s back. The 'other man' really was a plumber fixing the taps in the ensuite. “Then you can certainly afford the car.”
“You must be joking. Trade is flat on its face. I haven’t seen you, Henry, Stan, Phil, Charles, Andrew or Norman in my shop for weeks.”