Magazine article Economic Trends

The Economy in Perspective

Magazine article Economic Trends

The Economy in Perspective

Article excerpt

My dinner with Andre ... I had seen my old friend Andre just last July, when he astonished me with the news that he had returned to politics in Nedlaw, his native land. Delighted to be meeting again so soon, I raised my glass in a toast as we sat in the Endless Bounty, a trendy new restaurant on the harbor.

"A l'avenir, mon ami," Andre chirped as our glasses clinked. "Here's to better days ahead. I hadn't planned to return to your country quite so soon, but the events of the past few months have made my special expertise, well, indispensable to your government." Pausing, he ordered with assurance. Then, turning back to me, he declared, "If your country wants its growth machine moving again, it must start greasing some ... wheels, so to say."

Andre is not always the easiest person to follow, but I grasped his intent immediately. Late last summer, Nedlaw suffered a series of earthquakes and floods. The prime minister appointed Andre director of the Nedlaw Economic Reconstruction Department. As head NERD, he had broad authority to use the government's resources and powers to stimulate economic growth.

I pointed at him, exclaiming "NERD!" The waiter, alarmed, abruptly set down my friend's fresh Washington oysters and retreated to the kitchen.

Andre pointed back at me, obviously delighted at my quickness, and shouted, "Oui, NERD!" Several pairs of eyes rotated in our direction. The Endless Bounty's patrons, who are serious gourmets, are unaccustomed to such levity at table. Ignoring their stares, Andre continued. "After the tragic events in your country, people have become leery of traveling. Insurance companies feel compelled to raise premiums on their property and casualty risks. Everyone is spending more on security. And governments are using their funds to improve the reliability and safety of their infrastructure and public services. Par consequence, normal patterns of commerce have seized up, throwing your economy into disarray. I'm here to fix it." With that, Andre appreciatively spooned some bouillabaise into his mouth.

"But Andre, what can you suggest that we haven't already thought of? Congress has passed legislation to bolster the airline industry because of its importance to commerce and tourism, and it is considering relief for the insurance industry as well. …

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