Jack and Jill went up the hill to figure out the economy.

Jack said, “We’re in a recession.”

Jill said, “No, we’re not.”

Jack said, “How do you know?”

Jill said, “How do you know?”

Jack said, “Look at the unemployment rate. It’s going up.”

Jill said, “Look at the prime rate. It’s coming down.”

Jack said, “But the stock market has dropped 400 points in the last six months.”

Jill said, “It’s gained 200 points in the last three months.”

Jack said, “Look at the cost of gas. It’s skyrocketed. It’s through the roof.”

Jill said, “Gas today costs less than it did in November.”

Jack said, “We must cut back.”

Jill said, “Where’s the VISA?”

Jack said “We’re in a recession.”

Jill said, “No, we’re not.”

Jack said, “How do you know?”

Jill said, “How do you know?”

Jack and Jill went up the hill.

To Wall Street. Plenty of conflicting advice “What do you think?” they asked Lester B. Whatzisname from Someone & Someone Brokerage.

“Prepare for the worst,” he said. “Everything’s collapsing. Sell. Don’t buy. It’s a bear market.”

“What do you think?” they asked Malcolm B. Whozisface from Something & Something Brokerage.

“Good times are ahead,” he said. “Things have turned the corner. Buy all you can. The bull market is coming.”

“What should we buy?” they asked Winthorp B. Idunno, noted financial analyst.

“Gold,” he said. “Commodities. Things you can touch. That’s the only safe way.”

“What should we buy?” they asked John B. Letsguess, another noted financial analyst.

“Bonds,” he said. “Municipal bonds. Stay with paper. That’s the only safe way.”

“What about real estate?” they asked Mortimer P. Ihavenoidea, noted investment expert.

“Excellent choice,” he said. “Real estate is cheap now. Buy as much as you can.”

“What about real estate?” they asked Thomas P. Whatchaskingmefor, another noted investment expert.

“Real estate?” he said. “Are you crazy? Don’t you see what’s happening in New York and California? Forget real estate. Sell what you have.”

Soon they were more confused than before. Every analyst touted something different. One said Europe. Another said Asia. One said pork bellies. Another said wheat. One said oil would go up. Another said oil would come down.

Jack said, “Maybe we should just keep our money in the savings account.”

Jill said, “Are you kidding? With all the savings and loans going out of business?”

“But we’re in a recession.”

“No, we’re not.”

“How do you know?’

“How do you know?”

Jack and Jill went down the hill.

To the bank.

And this is what they did . . . Either way, experts profit Jack took all the money and bought a bar of solid gold.

Jill traded the gold for a plot of lakefront property.

Jack sold the lakefront property and bought 10 municipal bonds.

Jill sold the bonds and bought a European Emerging Fund.

Jack sold the Europe fund and bought futures in pork bellies.

Jill sold the pork bellies and bought a condo.

Jack sold the condo and bought over-the-counter stocks.

Jill sold the stocks and bought a CD.

Jack cashed the CD and came home.

And when they looked, they were shocked. All they had left was 94 cents. The commissions had eaten away their money.

“You know,” said Jack, rubbing his chin, “All those investment experts made money — whether they were right or wrong — as long as we made transactions.”

“Yeah,” said Jill, “they just scraped off their percentage. No wonder they kept telling us to buy and sell things.”

Jack sighed. “It’s because we’re in a recession.”

“No, we’re not,” said Jill.

“How do you know?”

“How do you know?”

Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water — because they had no money and nothing to eat. They were smarter now. They learned a lot. After all that experience, they finally understood the principles of economics
— at least as well as the experts.

“Look,” said Jack, “the pail is half-empty.”

“Half-full,” said Jill.

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