A Sad, Sorry Song

November 28, 2009

by Thomas McQuade

In looking back over the many excellent posts and comments that have graced ThinkMarkets in its first year, I was struck by the fact that, while many of the literary virtues have been displayed, there has been – surprisingly – nothing that could pass as poetry.  I hope to be forgiven the presumption of attempting to rectify that omission with the following submission, vile doggerel though it may be.

I have a tale to tell, O!  (A sad, sorry tale, O!) …
It is told in the hope there’s no slipp’ry slope
And that prudence can prevail, O!
Tells the cause of a crisis, cruelly cast
Hitting hard-won savings, thought amassed.
It involves good intentions gone astray,
And the misplaced myth that some experts may
By their brains and their brilliance brave the way
To ensure economic ease, O!

I have a tale to tell, O!  (Why such frustrations?) …
It’s the tale of a myth I debunk herewith –
The conceit that regulations
Are a sure-fire fix for faults perceived
And work just exactly as conceived.
Instead they have unforeseen effect
As they interact and redirect
In ways that their authors can’t suspect
To foster financial folly!

I have a tale to tell, O!  (What makes me fret thus?) …
It’s the tale of the bank that we have to thank
For the booms and the busts that beset us.
Mark the mandarins who man the Fed,
Who claim they can clearly call ahead
And invoke any interest rate thought best;
Who can more money make at their own behest
And can know who to help, where to reinvest –
Great gods of the guess, these gurus!

I have a wish to make, O!  (No grant is on offer!) …
It’s to wish we’d abjure the simplistic cure
Politicians promptly proffer;
That we’d understand we must separate
The economy from the grip of State,
So we’d not be conned by a cosy clique,
And big businessmen couldn’t favors seek –
Opportunity for both strong and weak:
It seems such a small thing to ask, O!

Apologies are due to the great W.S. Gilbert for parodying his duet “I have a song to sing, O!” from the opera “The Yeomen of the Guard”.

5 Responses to “A Sad, Sorry Song”

  1. Sandy Ikeda Says:

    Brilliant! And I know the tune well, having once played in the pit orchestra for “Yeomen” many years ago. We can sing this at our next Colloquium gathering — a duet between you and Mario, who will leap into a (money) pit of despair at the end.

  2. Sandy Ikeda Says:


    Hay-dee Hay-dee, Misery me, Lacka-day-lee
    He sipped no sup and he craved no crum
    As he sighed for the flub of Bernanke!

  3. chidemkurdas Says:

    I have a message to post, O!
    It’s the message that we all write doggerel
    To add good humor all around;
    Make it easier to bear,
    Economic woes, bailout blues,
    Politicians’ lies, Fed’s Bubbles.
    Even as we parody T. McQuade,
    And mangle his sad, sorry song.

  4. Thomas McQuade Says:

    Sandy and Chidem: Thanks for the contributions. Perhaps economic doggerel will one day grow into a respected subspecialty, at least among “literary” economists!

  5. chidemkurdas Says:

    You could be founding a new branch of economics, Thomas. Have to find a name for it. Poetic Economics?

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