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The cooptation of Ben Bernank-ee, by Hank Paulson

September 20, 2010

There are strange things done in the midnight lull
By the men who moil with Federal Funds
The banking trails have their secret tales
that would make your blood run dull
Our Modern Times have seen queer lights
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the verge of the Great Meltdown
I coopted Ben Bernank-ee.

Now Ben Bernanke was from MIT, where the tech blooms and blows
Why he left his home in the South to roam ‘round the school, God only knows
He was always frugal, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he’d often say in his homely way that he’d “sooner live in hell”.

On a Spring Break Day we were pushing our way over the DC trail.
Talk of your gold! through the Bear Stern’s fold it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we’d close, then the shares froze till sometimes we couldn’t see;
It wasn’t much fun, but the only one to whimper was Ben Bernank-ee.

And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes behind the show,
The logs were mounting at the Fed, and the stars o’erhead were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and “Hank,” says he, “I’ll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I’m asking that you won’t refuse my last request.”

Well, he seemed so low that I couldn’t say no; then he says with a sort of moan:
“It’s the cursed gold, and it’s got right hold till I’m chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet ’tain’t the debt — it’s my awful dread of the deflation grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you’ll coopt the Fed’s last remains.”

A pal’s last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the chair, and he raved all day of his home at MIT;
And before nightfall a CD swap was all that was left of Ben Bernank-ee.

There wasn’t a breath in that land of default, and I hurried, horror-driven,
With a corpse half hid that I couldn’t get rid, because of a promise given;
It was lashed on the Bear, and it seemed to say: “You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it’s up to you to coopt those last remains.”

Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were numb, in my heart how I cursed that road.
In the long, long night, by the lone computer light, while the creditors, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless CDOs — O God! how I loathed the thing.

And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
And on I went, though the dough was spent and the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in;
And I’d often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.

Till I came to the verge of the Great Meltdown, and a derelict Lehman lay;
It was jammed in a bind, but I saw in a trice it was called the “Debtors Won’t Pay”.
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked like frozen shark;
Then “Here”, said I, with a sudden cry, “is my High Water Mark.”

Some planks I tore from the White House floor, and I lit the boiler fire;
Some TARPs I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared, and the furnace roared — such a blaze you seldom see;
And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Ben Bernanke.

Then I made a hike, for I didn’t like to hear him sizzle so;
And the heavens scowled, and the tax-payers howled, and the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don’t know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.

I do not know how long on that road I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: “I’ll just take a peep inside.
I guess he’s cooked, and it’s time I looked”;. . . then the door I opened wide.

And there sat Ben, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the Fed Fund roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: “Please close that door.
It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the Great Cold —
Since I left Cambridge, up at the University, it’s the first time I’ve been ‘in control’.”

There are strange things done in the midnight lull
By the men who moil with Federal Funds
The banking trails have their secret tales
that would make your blood run dull
Our Modern Times have seen queer lights
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the verge of the Great Meltdown
I coopted Ben Bernank-ee.

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