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Post details: The City of London Olympics

The City of London Olympics

(Limping Duck Press Agency)

Ladies and gentlemen, sporting fans, channel surfers, Olympic fiends, esteemed couch potatoes - good afternoon to all of you from the Wembley Stadium in London where we'll soon be witnessing the world premiere of a new Olympic discipline - the free style money printing. As you might imagine, the inclusion of this extreme sport in the Olympic program was no easy battle. After all, the Olympic Committee is well known for its conservative stance in accepting new sports - just consider that among this year's rejects we can find such popular pastimes as arms wrestling, tax evasion, running with the bulls, cross country dishwasher smuggling and synchronized pancake flipping. However, the recent epic events in the financial world convinced the executive members that the world's top money printers deserve to have an opportunity to flex their muscles in the Olympic ring.

The preliminary rounds were fierce and highly competitive. And delivered a couple of surprises, too. Carlos Rodriguez, the deputy Treasury of the Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas, unexpectedly qualified from the second semifinal in which he outprinted the Head of the National Bank of Switzerland, although some tabloids later alleged that he used stacks of pre-printed bills concealed in the lining of his jacket. Mr Rodriguez is known in British sporting circles as an international ace in the closely related discipline of Money Laundering, but his occasional counterfeiting side jobs gave him enough expertise to oust his worthy Swiss opponent and secure the placement among the best of the contemporary money printing. This elite group is formed by Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Mervyn King representing the Bank of England, Mario Draghi, who will be printing for the European Union, and finally Masaaki Shirakawa, the weathered governor of the Bank of Japan.

Only few minutes are remaining to the start and the participants are already warming up on the pitch. Mr Bernanke is diligently working the crank of an old rotary drum borrowed from the New York Times museum, Mr Draghi churns up crisp duplicates of the Bikini Quarterly centerfold on his personal laser printer and Mr King walks around the field with palms covering his ears and mutters under his breath "CTRL-P, CTRL-P". On the other end of the training area, seemingly lost in his inner world, Mr Shirakawa creates colorful imprints of cranes and monkeys with a set of children's rubber stamps. Sitting on an empty H/P box to his right, Mr Rodriguez is quietly munching on a Snickers bar and maintains a focused if a bit gloomy expression on his face.

The honor of starting today's inaugural race falls to Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe for his lifetime achievement in the field of runaway money printing. Mr Mugabe is already on the pitch and waiting for his starting pistol... Wait a minute, something is afoot. One of his bodyguards just literally pounced on the official who was approaching Mugabe with the ceremonial pistol and knocked him down on the ground. This must be be some kind of a misunderstanding. I see a minor confusion on the field. It appears that Mr Mugabe's security team just gave a new meaning to the phrase "jump the gun". OK, everything seems in order now, apologies are being offered... Mr Mugabe gingerly raises his doubly inspected pistol and - bang! - ladies and gentlemen - the race is on.

All five finalists have briskly approached their printers and copiers and got right down to business. There were a couple of elbow clashes at the start, a few seconds may have been lost here and there as several central bankers were a bit flustered about the location of the ON switch, but now the field of contestants has spread over the whole pitch and newly printed dollars started flying off the printing presses like it's 2009. As far as I can see, Japan seems to have the upper hand in this initial phase. The country's long tradition in money printing gives Mr Shirakawa an obvious edge and his Sony remote control makes absolutely no mistakes so far.

Carlos Rodriguez, who had been visibly falling behind, made several attempts to distract other players on the field. He was whistling cheap tunes from gold commercials, calling Mr Draghi very unpublishable names to his face and throwing spare change at Mr Bernanke's back. To add insult to injury, he used Canadian currency. No wonder he was reprimanded by the head umpire. Other than this the race has upheld high standards of fair play so far. Oh, so far indeed, I am sorry to report now that a deplorable and distinctly unolympic incident has just taken place. Carlos has really done it this time! Right in front of our cameras, he tried to ram a pair of hair curlers - probably stolen from the hotel - into Mr King's smoothly functioning printer and for that he is being sent off the field. Mr Rodriguez, in the Mexican underworld also known as the Goon from the Lagoon, is escorted out of the arena and the race will continue without him.

The mood in the stadium is gradually heating up. The prominent London bankers in the front rows are rooting for their own, chanting "in-fla-tion, in-fla-tion" in unison and looking forward to the flood of jolly liquidity which will soon buoy their institutional trading accounts. In the cheaper seats, however, the elation stumbles. The common Londoners who do not have their wealth stashed in inflation protected assets are looking considerably paler. Many are worried about the loss of purchasing power caused by the freshly printed money and some are quietly calculating how much they'll have to shell out for food and gas in the weeks to come.

Meanwhile elsewhere in the stadium, an interesting development is taking place. For a race of this duration and intensity one cannot expect the printer cartridges to last longer than several minutes. So here - in the middle of the race - one by one, the finalists have to push their equipment into the depot where it is immediately being surrounded by a team of highly trained mechanics. After a few seconds of a flitting commotion - a scene reminiscent of silent movies - the cartridges are replaced and the printers ready for more action. This well rehearsed and seamless operation would certainly impress even the most discerning Formula One aficionados.

We are rolling into the second half and the Japanese leader is slowly loosing his monetary steam. Ben and Mario, on the other hand, have found their rhythm and proceed now in a smooth robotic fashion. The moves of these remarkable financial athletes became well planned and highly efficient - perhaps even resembling interpretive dance from some distance. Their thumbs keep hitting the Print button with lethal frequency and surgical precision. It is clear that years of texting Timothy Geithner are finally paying off.

Oh, too bad now. Mr King, whose repaired printer was doing so well that he worked himself into the third position, is signaling to his support that he's got a bad case of a printer jam. Deeply frustrated Mervyn is walking around his machine and kicking it tentatively in several critical places. We see him opening the plastic cover and tinkering with the mechanisms inside. Our online microphones are picking up his call to the the service center as well as its prompt and courteous response: "If you are calling about opening a new account, please press or say 1; if you would like to report a problem with the current installation, please, press or say 2". But, rather surprisingly, Mr King is not pressing or saying 2. He appears to be tossing his mobile phone far into the stands and storming off the pitch almost simultaneously.

The race is now approaching its home stretch and the leading printers are literally drowning in their own money. Clearing it is obviously the key to success here. And we have to say that the Mediterranean crew of Mr Draghi is doing far superior job in removing the new bills from his printer's vicinity. Especially the Greek and Spanish sweepers have no problem disposing of any new funds that come within their reach. No problemo, senor. Mr Bernanke appears a bit overwhelmed at this point and clearly trails behind even though... - wait - oh my goodness - ladies and gentlemen, this is a game changer - crikey! - a formation of helicopters is now descending onto the field and loading up piles upon piles of Mr Bernanke's new money. Unbelievable! And Ben immediately uses this freed up space as an excuse to increase the volume on his beloved turbo-charged Canon from "post-lehman" setting to "pre-spain".

What a finish! This is getting more thrilling by the second. Bernanke takes off his double breasted suit, rolls up his sleeves and embarks on what I can only describe as a printing concert. Nay, this not money printing any more. This is money sprinting, ladies and gentlemen. The crowds are ecstatic, the pace is nearly suicidal. Bill after bill, Mario's lead is diminishing and the finish ribbon is within reach. The present financiers are squealing with excitement and American spectators are cheering their man on with deafening "Q-E! Q-E! Q-E!". Queen Elizabeth, unsure to whom the ovations belong, raises slightly from her seat in the Royal Loge and makes a non-committal bow in their general direction.

In the breathtaking photo finish Ben Bernanke snatches the gold, when his last one hundred dollar bill is shown to be just a tad more extended from the printing tray than Mario Draghi's. Yes, it is official now! The barbaric relic goes to Team USA, EU is left with the silver and Japan takes the bronz. Messrs. Blankfein and Dimon are patting each other on the shoulder of their pin striped suits and their shining faces are sending a big thank you onto the field. On a darker note, an unidentified man wearing an Occupy Wall Street t-shirt has just attempted to throw a bundle of home made tortillas into the VIP sector. He is now being handcuffed by the local police and loaded into a security van. No connection to Los Zetas has been established at this time.

And that's a wrap, ladies and gentlemen.


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