Vol. 2, Issue 20, May 18, 2004
Cicadas Declared Legal Tender to Boost Economy
In a surprising move, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan announced to Congress yesterday that, rather than change interest rates, he had authorized the use of cicadas as currency to give the economy a quick boost.
In his testimony before the Congress Joint Economic Committee on May 17, Greenspan said that "the Federal funds rate (which is currently 1 per cent) must rise at some point to prevent pressures on price inflation from eventually emerging. But at this point we believe a strong infusion of cicada-based currency is a more appropriate intervention."
Much of the Eastern United States is currently experiencing an onslaught of cicadas, which are big, red-eyed, flying insects. While there are several kinds, this particular brood emerges every 17 years for about six weeks to fly around, mate, lay eggs and die. Billions, and possibly trillions, of the harmless insects are making their presence known with their shrill mating calls as more and more emerge from their long slumber. Although they neither sting nor bite, their large size and clumsy flying can be alarming to many.
Under the terms announced by Greenspan, each cicada has been accorded a value of one dollar, resulting in billions of dollars literally emerging from the ground to bolster the flagging economy.
"Due to their distinctive appearance, we are not concerned about counterfeiting," added Greenspan, "and by the time they expire we anticipate that the economy will be quite robust again."
Reaction in the financial world was decidedly mixed.
"In the first place, there is really no precedent for introducing a life form as currency on this scale, although there were some state currencies which used livestock under the Articles of Confederation in the late 1700s," said Motley Fool financial analyst Chip DuQuesne. "Admittedly, the sudden announcement, combined with the ready availability of the cicadas, makes counterfeiting unlikely. But I cannot see anyone carrying a pocketful of these things to go buy a stereo or something. Besides, how do you give change with cicadas? If one bug is a dollar, does that mean a wing is a dime?"
Because cicadas will be difficult to store and use in large quantities, and because wealthy people are unlikely to traipse around scooping insects into bags for any reason, it is anticipated that the newfound wealth will largely benefit working class Americans who will use them for minor purchases.
"This is exactly the kind of outside the box thinking we need," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. "We applaud Mr. Greenspan for his inventive approach to putting dollars back into American pockets, and deplore the attempts of the liberal media to portray this as an election-year gambit."
The cicadas will remain valid currency as long as they are alive, meaning citizens must use their newfound wealth relatively soon, before the insects die.
"Wish I'd known that before," grimaced Cincinnati resident Vernon Stokes, who had just finished trying to cram a cicada into the coin slot of a vending machine. "Guess I should get the rest of these guys out of my wallet too."