Galloping inflation, running bears and a lot of bull

Gyan C. A. Fernando relates how a family game of Monopoly turned into economic chaos!

Any family card game or board game that we undertake in our household has a tendency to descend into chaos. Most blame me of course and accuse me of cheating, which I don’t, but I do admit that I have a tendency to bend the rules.

Match me against my niece Samanmalee, aka Sam (pretty, 35+), and things become totally mired. For a start, Sam has a broadband brain combined with a 100 gigahertz clock speed, plus a loud mouth. She can also turn her charm on and off rapidly to suit the circumstances.

The other day, we were all at a loose end and decided to play a game of Monopoly to pass the time.

I am sure you know this game. A couple of dice are rolled and off you go, ending up on different squares which gives you instruction such as “Buy” or “Go straight to jail” etc. There is of course Monopoly money and a Banker.

The thing about Monopoly is that the official rules are open-ended, allowing you to modify the rules or make up new rules as you go along. For instance, instead of “go to jail” you could “pay a bribe” as is normal in some countries. This makes the game exciting.

It was Sam’s idea to play Monopoly and cleverly pre-empting her crooked ploys, I took the precaution of printing more money. Rather simple! All you need is a scanner and an ink-jet printer. Governments do that regularly at times of economic depression.

At the start of the game I firmly announced my intention of being The Banker and in charge of the Central Bank. As anticipated, Sam raised furious objections.

“Uncle! You can’t even count, let alone add!” she said in her usual non-subtle manner. Her statement about my mathematical abilities was basically true, but Sam had ulterior motives. She wanted to be in the position of power. “Sorry Darling! But I am the oldest here and I insist,” I said with considerable dignity. “No you can’t!” “Yes, I can!” “No! You can’t” can can’t can can’t can etc.

I won that round, but only briefly.
International Monetary Fraud…er…Fund!

In a surprise move that caught me wrong-footed, Sam then immediately appointed herself as the IMF!
As you probably already know, the IMF stands for the International Monetary Fund. Based in Washington DC, it is a busybody American organization which dictates to poor countries on how they should spend their money. As far as I was concerned, Sam’s self-appointment was an ominous development in the game! The others thought differently and approved Sam’s strategy: that of keeping me under control and subject to audit and accountability.

Sam’s next move was to forcibly appropriate half the reserves of my “Central Bank of Gyan” as a collateral, whatever that means. Sam had a smug smile on her face with her mouth stretching from one ear to the other.

My immediate reaction would have been to produce my recently printed money to fill my coffers but something told me to hold back.

“All right Darling! Two can play this game!” I said to myself, sotto voce. Immediately and dramatically, I applied for an IMF loan! So there! I managed to wipe the smile off her face, but only briefly. With a smirk she offered me two billion at an interest rate of 5%. I contested this, referring to the IMF as the “Ugly American” and was pleased to see that the other players were supportive of me. Under pressure the IMF buckled-in and reduced the interest rate to 0.5%. Ahhh! Victory at last! Viva la victoriapor siempre!

The game proceeded fast and furiously. My sister and others recklessly bought a lot of hotels and other property, in Mayfair and other salubrious parts of London, borrowing heavily from the Central Bank. I myself acquired Liverpool Street Station and other railway property. I asked for the promised IMF loan, which was granted grudgingly by Sam, and I filled up my coffers.

About this time Sam had to “go to jail”. Ha! Ha! Ha! I laughed! I rapidly moved in to confiscate her property and oust her from the IMF but in a brilliant contra-move she threatened to bring a Fundamental Rights Petition against me. I backed off. The game resumed. The situation was tense. There was an on-going stand-off between myself and the IMF. The IMF wanted to devalue my currency after having converted her hoard to hard currency. I was on my second beer and my judgement was getting sharper, but some might say clouded.


Unfortunately, I forgot to claw-back some of the money that I was lending. I was also using Central Bank resources to buy property for myself and also running a pyramid scheme. I did not see anything wrong in that!

Central Bank resources were now running dangerously low. I immediately applied for another IMF loan. Sam refused, charged me with corruption and misappropriation, and countered by asking for repayment of the previous loan. The other players, predictably, switched sides and supported Sam the IMF. I was dangerously cornered. Loyalties were changing by the second. Sam was smiling one of her enigmatic smiles.

In an attempt to claw back some of my losses, I immediately raised taxes on all property and other holdings, except on those held by the Bank. My sister viciously kicked my shin under the table with a cry of “Ha!?” and Sam uttered a loud and sibilant “Pissssh!!!!!!!” like a snake.

I now had a full-blown revolution on my hands which was fully backed by the IMF. I was being pressurized to buy-back. There was a major run on the Bank. The IMF threatened economic sanctions against the Bank. I had my back to the wall. I panicked!

In sheer desperation I topped up my coffers with the ink-jet printed money. The IMF immediately grabbed a suspect banknote and dramatically dipped it in my beer.

The ink-jet colours ran!
The IMF exposed me as a fraud. I raised objections but to no avail. I had lost!
El fugitivo! Mustering all the dignity that I could muster under the circumstances, I collected all the money I could get my hands on.

With a Teledrama-type, slow, withering glance at Sam, I announced that I have hidden personal reserves in a Swiss Bank in Monopoly money and in El Banco Nacional de Bolivia in Bolivars. Bolivars and Monopoly money are on a par, by the way.

I drained my beer in one gulp and announced that I was leaving the country!
“Bye Uncle!” said the IMF sweetly and with a lop-sided smile.

Maybe Bolivia might appreciate my talents and offer me asylum! The Bolivians are used to this sort of thing.

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