Rogue Trader: Happy days are here again!

Following the news that recession is now officially impossible, Rogue Trader has obtained a leaked copy of the prestigious Prozac Institute of Financial Optimism's Global Economic Futures Report. The report was commissioned by Robert "Genius" Rubin just before he stepped down as US Treasury Secretary. It outlines the key assumptions underlying his successful stewardship of the US (ie, world) economy.

J Prices: Inflation will continue its downward trend. Zero inflation will be established before the end of the year. Next year, prices will begin to fall substantially and by 2004 suppliers will be paying consumers to take goods off their hands.

J Manufacturing: The application of biotechnology to industrial processes means that by 2006 most goods will be made by "intelligent microbes" which can be programmed to "excrete" motorcars, computers, planes, phones, etc from giant underground petrie dishes.

J Service industries: By 2003 the main economic activity will consist of "being cheerful" and "smiling at people". Nearly everyone will be employed "making people happy", working from home. The remaining few will be economists.

J Workforce: Productivity will increase by 2 billion per cent over the next decade. The typical working year will last three minutes. The rest of the time will be spent sitting next to swimming pools, sipping designer water in environmentally perfect space-stations operated by Virgin and described in the report as being "a bit like CenterParcs".

J The role of state: The superabundance of goods and the advent of instantaneous communication will usher in an era of universal peace and understanding. By 2005 the state will exist to "administer things rather than people". By 2008 it will "wither away" altogether.

For details, y'all drop on by the website at www.rosetintedglasses@spin doctors/

The week's Carolingians ...

CHARLEMAGNE THE GREAT: Founded the Carolingian dynasty. United Europe and crowned himself Holy Roman Emperor. Introduced a single currency, fought the barbarians and Arabs.

PEPIN THE HUNCHBACK: Deputy Emperor of Europe, but didn't exercise power due to superstitious fear of his lumpy, Prescott-like appearance. Let others develop policy to fight barbarians, Arabs, etc.

CHARLES THE BALD: Fell out with the East and Middle Franks (Germans). Then fell out with his hair. Set himself up as King of West Franks (French) then conquered the rest of the Franks. The Jacques Santer of the Middle Ages.

TONY THE TELEGENIC: Crowned himself "The People's Prime Minister". Ruler of Middle England. Superstitious belief that his venerated image could perform miracles. Last week won the Charlemagne Prize for uniting Europe. Catchphrase: "Well, to be perfectly Frank ..."

This week we summarise the interesting bits from `Fortune', the fortnightly fantasy ego massage for would-be big swinging dicks ...

The best sort of car to have is a Lexus, popular with "New-Paradigm Plutocrats, Action-Flick Thespians, Multimedia Freak-Show Athletes and Soccer Moms".

Don't try to buy "communist" underwear in Peking. It is no good and the shop assistants are likely to rudely say "hurry up and pay" if you ask for help.

Etiquette advice for senior managers: "Don't pretend to know who people are. Most of the time you don't know your employees' names. So don't fake it [but] don't forget to say hello to people. It's amazing what a hello from you can do for individuals who have small lives that aren't really progressing towards anything."

Larry Ellison, chief executive at Oracle "pilots his own jet-fighter - an ex-Italian airforce Marchetti", the magazine drools, adding regretfully: "The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms foiled his attempt to import a Russian MiG."

Commodity news: the gripping international soap opera ...

Previously in Commodity News: coffee was feeling depressed, sugar was turning to alcohol, and soya was furious after finding that aluminium was having an affair with palm oil. Lead was feeling cocky, and started hanging around in malls with a gang of over-confident base metals. But saffron was in tears after a bad day on the pepper exchange ... Now read on.

Crude Oil was feeling better after a severe bout of weakness. The suave Brent Futures started a romance with several Softs, who were all feeling better after a European holiday. Aluminium broke up with soya and was feeling energetic at the start of the week. Vietnamese wood was in crisis because the Cambodians were illegally exporting the hard stuff. Cotton was tired of living and scared of dying. But that old man river just keeps rolling along.

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