- 1AM, Monday, September 1, 2015: The Hendrickson Home, South Minneapolis
t was after midnight. Lynn was sprawled, asleep, under the covers. Hendrickson puffed an e-cig and smiled.
He thought about all the petty anxieties he usually felt on these insomniac evenings were whittled down. Gone was the usual “what the hell is going on with this country”, or “is my job going to be here tomorrow”, or “is Charlie or is Charlie not on the right track academically”.
No, there was only simple contentment, as Lynn lightly snored next to him – and that, mostly, kept his mind occupied and smiling as he faded off to sleep.
Looks like tomorrow could be pretty decent, for a Monday.
Halfway around the world, it was a busy Monday morning in the London Stock Exchange. Nigel Rawsthorpe, the 41 year old floor manager for Endicotte and Marlborough Pty, Ltd, sent an intern for another cup of tea and looked at the situation, trying in vain to make sense of it.
Field Marshal Li’s “Sell” order on all American government bonds rippled across the world’s fiscal firmament like an electronic tsunami. The Nikkei index opened to a frenzy of sales, and the currency indexes in Tokyo had reacted like a scared cat racing down a strairway. Banks dumped US bonds – and as the bonds plunged, they started ditching the dollar.
Trading in Singapore and Hong Kong had apparently followed suit. And the surge in sales caught the markets in Dubai and Mumbai; with US bonds and dollars being dropped faster than Kim Kardashian’s latest line of perfume, what started as a major sell-off turned into a cataclysm of liquidation, as hedges got pruned down to fiscal stumps.
And as much as other nations had tried to dump the dollar, the world’s currency markets were still tied to the US currency. The Pound, the Euro and the Loonie all were tipping over into freefall, as government efforts to buttress them were undercut; when everyone ran out of US bonds and dollars to unload, they dumped every other government’s bonds and currency too.
As Rawsthorpe watched, idly twisting his stylized handlebar mustache and sipping his oolong, the Yen, the Singapore and Australian Dollars, the Rupee, the Vietnamese Dong - all plunged to single-digit percentages of their values the previous day.
Rawsthorpe called his boss, Edward Bevin-Stoppleford, who was on holiday, fox-hunting in Kent.
“Edward, old chap? Yes, sorry to interrupt your holiday. Bit of a pickle, here; there’s a mass selloff of all the world’s currencies. Yes, old bean, seems nothing is worth anything anymore”.
Rawsthorpe listened as Bevin-Stoppleford’s voice rattled on the other end of the connection. “Well, old bean, the Swiss Franc is holding up, because it’s Swiss”. He paused as Bevin-Stoppleford interjected a muted quite. “And the Ruble is holding its value, which as you know was bloody f**k-all anyway – pardon my Chaucerian digression”. The line chirped with Bevin-Stoppleford’s acknowledgement.
“But it’d seem that all the world’s currencies have come quite the cropper today”, he said, as the trading floor below him fell into polite, tea-stoked pandemonium.
When the US and European markets opened, it was already basically a fait accompli. The dollar was of no worth.
- – 7:30AM, Monday, September 1 2015: The Minnesota Department of Transportation Department Of Statistical Analysis Office of Roadway Measures and Metrics, Central Office, Saint Paul, MN.
Myron Ilktost climbed off the “Green Line” train on Cedar Avenue in Downtown Saint Paul. It’d been a long morning already, like all of Myron Ilktost’s mornings; up at 5AM to make breakfast for he and his wife, then a quick shower and a five block walk to catch the 7 Bus at 6AM. Off the bus at 6:25 to get on the Green Line train to Saint Paul. Then, the hour on the Green Line train through the Midway to Fourth and Cedar, and a four block walk to a nondescript, thirties-era office building that had laid mostly dormant and empty since the seventies, until various offices were rented out by various state agencies.
Ilktost walked in off the street, unnoticed by everyone around him, his rumpled raincoat unneeded in the late-summer heat. He punched the elevator button to go up to the 13th floor, to begin another day of his job.
For 24 years, Ilktost had been the man who received the forms that came in from the people who managed the road sensors the MNDOT had placed around the state – the cables that stretched across roads counting road traffic in selected areas. Ilktost’s job; take the incoming reports, collate them, enter them into the MNDOT-DOSA-ORMAM’s ’1970′s era mainframe database, and file them for future use by regional transit authorities. When the regional transit authorities needed raw data to help drive transportation capital expenditures, Ilktost was the man who’d find the data – after the request had been received, classified, prioritized and ordered by several layers of bureaucrats above him.
Ilktost got off the elevator at precisely 7:30, as he did nearly every morning. And he went to the door as he did every morning, his security badge at the end of his extended lanyard, swiping the badge reader, waiting for the usual “beep” of the door opening.
The beep never came.
Looking at the floor, he swiped the badge again. No beep.
He swiped it again. And again. And again. And again. He looked at the card-reader; the little red light was not shining. He swiped it again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again.
Still no beep.
Finally, Ilktost looked up at the door. There was a 8.5×11 inch piece of laser-printed paper.
MNDOT-DOSA-ORMAM Closed Untel Furthur Notes
Do too money being werthless
Ilktost stood, reading the sign, over and over, idly swiping his security badge a few dozen times as he read, and re-read, the scrap of paper.
- 8:35 AM, September 1, 2015: Offices of “Claimtech LLC”, Downtown Minneapolis
Hendrickson was nursing a cup of coffee when an urgent email popped up on his screen at 8:32 AM. “Suspend All Government Contracts”.
As he moved his mouse to open it, his cell phone buzzed. It was Lynn.
“Paul? They’re shutting down the school!”
“They say the dollar’s no good, so there’s no way to pay for any of the school’s operations. Apparently the entire government is shutting down”.
Hendrickson was aware that his head was swimming. The government is shutting down?
“I’m headed home”, said Lynn, almost more as a question than a statement.
“Yeah”, said Paul, opening the email, which was even sketchier on details.
He opened a browser to “The Drudge Report”. There was a siren at the top of the page.
BONDS AT ZERO!
DOLLAR WORTHESS IN HELL DEVALUATION!
GOVERNMENT SHUT DOWN!.
Over to Hot Air. Allahpundit wrote “Dollar To Nil: What Could Go Wrong?”
Hendrickson shook his head and tried to start making heads or tails of the situation.
It didn’t work.
- 9:54 AM, September 1, 2015: Dripping With Irony Coffee Shop, South Minneapolis MN
Oz Streachan walked up to the counter, slowly picking a knot out of his ZZ Top beard. Frena Marquette stepped over to him.
“Hey, Oz”, Frena said, flipping a lock of her dyed-jet-black bangs out of her eye. “Have you heard the news?”
Streachan shook his head. “You know I never read, watch or listen to the corporatist media”.
“I know”, said Marquette with an excited lilt in her voice. “But the government – it shut down!”
Streachan nodded. “Cool. Can I have a grande mocchiato?”
“For here or to go?”
“Do you have wi-fi?”
“It’s broken”, Marquette averred.
“To go, then”.