Saturday, June 30, 2018

Installment 8.2: A visit from the Deep State

Chaz Bona-Brown was annoyed as Xiaopei (aka, Charlie) Liu droned on-and-on.  Bona-Brown's attention span had never been his strongest trait.

Bona-Brown had only the vaguest of ideas as to what Liu did.  Bona-Brown was offended when Liu suggest that he attend a dinner meeting in the Bay Area.  The last thing Bona-Brown wanted to do was to listen to a bunch of old duffers at a Rotary Club.

Bona-Brown countered by having his administrative assistant say that Liu could be squeezed into an early morning appointment in Sacramento.  Much to Bona-Brown's surprise Liu showed up at 7:30 AM.  That was a bit awkward as Bona-Brown was still in bed and Liu was left waiting in the un-air conditioned waiting room for an hour and twenty minutes.  Bona-Brown thought it was all to the good; nothing more clearly demonstrates how busy one is and how important than to have others wait for them.

It took Bona-Brown twenty minutes of Liu's presentation to deduce that Liu wanted a loan.  Money flowing the other direction was so foreign to Bona-Brown's world view that he interrupted.

“You mean you need a loan?” Bona-Brown ask, brows furrowed.

“Not just a loan.  We need access to Cali's reserves of hard currency.” Liu corrected.

“No fucking way.” Bona-Brown exclaimed.

“Beg your pardon?” Liu asked, surprised.

“No fucking way.  That just is not the way it works.”  Bona-Brown said.  “I need those reserves to rebuild my military.  Not only can you not have access, you need to double the taxes you are paying.”

Being a technical weenie to his very marrow, Liu felt compelled to correct what he saw as a technical misunderstanding.  “Well, actually, it is done.  Spirochete traded $75 billion, US dollars, for stock options.”

“Why the hell would he have done that?” raged Bona-Brown.  He was finding that running the government single-handedly was more than he could handle.

Liu sighed.  He was going to have to try to explain international economics to a moron.  “Analysts across Cali made some good investments that unexpectedly turn sour.  Collectively, we had 30 days to generate the equivalent of $100 Billion USD.  Spirochete facilitated that fund raising.”

“You still didn't answer the question.  You guys are worth trillions of callors.  Why didn't put on your big-boy pants and pay your debts.?” Bona-Brown challenged.

“The problem is that our net worth is calculated in callors.  The only ways we have to raise that kind of hard currency in that time-frame would tank all of our foreign operations.  As you know, our foreign generated business is a major source of Cali foreign reserves.  'Putting on our big-boy pants' as you called it would kill the goose that lays golden least that is the way that Spirochete saw it.” Liu explained.

“Ok, that is water over the road.” Bona-Brown said.  “Why are you back wanting more?”

Liu grimaced.  “After we had to cover the first wave of derivatives we reviewed the contracts we have on the books and found we had continued exposure to rising Cali bonds.  A second wave of options triggered earlier this week when interest rates closed above 12%.  The third wave triggers at 16% and that one is a potential tsunami due to the enormous payouts.”

“We still have the problem of generating the hard currency with this wave and I wanted to get with you to confirm that you are taking appropriate steps to build the world's confidence in the callor.” Liu said.

Bona-Brown bristled.  He always felt like he was back in elementary school and getting sternly lectured when he heard 'appropriate steps.'  Suddenly belligerent, he asked “What do you mean, 'appropriate steps'?”

“Mostly it means not spending money you don't have.  Stop burning through foreign reserves by buying weapons systems.” Charlie said.

“The rebel military activity shattered our infrastructure and the market knows we will have to go into hock to fix that.  They are hyper-sensitive about any signs of us using ‘borrowed’ money for luxuries like beefing up the military.” Liu continued.

"Not fixing the infrastructure is not an option.  Commutes and delivery routes that used to take thirty minutes now take four hours...or more.  We don't have the trucks, the fuel or the drivers to sustain that kind of non-value-added time-sink." Liu said.

“Make a show of negotiating with the Southern Cali rebels.  You don't have to give them anything but give the appearance of moving toward some kind of peace.  Stay off TV and look like you are doing your job.” Liu said.  He thought everything he requested was perfectly reasonable.  Unfortunately, it was like waving a red flag in front of a bull.

“Wait one fucking minute you pencil-necked eunuch.” Bona-Brown had just learned what a ‘eunuch’ was and was delighted to have a chance to show it off. “That money is mine to spend.  You work for me, not the other way around.” Bona-Brown said. 

Charlie Liu was a virtual god in his own domain.  Universities competed to give him honorary degrees.  Professors bowed to his wisdom and vision.  He was revered by his employees.  The consortium that he was the mouthpiece for was populated by titans of industry who were virtual clones of Xiaopei Liu.  They were educated, accomplished, professional, successful and as proud as Lucifer.

Liu had not been humiliated like this since he was eleven years old and his father had publicly chastised him for braking window panes in a neighbor's greenhouse.

Liu bit his lip as Bona-Brown ranted for a full fifteen minutes.

“You made your own messes.  You are going to clean up your own messes.  Not only that, but you are going to buckle down and start paying your fair share and support my war.” Bona-Brown said, winding down. “Have I made myself clear?”

"That won't work." Liu said, manfully trying to bring this meeting to a successful conclusion.  "Our economy is like a gas turbine.  Thousands of parts moving faster than the speed of sound.  Tens of thousands of clearances finer than a human hair.  You cannot just yank, and hack and hammer precision equipment into a higher level of performance.  It does not work that way." Liu explained.

"Listen, you son-of-a-bitch," Bona-Brown shouted, his face a brilliant red, "I just gave you your fucking marching orders.  IS. THAT. CLEAR."

“As clear as crystal, sir.” Liu bit out.

“Rest assured,” Charlie said “that I will do whatever needs to be done and I will now do it willingly and gladly.”

“You may go.” Bona-Brown said with a causal wave of his hand.  The rant had been cathartic, almost orgasmic for him.  Mercurial mood-shifts were a Bona-Brown character trait.

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