ContagionEx! Medicine for Sovereign Debt Woes
CNBC.com News Editor
How do you explain the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and how it affects the world?
If you’re Mark Fiore, you liken it to a disease and create an animated commercial for a fictional drug, ContagionEx, to treat it.
Fiore is a Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist-turned-political animator, who tackles all kinds of subjects, from the sovereign debt crisis to the housing crisis and GOP candidate Herman Cain’s famous 9-9-9 tax proposal.
Using a drug ad to tackle a subject like sovereign debt was a no-brainer.
“Drug ads are like a caricature of themselves!” Fiore said. “The actual advertisement is about 5 seconds long and all of the side effects and potential evils go on for like 50 seconds.”
ContagionEx, Fiore said, is like a cross between a drug used to treat Sexually Transmitted Diseases and those to treat the common cold. It should be used to treat STDs — “Sovereign Transmitted Debts.”
“If you think you’ve been exposed to contagious sovereign infection, then ContagionEx is for you!” the voice-over guy says, as the animation opens with rolling green hills and trees and a fluttering butterfly — much like an allergy-medicine commercial.
Fiore says he aims to spark a dialogue with his work. “I’m trying to wade through this material and make a little more sense of it. Make it a little more accessible to people.”
And yet, his work is still smart and amusing to those who understand the subjects.
“Ask your central banker if ContagionEx is right for you!” the announcer says in that sovereign debt cartoon. “In German clinical trials, some bankers have experienced delusions and hallucinations and in some cases, ContagionEx may destroy the very monetary union it is attempting to save.”
Fiore said he gets his ideas from things that he himself doesn’t get.
“I would read articles about credit-default swaps and different devices out there — and I was reading as if I knew what I was reading,” he quipped.
And thus, frog-backed securities were born.
In a piece called, “Hopping Mad,”Fiore explains the financial crisis using neighborhood kids, frogs and rabbit’s feet.
“Look at it this way: Patty buys a frog with a loan from Tommy. Tommy can wait around for years while Patty’s frog money trickles in or he can sell Patty’s frog loan to Billy, who will give him all the money at once. Tommy likes that. Billy buys lots of frog loans around the neighborhood and sells them to rich kids who have extra money,” the voice-over guy explains.
Then it tilts down the slope of the absurd (much like the crisis itself) and along comes a new kid, Davy, who offers to make Billy’s frog-backed securities worth a lot more if Billy rubs his magic rabbit’s foot – at a quarter a pop. Billy agrees and the next thing you know, all the kids selling frog-backed securities in the neighborhood are throwing their quarters at Davy for a chance at that rabbit’s foot and Davy becomes rich. Of course, the market becomes saturated and the whole thing falls apart, prompting a few final questions in that deep announcer voice: “Is this really how the economy works? Was Billy really that stupid? Who will pay for Davy’s deception?”
And the answers are —
“Yes, yes and YOU!”
But wait! Don’t answer yet. You also get this bonus cartoon on the Super Committee. POW! KABLAM! Wha wa wa …