How many metaphors can be squeezed in a single text? The story that follows is completely fictitious and should not be considered as an economic nor market analysis or forecast.

The answers are shown at the end of the text.

Two friends sit on a beach somewhere on the French Atlantic coast, enjoying the sun and sipping a drink. It’s late afternoon. They’ve known each other for years, back to their days in university, quite some time ago. Cars, wine and money rank high in their preferred topics of conversation.

P: my portfolio has been having a good run as of late. How about yours?

J: I can’t complain. The quality of my stocks could be better but then a rising tide lifts all boats.

P: indeed. That’s why I was happy not to sell my emerging markets holdings after Trump got elected last year

J: fair point though the sky is less cloudy over there than it used to be, so that helps

P: yep, but not as blue as over here.

J: one wonders where the clouds will come from

P: too early to worry, it ain’t over until it’s over

J: you’re right. The planets still look very much aligned. By the way, I’d fancy another drink. How about you?

P: I join you. Better enjoy one now before the bartenders take the punchbowl away.

J: that would be a shame. They’re doing such a good job in making cocktails.

P goes to the beach bar and gets back with two cocktails.

P: there you are (hands over a glass to his friend). There was this American guy at the bar, making lots of noise.

J: about what?

P: apparently he bought a Ferrari with what he made by investing in tech stocks. He was very exuberant about it

J: irrationally exuberant I’d say looking at Wall Street

In the meantime it’s past 6PM and music starts playing. People gather around the bar, some start dancing. Our two friends join the party. Quite a bit later, P’s mobile phone flashes: his wife K, an amateur painter, is calling.

P: darling, how’s your day been? Did you finish that lovely painting you started a long time ago?

K (on speaker phone): almost. I virtually spent the entire day on it

J: hi K. Do you seriously mean you stayed inside the entire day with such great weather outside?

P (to his wife): J is right. You should enjoy the sun as well. Watching paint dry can be a very boring process, no action. Better jump in the pool and have a swim.

J: or even better, join us at the beach

K: but it’s almost eight o’clock

P: I know it’s late in the day, but the music is still playing so I want to dance. It’s not too late to join the party.

K joins her husband and J. They have a great time and after a barbecue end the evening around midnight with a walk along the beach.

P: there’s quite a bit of dirt left behind now that the crowd has gone. Somebody even lost his swimming trunks.

J: hopefully there weren’t too many people around. Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.

Answers and background:

  1. “a rising tide lifts all boats”: a phrase attributed to John F Kennedy
  2. “it ain’t over until it’s over”: phrase used by baseball legend Yogi Berra in 1973
  3. “The planets still look very much aligned”: very often used in Europe when the Eurozone growth started to pick up in 2015 on the back of a variety of factors
  4. “before the bartender takes the punchbowl away”: inspired by former Federal Reserve chairman William McChesney Martin who argued that the role of the Federal Reserve is to take the punchbowl away just as the party gets going
  5. “irrationally exuberant”: used by Alan Greenspan in December 1996 (“But how do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values, which then become subject to unexpected and prolonged contractions as they have in Japan over the past decade”; source: Federal Reserve)
  6. “Watching paint dry”: recently used by Janet Yellen when talking about the gradual reduction of the size of the balance of the Federal Reserve whereby she wanted to indicate that this should be a long, smooth process
  7. “the music is still playing so I want to dance”: Citigroup CEO Chuck Prince made this statement in July 2007, acknowledging that asset valuations were high but that the economy was doing fine so his bank hadn’t pulled out of providing loans for private equity operations
  8. “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked”: this comes from Warren Buffett meaning that intrinsic value will appear when liquidity becomes less abundant.