Thursday, July 17, 2008

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae: and YOU thought YOU had financial problems?

Admittedly, I’m not an expert on economic issues, even though for the last 15 years I’ve been “religiously” subscribing to The Economist (and more often than not, I do skip the business/economic section as it bores me to no end!), so I’m not one to be in the greatest position to judge what is currently going on in America vis-à-vis mortgages and financial institutions such as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, especially since I live in Italy.

Something a wee bit closer to home though I do understand, such as in the case of our lovely ladies “of the night”, that small army of hookers (or is it more politically correct to say “prostitutes”?) who are also beginning to feel the oil crunch at +150 dollars a barrel: in the Veneto region of Italy, located in the north-eastern part of the country (where Venice and Verona are to be found), about 200 foreign hookers in the area which goes from Mestre (located near Venice) and Treviso (home to the rich Benetton family) have noticed lately a slump in “sales”, given perhaps that many clients show up not on bikes or motorcycles but cars, and with gas in Italy at OVER 1.50 a litre, well, business has been rather slow with perhaps many clients preferring to stay home with their wives/ girlfriends or some quality porn DVDs.

The free-spirited ladies (void of any pimps by the way) have come up with an ingenious method of helping those poor clients who have been hit hard in their wallets by the current economic situation in Italy: “Buy four and pay for three”! Yes, what the ladies have done is prepared tiny hearts made of red cloth with their names written on them. Every time a client uses a hooker’s service, he’s awarded a red heart. Once he’s reached 3 hearts, the 4th encounter is “on the house”! Yes, even the world’s oldest profession is facing the economic crisis!

Clients are especially overjoyed at this new entrepreneurial endeavour and the hookers themselves don’t seem to mind as business is “up and rising” (excuse the pun!) once again. Those who aren’t so happy are the folks who live in the areas that are frequented by clients and hookers: their initial protests to have the hookers moved away from residential neighbourhoods where they pose a nuisance was initially effective, until the red hearts popped into the equation.

The Marghera area (where the major industrial companies are located just near Venice) have come up with something slightly different, much to the chagrin of police authorities: there, pimps have imposed on their ladies discounts for clients: instead of 50 Euros for the “works” hookers are now allowed to charge their clients 45 Euros with that 5 Euro discount making all the difference, especially in run-down areas.

Given that red is traditionally THE colour of Christmas, I wonder what hookers will come up with for the upcoming winter season (seeing that environmental conservation is now on everyone’s mind lately): one free plastic Christmas tree with every sexual encounter?