Sfogliatelle Index Crashes, Deepening Economy's Woes

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Are you scared? Really scared? Has the incessant media drumbeat convinced you that economic doom is as certain as being buried under a ten foot snow drift from the snowstorm of the century bearing down on your city right now (News at Eleven)!

Well, things just got worse.

Friday night I witnessed a sight that chilled me deeper than the global warming-induced freeze that has settled over New England. Strolling Boston’s historic North End, home to the finest Italian restaurants in the Bay State, I ducked into Mike’s Pastry ready to use my secret locals’ trick to bypass the clamoring crowd, and instead walked right up to the counter and bought a sfogliatelle. (For those sad few who have never experienced this sweet-cheese crunchy delight, it’s pronounced sfol-j'ah-TEL-e.)

I walked right up to the counter! At Mike’s Pastry, second in fame only to the Old North Church where Paul Revere espied his lanterns! I didn’t have to do that neat trick of slinking along the left past the clueless mob until I could catch the eye of a harried server always ready to conspire with a patron who actually knows what he wants. Mike’s Pastry, from which a steady flow of little white bakery boxes emanates like a mighty river one can follow back upstream anytime from anywhere in the city.

I was so dumfounded when not one but two servers asked me what I wanted I could barely blurt out “two sfogliatelle with powdered sugar” before forking over all the singles in my wallet and beating a panicked retreat.

Don’t worry about the Producer Price Index, the National Purchasing Managers Index, the Consumer Confidence Index, or the Durable Goods Order Report.

The Sfogliatelle Index has hit the skids!

After a sleepless night I was encouraged by early morning reports on NPR that Congress was already swinging into action. “We will not let this critical economic engine of our fair city succumb to a decline in demand,” intoned Representative Blarney Flank. “I have on my desk an amendment to the TARP program that will finance the distribution of two-and-a-half billion sfogliatelle coupons to all those made hungry by greedy mortgage bankers and overpaid Wall Street CEOs.”

Before I could jump for joy and ask where I could apply for my coupon, my hopes were dashed. Congressional hearings had apparently been scheduled by Pennsylvania Senator R. Len Spectacle for that afternoon to investigate the impact of the proposed Sfogliatelle Amendment on the Philadelphia-based Tastykake Corporation. “It is important – no imperative – that in these troubled times we consider the needs of all of our essential confectioners.”

I sensed gridlock coming. Surely, the sfogliatelle advocates could muster 60 votes to break any filibuster threats mounted by mere Tastykake eaters trying to muscle in on my coupons?

Before I could search for Representative Flank’s number to phone in my support and get invited to a fund raiser, an ominous voice from the TV told me how serious this crisis had become.

“Two-and-a-half billion confection coupons is not nearly enough,” Nobel Prize winning guru Paul Klugman bellowed as he whipped a crowd of finance groupies into a frenzy. “We must consider the multiplicative effects of a decline in confection consumption on the entire agribusiness supply chain both in the US and abroad. Have we not learned from our experiences in the Great Depression that failure to spend our way out of poverty can only impoverish our spenders!”

This appeal to my patriotism made me want to sneak out for another sfogliatelle. But why pay Mike’s outrageous prices when a coupon was only a few votes away? Let those dumb Philadelphians have their nasty Tastykake coupons too, it’s not like they’re spending my money.

As the day wore on and the Financial News Network reported blow-by-blow details of the emerging consensus surrounding the National Confectioners Consumption Preservation Bill, I pined for the simpler days when a sfogliatelle was just a sfogliatelle and not a national priority. But I suppose that as long as this new era of comity and bipartisanship prevails, I can rest easy knowing that the planners of every detail of our economic future know exactly what they are doing.

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