The Outbreak of the Financial Necropocalypse
Preface: To celebrate the upcoming Walking Dead series, the success of Fear the Walking Dead and of course Halloween, my colleague Barry Connolly and I will upload a series of connected short stories outlying the recent global financial crisis in terms of a zombie outbreak. Those of you who are die hard zombie fans (like us) will be able to pick up the various references used throughout the zombie genre and of course learn about what really happened during the global financial crisis. Many of the economic terms such as zombie banks are actual terms that have not been “zombified!”
Please note that the images are copyright of The Walking Dead franchise.
If you have any questions or suggestions feel free to contact my colleague and I.
Expect a post every Friday for the next three weeks.Who said finance and economics had to be boring?
Sana Khan and Barry Connolly
The Outbreak of the Financial Necropocalypse
By 2007, American Scientists were playing a high risk game. They were investing heavily in risky ventures. Throughout low income pockets of the United States, working class families like the Grimes’ were the vectors for a virus known as Subtumus-primus-mortgagous (“SPM”). The Grimes’ are a typical example of the victims of the infection. They owned a small house in the town of Woodbury. The family borrowed huge sums of money from the laboratory to finance their increasing desire to consume. SPM was a deadly virus, posing great risk to both hosts and the scientists involved. The amount of capital received was always too much. There was never any hope of repaying it. Mr Grimes soon fell ill and couldn’t repay his debts. Unfortunately this was not an isolated incident. The Grimes family was simply a microcosm of the macrocosm. SPM quickly spread through the entire system, attacking the very brains of the laboratories.
Their new neighbours were the first to lose their homes, which were devoured rapidly by the virus. Locking the doors and barricading themselves inside was not an option; if it wasn’t the virus then it was the laboratories demanding their assets and assistance. They were in no position to negotiate. They were trapped and it was only a matter of time before the virus infected them. The block quickly became an undead neighbourhood; they too had become zombie snacks. The virus had destroyed all life leaving nothing but a trail of dead behind. Those that died from the virus, returned as the evil dead growing and rising in number. The Grimes had lost everything, their American dream destroyed by the “dead rising” virus. The laboratories of the Frantic Emergency Department (the “FED”) sought to contain the infection, but to no avail.
When SPM strains are combined, the contraction rate increased. When left alone, the virus was dormant, lurking in the shadows waiting for an opportune moment to strike as a “runner”, a more aggressive predator leaving no option of escape. It was discovered that many of the scientists had packaged together blocks of SPM into one bundle. What they called securitisation, effectively allowed them to move the virus easily and trade it with others. Tricking the next unsuspecting scientist by labelling the test tubes, AAA, it was assumed that the virus was relatively safe. However, as hosts fell ill, the mislabelling came to light. Some of the most advanced scientific engineers in the United States began to realise that their laboratories had become infected with SPM. The entire resources of one lab would be used to treat SPM virus, but without effect. (Moral) panic ensued.
Depositors lined up and withdrew vast amount of liquid assets held by laboratories such as Countrywide Financial. Typically in the face of public panic, even those who couldn’t identify the terrifying cause of the commotion followed the evacuation. Government officials struggled to keep order in the streets. After all it was the public versus the big bad laboratories; who had made false promises to provide higher returns the people’s trust in them. Nobody wanted to be left behind without adequate resources.
Countrywide Financial was bitten; it was now zombie bank, only Captain America, (aka Ben Bernanke), the head of FED Laboratories, could take control of the situation. And he did just that. The FEDs materialised at the last minute, saving some institutions, just before the doors burst open and the horde broke in. Despite this did little to prevent the contagion. By now everything was contaminated.
As laboratories collapsed, the FEDs Laboratories force was sent in to treat the crisis. The main option was to inject liquidity into the system; it had worked before, it would work again. Some of the most renowned backup safety laboratories fell, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pharmaceutical suffered heavily. It was meant to provide back up to Bear corporation but it did not. Bear collapsed. After the air-dropping in of several of FEDs Laboratories forces, it seemed to be contained. But as complacency set in yet again, cracks began to appear. Moral Hazard was the new fear. Would the scientists just continue with their work while learning nothing? Would they continue to spread SPM, or develop even more advanced viruses in an attempt to hide the results of SPM?
Lameman laboratories developed symptoms of SPM. They were one of the oldest and most respected laboratories in the sector. Scientists gathered to inspect the infection closely. The rot within Lameman was significant. It had been eaten away from within; its stench had begun to spread causing the media and public to question the true nature of operations. However this time, there was no FEDs Laboratories force, they were low on ammunition and preferred not to be the one to come to the rescue. Supporters for Lameman laboratories fell quite clearly, disappearing into the chaos. Nobody came to the rescue. Lameman laboratories were consumed by the horde, which had been created by the virus. Within days, people were wandering from its headquarters, clutching their last remaining valuables. It was either stay and be destroyed completely or escape and attempt to survive by themselves. Many chose the latter. Soulless, barely more than corpses, they stumbled into the streets of New York. They had become the living dead, something which they had feared deep down all along.
This was the new strategy of the FEDs; allow the world see the destruction that SPM and the rotten system it developed could cause. This would assist raising the alarm about how serious and deadly the virus was. This wasn’t just a US problem. This was a worldwide epidemic. There had to be a world war against SPM. Only by combing forces and resources could this virus be defeated. After all, the international financial system had developed and strengthened the virus created in the US laboratories. The world was at risk and the virus began to transcend borders and seep into the veins of economies far and wide. Symptoms had already begun popping up in many places across Europe…
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The Irish Outbreak of the Financial Necropocalypse
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Chapter 2: The Irish Outbreak
Brian Lenihen (BL) stares out longingly at the snow falling across Leinster House. Tracks can be seen on the ground. Undefined footsteps…dragging footsteps. Mr Lenihen turns back to the meeting at hand.
BL: What do you mean they’re not responding? How are they comatose?
Scientist 1: They will run out of resources tonight. BY morning we will have to deal with the undead corpses.
BL “Undead corpses”, don’t be foolish.
Scientist 1: Tomorrow morning the remnant of those infected will corrupt the flesh of the rest of the economy. Once the people go to an ATM they will see the void.
Scientist 2: The people will panic. Pandemonium will ensue.
BL: So what is our response?
Scientist 1: We sacrifice all the resources we have. We pump them full of antibodies. It will save them in the morning and will show the world our commitment to saving them. It will also buy us time for the international community to arrive at a solution.
BL: We sacrifice everything?
Scientist 1: Everything.
BL: It may work in the morning, but what if the viral strain continues?
Scientist 1: It is our last hope, Minister.
BL: And do you agree with this plan Mr McWilliams?
Scientist 1: …
This tale has no happy ending. It is one filled with doom and gloom, which for some may be too much. Ireland is an economic wasteland; those who are able, flee to safer places. Reader discretion is advised.
In the early 2000’s the Irish system performed healthily. The economy was strong and growing. However, one sector; one appendage grew too quickly. This mutation was in the Houses of the Dead. This alone was not in itself a problem. The Doctor’s diagnosis was that it wouldn’t overheat; it could be cooled. Things first began to go wrong during mid 2008. The catalyst for this was the SPM virus. Ireland believed that given its success already, it could fight off any virus if it deployed its excessive reserve forces. Despite the recent growth, the Celtic Tiger was not what she once was. The first limb to show signs of the infection was the banking sector. It was the life-blood that developed each and every House, each new estate filled with Houses of the Dead. Within weeks, they had succumbed to the infection. An outbreak swarmed across the markets. Bonds grew to grotesque levels causing Junk bonditis, a mutated version stemming from the false sense of hope that the virus debtulosis had given to the scientists. The infection not only spread and destroyed everything in its path, but it also mutated into a more aggressive virus.
Emergency action was taken and the riskiest remedy possible was administered – Bank bailouts. This was deemed the only way to keep the banking sector alive, and it needed to be kept alive after all how else would society function? The following day, dawn appeared as a quiet calm. It wasn’t long before dawn transitioned into dawn of the dead.
The government has searched through its medi-pack for something to restore its health, but nothing has worked. Out of despair and resignation, Ireland approached the IMF in a last ditch effort to revive the economy. As detestable as this choice seemed, the alternative, to do nothing, meant certain death. The choice was simple, no power, no glory but almost certain survival and the latter was picked in 2010.
The IMF quickly imposed strict health measures. The foul tasting medicine, known as austerity, came in the form of harsh budget cuts. This, they were told would save them. The side effect of this medicine caused thousands of people to march down streets in Dublin, tearing at the gates to Leinster House.
International assistance came in the form of a Troika, the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF. The IMF, which had administered some of the most painful medicine possible, sought hard measures to treat the virus. This silenced the public. Hatred and distrust spread among rural villages and urban towns.
One central strategy was the creation of a monstrous entity, an umbrella corporation for toxic debtulosis. NAMA came into being with the sole object of clawing up debtulosis, cleansing the filth ridden sheets and returning the laboratories to good health. Whilst its operations continued, the laboratories were all but lost. Anglo Irish fell in disgrace. Subsequent tapes would disclose that their brains were infected early on, Scientists sought to grab anti-virals from more worthy sources. It failed miserably and only served to spread the infection further throughout the system.
The NAMA umbrella corporation works with both national and major international players in a number of markets; with top-secret operations utilizing genetic engineering and biological weaponry to combat the virus and its mutated version. The company also had a more benevolent public face for the ignorant masses, producing cosmetic advices, receiverships, liquidations, and the sale and resale of valuable resources.
The remaining banks wander aimlessly. Subtle references are not needed here; they really are zombie banks. Smaller crawlers like Danske, are being put down quickly. The remaining pillar banks appear alive, but with eyes glazed over. No heart or compassion evident. Irish citizens, infected with toxic mortgages are left with no option but to barricade themselves in their homes, apartments and barns, in an effort to stave off their clawing advances.
Ironically those that were seriously affected by the terrible disease were living outside cities. This was a freak reaction to the necroapocalypse; the norm is that more crowded places fall first, with the virus spreading like wildfire due to the close proximity of the living bodies and increased risk of contagion. They had placed their trust in the hands of conglomerates.
Those affected by the plague went in numbers to the Courts. The justice they demanded however, overwhelmed the Courts. Those who were able to withstand held firm in the face of demanding letters from laboratories, though soon felt the pain of the Troika bitter medicine. Many lost everything; parents lost their children to foreign lands. Families lost homes. A new plague ripped through the Irish countryside, simulating the effects of the Great Famine.
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The European Infection of the Financial Necropocalypse
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Chapter 3: The European Infection
ECB Laboratory Headquarters, Frankfurt, 23.35, 8th August, 2007;
“Monsieur, Monsieur Trichet, Ze Amercian system is decayed; one major laboratory has already been ripped apart, limb from limb and its limbs are infecting everyone! Ze American economy had become a barren landscape… what will ze European response be?”
Jean-Claude Trichet looks on. The American response to the crisis was weak, but it staved off the virulent strain which could have consumed the very heart of the world economy. People across Europe look to Finance Ministers like never before – they are now the mad scientists; they are the ones in control. They are the people’s last hope…
Although the infestation became apparent in 2007, the catastrophic seeds had been planted exactly 28 years earlier, quite innocently. In 1979, blissfully unaware of the magnitude of their creation, the people of Europe established the European Monetary System; this enabled the fixing of exchange rates onto the European Currency Unit and gave vast amounts of power and resources to the laboratories. Unbeknownst to all, it was a terrifying sleeper. The intention of the EMS was noble, however its establishment paved the way to an economic wasteland, home to (un)dead economies and zombie banks.
In 2007, suffering from the effects of “debtulosis”, Mainland Europe succumbed to the festering disease. At first it seemed to fight off the infection bravely, though soon, its organs began to fail in unison. By forging each country together into a single body, the virus was able to spread rapidly throughout the host. A magic bullet drug known as the ECB was intended to keep the system healthy. However, this agent proved too weak. Even preppers where inadequately prepared. Countries soon took their own path and attempted to stem the relentless invasion via autonomous revolt.
Some fought the hordes valiantly. German agents had enough resources to fight off any infection. They presented the virus with a “present from the German army”, it was enough to destroy it. The Germans were clever, they never fully trusted “debtulosis” virus and never let it completely infect their system. Other countries were fooled by the virus and they soon were engulfed. Greece was one such country. After the American virus rattled the world, “debtulosis” in the Greek system mutated and one of the worst outbreaks began.
Ever since the adoption of the Euro, Greece had become a sleeper, lying dormant in the West Coast Safe Zone economy. Through deception, voodoo and intricate experimental manipulation, Greece was let in to the West Coast Safe Zone. The ruptures exposed by the American virus, highlighted the horror that lay within. The most effective way to identify infection was through bonditis yieldis. Bondis yieldis was a proxy measure for health, with high yields indicating uncertainty and fear. Greek bonditis soared rapidly and aggressively. The prognosis looked bleak, analysts gave the country less than 28 weeks to live and laboratories quickly fell. Panic ensued, this was a grave situation where those affected by the virus and its mutations were becoming gallowwalkers. The streets of Athens were bare, empty in a post-necroapocalyptic-economic landscape. Buildings were boarded up and feral dogs roamed the streets aimlessly. Despite going into emergency mode, they failed in zombat. Several Greek leaders fell to the infection, their flesh entirely exposed and eaten by the deadly infections. Greece was now a dead zone. Those that survived fell into madness out of desperation.
There was little hope of rescue. European HQ struggled to provide a response. Struck by fear of the oncoming terror, the only option left was containment. The virus had to be stopped at all costs. Countries contributed money to fight off the infection. Compassion was not their true motive; the efforts were merely an attempt to limit the virus to the Greek state. The pain and suffering in Greece was largely ignored. The monetary injections were little more than survival packs; momentarily keeping the patient alive.
Another variant of the infection developed in the UK financial system. On the streets of quiet Northern towns of the UK, people queued, bleary-eyed outside of bank buildings. It was a run. One Rock of stability had fallen and people gathered fearfully, seeking to claim the last of their money. The UK government, momentarily dazed by the panic, were unsure whether to allow the Bank to be consumed by the virus or assist it.
The UK response was to seal up the outbreak. Encapsulate the outbreak on the Rocks to the North. Excessive risk taking and financial malaise was the resident evil within the UK system; Even Alice the zombie slayer could not even stop this. Heightened media attention highlighted the scenario adding to the public outrage.
The UK government soon requested emergency assistance and so the secret forces of Bank of England finally decided to come to the rescue. A state of emergency was declared and the decision was made to pool a vast amount of resources in order to counter-attack the invasion of the Northern body snatchers.
The actions of those throughout Europe were not enough to halt the spread of the virus. Strains quickly developed in Spain and Italy. It was here, where true fear struck. How could the virus take the most resilient of hosts? Size alone did not provide protection. Even worse, a viral infection on this scale, demonstrated the widespread nature of the infection. Many decried Europe as lost. Containment had failed.
Across parched stretches of the Spanish countryside, housing developments lay empty. Investors had fled long ago. Spanish laboratories also demonstrated the extent of the infection. At first, outsiders dared not approach. Even when the only apparent option was another exercise in containment, any aid was limited to the banks. No country wanted to attempt to treat the underlying Spanish debtulosis problem. It would only lead to more spread of the virus. Getting involved and lending money, could directly lead to the contraction of the same virus.
Italy’s problems came later. As the crisis developed, Italy’ underlying problem of debtulosis became evident. As the bonditis yieldis rose, analysts gave stark diagnoses. The response in the Italian Government was typical – absolute panic. The Government fell quickly, its weak attempts to zombat failed. The solution was to seek foreign aid. Arriving with dishevelled hair and the thick glasses of an expert technocrat, Mario Monti took the helm. However, Super Mario had scarcely faced incoming hordes of bloodthirsty zombies, grasping at the heels of the Italian economy. Europe again stood by and watched, offering words of support, but again little more. The virus ravaged through the economy. Monti eventually fell, invoking an era of darkness for all Italians.
This is the state of the European situation, limited intervention and weak attempts at containment. So far there seems to have been some success. Whilst contagion is still evident, Spain, Italy, Ireland, Portugal and Greece are clearly infected. Signs of recovery are there, but they are in a fragile state. Like all zombie stories, there are many more causalities that rarely get mention. Lithuania, Hungary and Cyprus were also infected. They now exist on the fringes of a Europe, waiting patiently to attack.
The zombies that have been created in 2007 remain wandering the streets, their quest for economic and societal collapse, though slightly diminished, is likely to return. Something drastic has to be done to combat the infection. As of yet no antidote has been discovered.
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