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Cisco stretched himself up on his hind legs and peeped over the edge of a large mushroom. His eyes immediately met those of a large, balding caterpillar, that was sitting on the top, arms folded, wearing a wrinkled suit and dark-framed glasses. It sat quietly smoking a long hookah, mumbling curious words and taking not the smallest notice of Cisco or anything else.

“Consumer confidence has eroded,” the caterpillar said. The words, formed in smoke, appeared above it as it spoke, then gradually dissipated and vanished.

Cisco lowed his front legs, walked back a few steps and sat down to listen and watch.

“Close scrutiny in the period ahead. Steep falloff in recent months. No recession,” continued the caterpillar.

“My master says that we are “already” in a recession, “ interrupted the dog.

The caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth and addressed Cisco in a languid, sleepy voice.
“Irrational exuberance. Obvious protuberance,” it said.

“He says that consumers are not buying anything,” the dog said in reply.

“Risks continue skewed toward the economy's remaining on a path inconsistent with satisfactory economic performance,” said the caterpillar in its best “Greenspanish.”

“Will interest rates be lowered soon? asked the dog.

“Scheduled meeting. Actions needing,” replied the caterpillar.

“Sir, I do not understand the meaning of your words. With respect,” inquired Cisco, “what are you smoking in that hookah?”

The caterpillar smiled the smallest smile and said: “It is good that you do not understand the
meaning of my words. For if you thought that you did, you would be mistaken.”

In a moment or two the caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, yawned once or twice and shook itself. Then it got down off the mushroom and crawled away into the grass.

Cisco thought for a moment as he scratched his ribcage a few times with a rear paw. He then stood up, walked over and stood next to the mushroom, lifted a hind leg, and relieved himself upon it.

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