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French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, speaks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a round table session at an EU summit in Brussels on Friday, Dec. 9, 2011. (Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP)
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, speaks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a round table session at an EU summit in Brussels on Friday, Dec. 9, 2011. (Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP)


Bidding adieu to The Year of the Crisis Summit Add to ...


- The year’s first debt-crisis summit fails when the president of the European Council runs into the presidents of the European Commission and the European Union in the men’s room and they realize they have no idea what the other guys do.

- Conrad Black’s first Twitter experience is a letdown when the first word in his first Tweet exceeds 140 characters.


- McDonald’s in Hong Kong offers McWeddings. Not to be outdone, Toronto’s St. Urbain Bagels offers the “Brunch and Bris” combo.

- TMX boss Tom Kloet agrees to hand control of Canada’s stock market champion to the London Stock Exchange. “Never mind that we make fortunes, have cornered the global market for mining listings and, frankly, don’t need a partner,” he says. “We feel compelled to respect Canada’s fine sell-out tradition.”


- German Chancellor Angela Merkel goes for a new, lighter look and opens an European Union summit with a joke: “An Irishman, a Portuguese, a Greek and a German walk into a bar. Who picks up the tab?”

- Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou announces a new austerity measure: a fat tax on plump German tourists, payable in cash at new airport weigh stations.


- Wikileaks dumps files indiscriminately. Among the disclosures: Angela Merkel blows the lid off her credit card limit every month; Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, upset that French president Nicolas Sarkozy is taller than him, had planned to invade France to repatriate Carla Bruni, the Mona Lisa and Corsica; Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin did the world’s first Botox-for-oil swap; and Stephen Harper’s hair is a bulletproof helmet.


- To the astonishment of skeptical economists, British Prime Minister David Cameron immediately plugs the budget-deficit hole with a tax on pornography, umbrellas, bad teeth, Marmite and Mary Poppins videos, though his tax on deep-fried Mars bars further alienates the Scottish National Party.

- A leaked internal Fiat report on the sales flop of the Fiat 500 in North America concludes that “Americans and Canadians are just too damn fat to fit in our smallest car.” In a desperate move, Fiat rewrites the operators’ manual: “For ingress, a) strip naked, b) slather body with olive oil, c) squeeze into driver’s seat as passenger pulls right arm from other side.”


- By sheer accident, scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland believe they have found an object similar to the Higgs boson – the “God particle.” Upon examination, is it found to be even smaller than the brains of the economists who failed to predict the financial and debt crises.

- Sino-Forest, fighting allegations from Muddy Waters that it’s a top-to-bottom fraud, explains to investors that its 58 holding companies in the British Virgin Islands, one called Glory Billionaire International, and 293 bank accounts in Hong Kong should in no way arouse suspicions. Nor should the missing forests or cash reserves.


- Rupert Murdoch closes his biggest newspaper, The News of the World. “We nuked the sorry beast out of journalistic necessity,” he explains. “No celebrity phone hacking, no payoffs to sleazy cops, no stories. Kinda simple, really.”

- Declaring Italy in terminal decline and a risk to euro-zone integrity, Pope Benedict XVI launches campaign to restore the Papal States with the campaign slogan, “What Italy needs is an economic miracle. Vote Vatican.”


- TransCanada unveils its “Outta sight, outta mind” campaign to promote the oil sands Keystone XL pipeline to skeptical Americans. “An area the size of Florida will be destroyed to keep American SUVs on the road,” the company brochure says. “But since you can’t find Alberta on the map, it’s not your problem. Keep on truckin’.”

- Standard & Poor’s strips the United States of its triple-A credit rating. Perversely, U.S. bonds soar in value. Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Greece immediately demand downgrades too.


- BlackBerry maker Research in Motion announces dividend payments in the form of PlayBook tablets.

- In a rare co-ordinated move, Fitch, S&P and Moody’s downgrade Mr. Berlusconi to “droopy old geezer who can’t possible have that much fun at bunga bunga parties.”

- Complaining of being “Fitchslapped,” Mr. Berlusconi invites ratings agencies to a bunga bunga party. The next morning, agencies revise Mr. Berlusconi’s ratings upward.

- Resentenced, Conrad Black enters the Federal Correctional Institution in Miami, where he updates his autobiography, A Life in Progress, adding the subtitle, “Minus a boo-boo or two.”

- In an act of inspired marketing, the Foster’s beer group sponsors the scientists who won the 2011 Ig Nobel biology prize “for discovering that a certain kind of beetle mates with a certain kind of Australian beer bottle.”


- Canada’s Brookfield Properties, owner of Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park, ground zero of the Occupy Wall Street movement, insists that the park be cleared. Feeling bad about ousting peaceful protesters, Brookfield CEO Bruce Flatt awards himself a $5-million stress bonus and immediately feels better.

- Hedge funds, led by Kyle Bass of Texas, launch a mass, co-ordinated short sale of euro-zone debt after the shocking discovery that the pope is German and the European central banker is Italian.

- Mr. Berlusconi makes the fatal mistake of wearing his maid’s costume to Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s Halloween party.

- Canada’s premier solar power company, Arise Technologies, closes its German factory amid a global solar panel glut. “We’re sorta like Greece,” says CEO Dan Shea. “The German taxpayer paid for this pig, so what do we care?”


- Elderly but sprightly tourist Irma Schlump, stranded in riot-torn Athens as her cruise ship sails without her, is tear-gassed in Syntagma Square. “Didn’t see this event on the activities list,” she says. “But sure beats bingo night in Regina for thrills.”

- The lithium-ion batteries in GM’s miracle car, the hybrid Chevy Volt, catch fire. Never ones to pass on a sales opportunity, GM’s marketing pros launch the limited-run Chevy Volt Tailgate Party edition with the catchy “It’s a car and a barbecue” jingle.

- Mr. Berlusconi hits on International Monetary Fund boss Christine Lagarde at the G20 summit in Cannes. “We all know Italy needs IMF loans,” he later explains. “Just thought a little flattery would ratchet down the interest rate.”

- Prime Minister Stephen Harper offers aid to Italy in the form of discounted Tim Hortons franchises.


- A mass strike is called in Athens to protest mass strikes which prevent people from getting to work. Another strike is called the next day when people realize there is no work to go to.

- French Rafale fighter bombers are spotted over London’s financial district the day after French central banker Christian Noyer’s call for a British credit rating downgrade goes unheeded. In retaliation, British Prime Minister David Cameron orders Hawker Harriers to carpet bomb Paris with chip butties in spite of warnings that such attacks would contravene the Geneva Convention.

- Jon “I simply don’t know where the money is” Corzine, ex-boss of bankrupt MF Global, shows up at hearings with unusually long hair and a thick beard. An open mic records his lawyer’s whisper: “Jon, you squid brain. The disguise is supposed to come after you flee to Uruguay, not before.”

- Russian oligarch, gold magnate and New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov – worth $18-billion (U.S.), according to Forbes – announces he will contest the 2012 presidential election against Vladimir Putin. “Why not?” he says. “I own everything but the Kremlin and they wouldn’t sell. This is a purchase by other means.”

- Ms. Merkel, declaring the end of the Year of the Crisis Summit, is forced to declare 2012 the Year of the Crisis Summit (II) when finance ministers argue convincingly that the summits are the euro zone’s main form of fiscal stimulus.

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