Revenge of the S&P

This has been a turbulent month for stocks as Standard and Poor’s continue to downgrade companies and countries. S&P are now on a path to reevaluate more than just corporations. Are S&P undervaluing the economy or are they finally willing to admit that all is not well in the world?

Last week the famed financial watchdog announced that Moby-Dick is no longer a brilliant novel but merely “tolerable.” This sent shockwaves throughout the literary and financial world. Things worsened when S&P formally announced that they don’t quite “get” James Joyce’s Ulysses, causing some experts to quietly whisper, “It’s about time.”

According to new values announced by S&P, The Scarlet Letter is not a perennial classic but “OK, if you like that sort of thing.” Book sellers have since seen sales decrease by a significant 0.07% as a result.

Orange juice futures plummeted on fears of what S&P will say about Ethan Frome. (The connection between Ethan Frome and oranges is storied and complex.) The tech market was volatile after news leaked that A Tale of Two Cities would be downgraded to, “Not bad.”

Industry analyst Mark Harrison said, “It’s a scary time. I’d hate to be a literary icon. Rumors are floating around that the annual report on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn includes the phrase ‘adequate at times.’ That’s not exactly the phrasing one would hope to hear when discussing Twain.”

Despite recent trends, not all books have been downgraded. S&P surprised Wall Street and booksellers by saying, “Jurassic Park still holds up.” And Stephen King’s The Stand has been officially described as, “Sooooo good!”   

Yet Harrison is quick to point out that the positive rankings are too few and far between. “The government needs to step in. The president needs to say that Of Mice and Men is unequivocally great. Failure to do that would be catastrophic.”  Washington is leery to act after an attempt three years ago to call Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix, “Good,” backfired amongst young voters who wanted the president to say it was, “Really good.”

A Washington insider who demanded we call him Mr. Cosmic, said, “We know The Great Gatsby is great. Of course we know it. But there’s an election year looming and no one wants to make waves by artificially boosting a book’s score. Once you go against S&P and say Gatsby is great, then the Gravity’s Rainbow people start arguing for their book to be reassessed as a classic. It’s a snowball effect. We don’t have the manpower needed to read Gravity’s Rainbow.”

(At the time this article was filed, S&P had downgraded The Great Gatsby to, “Pretty dull, especially in the middle.” Gravity’s Rainbow was downgraded to, “Weird,” but was briefly raised to, “Kind of cool,” before plummeting back to, “Totally bonkers.”)

Experts agree that the market will repair itself eventually. “People will start calling Catcher in the Rye a classic again,” said Harrison. “But it won’t happen overnight. The damage done was extensive. We’re talking years and years of reputation building. Hopefully James Cameron will make a movie about Catcher in the Rye to remind everyone that it’s good.”

The storm clouds are gathering over products besides books. S&P recently called “Hey Jude” by the Beatles, “Alright, I guess,” and when asked about The Godfather they simply shrugged and said, “Meh.” Of course, S&P might be going through some stuff at home, causing them to be disinterested in popular items. Or maybe they’re just being difficult to get attention. That would explain why they recently all got earrings and called The Grand Canyon, “Lame.”

Tomorrow S&P will announce new values for sandals, the first Matrix movie, and their Senior Prom. Wall Street, the world, and Samantha Jameson who went to prom with one of the S&P guys, anxiously wait. 

Dan Bergstein is a freelance writer who lives in Pennsylvania, just as the prophecy foretold.