Millions of dollars were wiped off of the value of shares yesterday, after rumours that a giant octopus was attacking New Jersey swept Wall Street. Amazing scenes ensued as panic stricken brokers rushed to sell shares in East Coast insurance companies, property management firms and real estate firms. “When giant sea creatures start wrecking buildings on the Hudson, river front property is the last thing you want your money in,” explained Whib Futter, a financial analyst at New York’s Labium Brothers Bank. “Once that sort of thing has happened, people just don’t want to live any where they see as vulnerable, not only that, but just think of the insurance claims!” Futter believes that the shares crash would have been even worse if the monster involved had been amphibious. “Then far more people would have been threatened – potentially the whole of the US could have been under threat,” he muses. Share prices experienced a modest recovery when it emerged that the rumours were completely unfounded – the result of a broker overhearing a colleague describing a vivid dream he’d had after falling asleep whilst watching It Came From Beneath the Sea. “This latest farce just goes to show the need for greater regulation of the financial sector,” opines Dr Rock Astershagg of the Harvard School of Catering. “It’s utterly ludicrous that the fate of the economies of the western world could be dependent upon what old film is on the late show!” Astershagg has long been a critic of the manner in which the financial markets operate, believing that they are far too prone to irrational behaviour on the part of brokers, who frequently fail to behave in a logical manner, instead basing their decisions upon unfounded rumours. “The problem is that most of these guys are completely ignorant bastards,” claims the academic. “Sure, they wear suits, drive Ferraris and are vastly over paid, but they’re basically dumb, they know jack shit about anything outside of their bonds and shares.” Sir John Poncey-Twyatt, of the UK’s Financial Services Authority (FSA), rejects such claims, believing that the octopus scare was simply an isolated incident. “With the current instability in the banking sector, the markets are unusually jumpy and susceptible to rumour. Under normal circumstances this sort of thing wouldn’t happen,” says the eminent former merchant banker. “Besides, that sort of thing could never happen here in the UK. We breed a different type of broker – far too level-headed to be worried by silly stories about monsters!” Nevertheless, only two weeks earlier, there had been a massive run on sterling and millions wiped off the value of bank shares, after stories that a mutated moth which fed on the paper used to make bank notes, had been released into the Bank of England vaults by al Qaeda terrorists. “Well, obviously that’s completely different,” he spluttered. “Mutated money-eating moths are far more credible than giant octopuses! Besides, the source was impeccable – a friend of a chap who’d gone to Eton with the brother-in-law of a very senior Secret Intelligence Service fellow! Straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak!”

According to Astershagg, the financial markets have long been vulnerable to insane rumours. “The 1929 stock market crash was the result of mass hysteria triggered by stories that an evil race of winged troglodytes had emerged from a huge crack in the ground in Nebraska,” he reveals. “It started when a young commodities broker called Nathan Bentwick ran onto the trading floor with his trousers around his ankles, bleeding profusely from the anus, screaming that he’d been taken roughly from behind by a flying ape whilst walking though Central Park.” In the ensuing chaos, rumours that the troglodytes had invaded Manhattan and were ravishing the male population spread like wild fire. “They thought it was the end of civilisation and just sold everything,” Astershagg says. “People were so terrified by the prospect of being ass-raped by the creatures they were jumping of off skyscrapers to escape their imagined foe! Half the banking community started dressing as women in an attempt to avoid being sodomised by the flying apes.” The madness only started to abate after the unfortunate Bentwick was committed to a lunatic asylum, following his arrest for forcing his way into City Hall, screaming that he was about to give birth to the monstrous progeny of his forced sexual liaison with the flying anthropoid, before proceeding to deposit a humungous turd on the mayor’s desk. “Then there was the collapse of the Egyptian cotton market in 1959,” the academic muses. “That followed rumours that two of the directors of one of America’s leading cotton importers had been strangled by a mummy as part of a Pharaoh’s curse.” In reality, both men had died in bizarre auto-asphyxiation accidents as they masturbated whilst wrapped from head to foot in bandages.

It isn’t just unfounded rumours which have undermined the markets, they have also fallen victim to deliberate hoaxes, with oil prices recently rocketing after the leaking of a supposedly secret CIA report. “According to this document the Iranian government was planning to use its nuclear power programme to create a giant Ayatollah Khomeini,” explains Astershagg. “The CIA allegedly believed that they were going to use this giant Muslim cleric to attack Middle Eastern oil fields. Obviously, as soon as the report was ‘leaked’, panic gripped the oil markets.” The report was eventually exposed as a fake, concocted by a couple of Ohio high school kids for a bet. “The little bastards won a stack of porno for bringing the western economies to the brink of disaster,” says the academic. “Or at least, they would have if the guy they’d made the wager with hadn’t welched on the bet and turned them in to the FBI.” Nevertheless, Despite such apparently overwhelming evidence of the irrationality of the markets, Poncey-Twyatt still believes that greater regulation is not the answer, instead contending that the problem doesn’t lie with gullible City brokers, but rather with the government. “Look, it’s quite clear that if the City had greater confidence in the government’s ability to protect the country from bizarre monster attacks and alien invasions, then they wouldn’t panic every time one of these rumours does the rounds,” says the FSA advisor, fresh from his attempts to quell fears amongst traders that the ghost of Karl Marx was haunting the London Stock Exchange, terrorising brokers with his penetrating treatises on the inevitability of the collapse of capitalism. “The government needs to get its finger out and start doing more to create adequate anti-monster defences. Clearly, what we need isn’t more regulation, but giant laser cannon mounted on the roof of Parliament. That’ll calm the markets down. It stands to reason, doesn’t it?”