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Breaking: Butterfly farts in Timbucktoo stock exchange!

A catastrophic chain of events is unfolding across Africa as commodity markets tumble, currencies are sliding, derivative markets are vapourising, and the effects are starting to be felt in the civilised world.

European finance ministers, who only yesterday were trumpeting record stock market highs, are bracing themselves for difficult days ahead.

Rumours coming out of Mali are focusing on a visit of the Chinese Ambassador to the stock exchange. Mustapha Ali, a trader in the Timbucktoo Stock Exchange, blogged this less than an hour ago:

"It was an important day for the country, and we were pinning our hopes on winning Chinese investment for our crumbling parliament - it was to be a symbol of a new era of democracy for our country. The ambassador had come to the trading floor to ring the bell and then he would close the deal. I was standing close and I saw the fartwa butterfly land on his glasses and I thought 'that's unusual at this time of year'. Then the ambassador seemed to sniff, and then he just shook his head and walked out. The place erupted in pandemonium. I guess the flow of hot money had to stop somewhere."

Investors across the region had assumed the deal was in the bag, and may have gambled disproportionately on it. With Mali on the brink of war, the whole region is destabilised, and now credit markets have absolutely frozen up. Reuters reports several brokers jumping out of windows in Harare, Sudan has already blocked the Nile, and there are fears in Rwanda of another genocide.

Some pundits are pointing to the recent massive weather losses in the reinsurance industry and saying global markets are too fragile for another hit this year. But the contagion seems to be spreading nonetheless.

Japan has already seen panic buying tonight and the global gold price has nearly doubled. Increasingly desperate hopes are being pinned on the Federal Reserve which is expected to make a statement before trading opens in New York.

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