Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Devil's Dictionary -- Financial Edition

One year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers Matthew Rose wrote on an updated version of The Devil's Dictionary. He correctly points out that as the financial crisis morphed into a 24/7 frenzy for media, new words started to enter into American's every day conversations.  While the article is too long for me to share in total, here are some of my favorite new words or meanings.

BAILOUT, n. First known use: Noah. Novel regressive taxation scheme whereby vast sums of capital are transferred from those citizens who didn't participate in the illusory Bacchanalia of the housing bubble to those who did and weren't clever enough to get out in time.

DEFICIT, n. For the party in power, at worst a minor irritant and at best a precondition for economic growth. For the minority, the gravest threat to the stability of the Republic.

STIMULUS, n. An indeterminate sum of taxpayer money used to generate violent debate. Previously known as "government spending."

TARP, n. acronym. 1. A synthetic device designed to cover up an unsightly mess, or to protect perishable goods (firewood, banks) from the ravages of the elements, typically costing somewhere between $12.99 and $700 billion. 2. Prime example of how governments use otherwise anodyne acronyms, abbreviations and sports metaphors to disguise matters of controversy. See also TALF, TLGP, TURF, FHFA, BACKSTOP, WRAP, OFHEO and SPECTRE.

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