Proof of Recession

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In the financial world a whole host of new words have sprung up to describe the consequences of the recession we endured. Mancession indicates the male-domination of the industries hardest hit by a crunch while the lipstick indicator identifies lipstick sales as an economic indicator (the theory being that when times are tough, women buy more low-cost luxury items such as lipstick).

Alongside them have been new ways to describe how we cope with tough economic times. We had abs-tinence for the dropping of costly and rarely used gym memberships to save money (daily workouts now tend to take place on living room rugs or jogging around local parks); slashflow meaning the brutal pruning of household budgets to bring outgoings into close alignment with reduced incomes and; al desko, the practice of eating lunch (typically home-made) at one’s desk rather than on the terrace of a local restaurant. All able to be interpreted so far. 

While Wall Street has the sensuous imagery of American celebrities with Jennifer Lopez / J. Lo: the rounding bottom in a stock’s price chart and Bo Derek: the perfect stock, the City of London is more varied in its imaginative description of the equity market with poop and scoop being to drive down a share price by spreading malicious rumours; mattressing: the term used by other traders and bank managers to hide their results.

Other lingo that is inventive and has clarity includes the barefoot pilgrim, who has lost everything on the stock market but might still be persuaded to invest again, and a teddy bear pat which is a letter or telephone call indicating that a suitor was about to make a takeover offer (this gave the target company a chance for a friendly merger).

The Stock Market has other specific jargon to help go about its daily ways. My favourite two are to catch a falling knife which is to buy a stock as its price is going down, in hopes that it will go back up, only to have it continue to fall; and a strong bear hug a tender offer that named a specific price, so had to be made public.

Less open to interpretation but highly vivid is the use of animal imagery. It plays a colourful and disproportionate part in day-to-day corporate parlance, with shoot the puppy meaning to dare to do the unthinkable; lipstick on a pig for an attempt to put a favourite spin on a negative situation; a pig in a python meaning a surge in a statistic measured over time; boiling frog syndrome: a company which fails to recognise gradual market change (as a slowly-boiled frog may not detect a slow temperature increase). Other animal imagery of linguistic merit includes moose on the table which translates as an issue which everyone in a business meeting knows is a problem but which no-one wants to address, the well-known elephant in the room for the big problem that is obvious to all but which everyone ignores or avoids mentioning because it might be politically or socially embarrassing and a seagull manager who is a manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, defecates all over everything, and then leaves.

But at least the downsizing and the downturn of the last decade brought with it some positivity as expressed by digital nomad which is a person who uses technology, particularly wireless networking, to work without requiring an office or other fixed address; returnment for the act of returning to work after one has retired from one’s job and stoozing which means the act of borrowing money at an interest rate of 0% (a rate typically offered by credit card companies as an incentive for new customers. The money is then placed in a high-interest bank account to make a profit from the interest earned, whereby the borrower (or stoozer) then pays the money back before the 0% period ends). No pain no gain!

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