The global financial crisis may have drained the coffers of investors, businesses and nations, but it’s making our language a bit richer as we discover, revive, coin and develop words and phrases to help make sense of it all.
Some take hold quickly and spread far and wide. “Bailout,” naturally, was voted Word of the Year for 2008 by the American Dialect Society and by Merriam-Webster and was No. 2 on Time’s “Top 10 Buzzwords” (a list that also included “staycation,” a frugal vacation spent close to home). Interestingly—and predictively, as it turned out—the dialect society’s 2007 Word of the Year was “subprime.”
There is a blizzard of language that strives to describe—but sometimes obscures—the strange new financial world we’re in. Television shows, websites and talk radio have exhorted us to buy or sell, have faith or run for our lives, be calm and just trust CEOs or don't believe a word they say. It's enough to make you wonder if screenwriter William Goldman's famous assessment of Hollywood—"Nobody knows anything"—applies here.
We who make our livings in financial journalism have a responsibility to help show the way through the blizzard—to translate and explain, or at least not to make it any more confusing. To that end, here at Reuters News, we're updating our financial glossary. We want it to be a living document that changes as the world it describes changes. When we're finished with updates, we plan to open it up to our users as a wiki. In the meantime, take a look and feel free to comment on this blog.