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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Metaphor Crisis Stalks Financial Reporters

Roubini, Opening the Floodgates
of Metaphor

Figurative language experts fear that economic reporters will soon run out of metaphors, due in large part to excessive use by writers such as "Dr. Doom" Nouriel Roubini.
In a recent article Roubini wrote an economic "perfect storm" is "unfolding" across the globe, because of four "elements," including a "cooling economy," and that central banks have "run out of policy bullets" and  policymakers are "running out of rabbits to pull out of the hat."
In a few short paragraphs, he compared economics to weather patterns, cloth, chemistry, thermometers, target practice, and magic acts, depleting his own metaphorical supply until he was reduced to a far-fetched analogy to physics: "Levitational force of policy easing can only temporarily lift asset prices as gravitational forces of weaker fundamentals dominate over time."

Unfortunately reckless overuse of metaphor among financial writers is not restricted to Mr. Roubini.  Bill Smead, CEO of Smead Capital Management, agreeing with Mr. Roubini on CNBC went metaphorically from plumbing, to broken ceramics, to the digestive-tract in a single sentence, "There is virtually zero chance that pump-priming by central banks will succeed... policymakers should instead let the economic bust work itself through the system."

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