You may have seen those scary headlines in financial papers, or on TV: “Markets nosedive”
What does “nosedive” mean? These two pictures should make it clear. The first one shows an aircraft nosediving. The second one is a chart of a stock that opened at $90 at 9am and then nosedived between 3pm and 4pm to finish at $30.
So the joke going round the financial centres these days is “You’re not a bank unless you’ve had a government bailout.”
The UK, Europe, USA, Japan, now South Korea…they’re all bailing out the banks. To the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars for each region, trillions globally. But just what do bail out and bailout mean?
bail someone/something out (phrasal verb): to free someone or something from a difficulty or problem. If you owe a friend $1000 that you cannot pay, and your dad comes along and pays the money for you—then you’ve just been bailed out, your dad bailed you out.
bailout (noun): financial assistance given to a failing business (or a failing country) to save it from collapse
Right now, governments of the world are taking tax-payers’ money and giving it to banks to bail them out because without the bailout—so the argument goes—the banks would collapse and the whole financial system of the world would come crashing down around our ears.
NB: these are not the only meanings for bail and bail out, but they’re the only ones that matter in the days of Armageddon 🙂
With all these trillions of dollars that banks have misplaced and central banks are throwing around, it’s getting difficult to keep track of the money. We used to talk in terms of millions, and sometimes billions. But these amounts now seem somehow inadequate, paltry almost. The new paradigm is trillion (preferably in pounds, but even dollars will do).
What is a trillion? The modern* trillion is a million million (1,000,000,000,000 or 10 to the power of 12).
Just to recap:
million: one thousand thousand (1,000,000) [pathetic!]
billion: one thousand million (1,000,000,000) [so 20th-century]
trillion: one million million (1,000,000,000,000) [a sensible figure to lose]
but wait for it…
quadrillion: one thousand trillion (1,000,000,000,000,000) [you’ll need this soon for the hyperinflation that’s coming]
* the “modern” trillion is American English and now used in British English. In old British English a trillion was a million million million (1,000,000,000,000,000,000)—a truly handsome figure that even Hank hasn’t managed to get his sticky fingers around yet.
Watching CNN (or one of the other cable channels endlessly broadcasting the end of the world as capitalism knows it) I heard one of the “expert commentators” describe last Thursday’s sell-off on the London Stock Exchange as “a bloodbath – sheer, unadulterated, willful panic”.
What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with “willful panic”? Please add your answers and comments.
(“When words lose their meaning, people lose their freedom.” Confucius)
The word “meltdown” is being bandied about a lot in relation to the current Wall Street crisis. What does it mean?
Let’s look at melt first. Melt is a verb: to melt. It means to change from solid to liquid, usually because of heat. So if you put an ice-cube outside in the sun it will melt. The ice will become water. When you light a candle, the solid wax of the candle melts and becomes liquid wax, running down the candle until it cools and solidifies again.
What about meltdown? Meltdown is a noun, with a technical meaning. A meltdown is an accident in a nuclear reactor in which the fuel becomes so hot that the core of the nuclear reactor melts, with potentially extremely serious (catastrophic) consequences.
What about a meltdown in Wall Street? There are no nuclear reactors in Wall Street, so what can it mean?
Wall Street is a street at the south end of Manhattan in New York City, and is home to the New York Stock Exchange and other leading United States financial institutions (major banks etc). When people talk about a “meltdown in Wall Street” they are using the word meltdown figuratively to mean “a catastrophic event, a disastrous collapse of the American financial system”.
A “quotation” is usually a short text – perhaps one or two sentences – written or spoken by one (usually famous) person and often repeated or at least known by others. Here are 7 of my favourite quotations, arranged (loosely) from humorous to serious. Have a look at them and try to understand them. You may know some of them already in your own language. Do you agree with Read on »
How do you use the Internet? What do you do? How often? Why? Do you mainly use the Internet to play games, find friends, learn online, shop online…? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of the Internet? Do you have any tips and suggestions you would like to give others?
This test only has one question, but it’s a very important one. By giving an honest answer, you will discover where you stand morally. The test features an unlikely, completely fictional situation in which you will have to make a decision.
Remember that your answer needs to be honest, yet spontaneous.
Please scroll down slowly and give due consideration to each line.
You are in England, York to be precise.
There is chaos all around you caused by a hurricane with severe flooding.
This is a flood of biblical proportions.
You are a photo-journalist working for a major newspaper, and you’re caught in the middle of this epic disaster. The situation is nearly hopeless.
You’re trying to shoot career-making photos.
There are houses and people swirling around you, some disappearing into the water.
Nature is unleashing all its destructive fury.
Suddenly, you see a man in the water.
He is fighting for his life, trying not to be taken down with the debris.
You move closer… Somehow, the man looks familiar…
You suddenly realize who it is… It’s Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister of the UK! You notice that the raging waters are about to take him under forever. You have two options:
You can save the life of Gordon Brown or you can shoot a dramatic Pulitzer Prize-winning photo, documenting the death of one of the country’s most powerful men!
Here’s the question, and please give an honest answer…
Would you select high contrast colour film, or would you go with the classic simplicity of black and white?