It melts in the mouth
September 25, 2008
Is it just me, or does “credit crunch” sound like a type of biscuit?1 Perhaps “credit crunch” is preferred to alternative constructions — say, “credit crash” or “debt disaster” – for the same that depressions were renamed recessions in the 20th century, as dsquared (who, disappointingly though for excellent reasons, is refusing to talk about crunchy news at the moment) informed us a while back. No need to make a scary situation even scarier by saying out loud how scary it is.
As it happens, the term was already in use as long ago as 1967, when the Chicago Tribune printed the headline, spooky in hindsight: “Fannie Mae Boss Fears Credit Crunch“. Google News’s timeline of the phrase shows another spike of usages in the early 1990s, until the modern flurry begins around August 2007.
No doubt there is all sorts of interesting Unspeak being engineered for the current crisis2. John Quiggin over at CT has been kind enough to prod me, pointing out the current appeals to some weird notion of a “clean bailout”, which puts me in mind of something to do with filtering bilgewater, though I am not a seaman so can’t quite see that one through. I did notice that, in the context of the US Treasury buying out the banks’ toxic “assets”, a “reasonable price” has been redefined as “a price higher than anyone in their right mind actually wants to pay”, which I suppose goes to show that “reasonable” is (as always) a moveable feast. What other financial Unspeak have you noticed recently, readers?