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2008: A year when biz words became buzzwords!

business Updated: Dec 16, 2008 13:44 IST

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The turmoil in the world economy has done what economists and experts could not do for years -- pushing into the day-to-day life numerous financial jargons, many of which have even become household words now.

Thanks to the quantum of problem and subsequent interest and impact for one and all -- right from the policy-makers to business honchos to a common man, it is no surprise that 'Bailout' and 'Credit Crunch' have been crowned separately as the 'words of the year' for 2008.

Similarly, MTM or 'Mark-To-Market' has moved out of the companies' balance-sheets to jump onto the lips of billions of investors, who are no more interested in just knowing what losses have they booked, but also what is their current 'notional value', which could become a reality later.

With the crisis pushing economic news out of the business section to the front pages of newspapers, 'toxic' assets are also no longer confused with the assets of companies involved in the business of some deadly acids. Toxic still means deadly, but it is something that could bring the banks to death with their inherent risk.

At the same time, short-selling is not about the sale- purchase of small pants, but betting that the value of the shares one wants to purchase would go lower or shorter.

Thanks to the crises and the space devoted to them in the media, many people had to go digging in 2008 for the meanings of hundreds of the financial jargons and are hoping to be wiser in 2009... And the year is almost in New Delhi.

Besides, there were terms like subprime, derivatives, CDS (Credit Default Swaps), futures and options, Chapter 11 (a filing for bankruptcy), hedge funds, leveraging, repo and reverse repo, Libor, securitisation, SPIVs (special purpose investment vehicles), decoupling and many more hogging the limelight.

Some innovative terms also entered the dictionary, such as staycation (spending a vacation staying at home due to cash crunch) and fakeaway (having home-made food assuming it to be take-away from a restaurant), along with TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program), write-down (of bad assets), unwinding (selling positions) and liquidity crunch.

The financial crisis also guided many such jargons, including stagflation, Funt, Ninja Loans and Jingle Mail, to dictionary expert Susie Dent's 100 Words of the Year, which has 'credit crunch' on the top for 2008.

At the same time, Merriam-Webster dictionary has chosen 'bailout' as the top word of the year for 2008. Besides, Oxford University Press, publisher of Dent's Words of the Year book, termed 'credit crunch' as word of the year and said it is "the word that is on everyone's lips at the moment".

"The world's financial markets have been one of the biggest generators of vocabulary in the past year... As fears of recession escalate, it may be productivity of the linguistic kind that is the safest bet," Dent said, adding that 'credit crunch' is an example of an established term being resurrected in the current circumstances.

While stagflation is a term of stagnant economic growth with rising inflation, Funt is a short form for Financial Untouchable, and Ninja Loans stands for loans given to people with No Income, No Job, No Assets.

Jingle Mail is described as returning the keys to a mortgage firm after occupant of the house is not in a position to pay the loan.

Some other new entries in the list are IPOD (acronym for insecure, pressured, over-taxed and debt-ridden), homedebtor (homeowner with a large mortgage that is unlikely to be ever paid) and exploding arm (floating home loan rate that soon rise beyond the borrower's ability to pay).