Friday, December 26, 2008

due diligence - noun

The oversight appropriate to a money-making opportunity, i.e. cost-cutting and maximally efficient. Whatever supervision is sufficient to allay investors without expending further time and money.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

troubled – adjective

Worthless, nugatory; bogus.

(See also distressed, toxic, illiquid.)

COMMENT: "Troubled asset" is, strictly speaking, a contradiction in terms.

Friday, December 19, 2008

bridge loan – noun

Short-term financing that takes a company from one insolvent shore, safely spans the turbid waters of liquidation, and delivers it to the opposite insolvent shore.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

pension fund – noun

An investment pool set aside by an employer to serve as collateral for a leveraged buyout.

securitize – verb

1. To purchase, facelift, and flip a set of mortgages or loans.

2. To pass the buck, to dodge, to cop out.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

deposit – noun

Money placed at a bank as collateral for highly leveraged investments.

COMMENT: Deposits are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government. This is perhaps why Americans have an exceedingly low savings rate.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

bankruptcy – noun

1. (individual) A state of moral degeneracy, in which a person willfully and without conscience incurs debt he cannot repay.

2. (corporate) A brief period of financial restructuring; a fiscal hiccup.

executive compensation – noun

Payment to an executive for loss or suffering incurred from interaction with middle management, staff, and other rabble.

Monday, December 15, 2008

rating agency – noun

An advertising firm that specializes in the sale of bonds.

Issuers thus were forced to seek credit ratings (or else their bonds would not be marketable). The agencies—realizing they had a hot product and, what's more, a captive market—started charging the very organizations whose bonds they were rating. — Roger Lowenstein

incentivize – verb

(Also: "incent")

To entice someone to do something he would normally abhor, such as acting for the good of the public or of the company for which he works.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

core values – noun

The values one holds with the greatest irony.

complex – adjective (reprise)

Sufficiently obscure to couch financial risk.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

subprime – adjective

Below optimal in credit, but above optimal in naivete.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

financial – adjective

(Etymology: Latin finis "end, utmost limit, highest point")

Having to do with the ultimate ends or limits of human existence; existential.

USAGE: Personal financial crisis, if accumulated to too many folks, hurts our country.— President Bush

Blaming speculators as a response to financial crisis goes back at least to the Greeks. It's almost always the wrong response.—Larry Summers

Saturday, November 8, 2008

footnote – noun

A comment affixed to the bottom of a page that discusses something tangential to the main text, e.g. a statement of losses on a balance sheet.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Is diplomacy in the lexicon?

Commenter "funnyme" responds to an Obama-McCain discussion on the Napa Valley Register's website:

Is the word "Diplomacy" in a TERRORIST's dictionary?

No, it's not.

Uh, yes, it is.

Friday, October 24, 2008

moral compass – noun

A guidance mechanism that indicates which direction is morally right, so that one can plot the course he wishes to take and tack accordingly.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

can – verb

Occurs in at least one of an infinite number of possible worlds (but not necessarily in the actual one).

voter – noun

1. A node in a causal nexus that begins with visual and audible stimuli and ends with an arm pulling a lever.

2. A celebrant in a collective prayer for public relief.

appraisal – noun

The rigorous computation of a property's value based on a careful weighing of equivalently inflated comparables.

Monday, October 20, 2008

exaggerated – adjective

Politically damning, but generally unknown.

normalcy – noun

The state of being as dysfunctional as usual.

home — noun

A structured investment vehicle.

I think the Inland Empire needs an agricultural adjustment company. If you remember, Roosevelt recognized - I think somewhat incorrectly - that if we had to plow crops under in order to be able to raise the price of crops. ...

We need to like plow over the Inland Empire, because there's so many more homes. And the homebuilders have way too much inventory.
-- Jim Cramer

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

adviser – noun

1. One who provides rationales for actions already taken by another.

2. One who guesses what another believes and pronounces this on his behalf to the public.

I have plenty of advisers, but I only listen to one of them—the one I take a shower with every morning. --Donald Rumsfeld

Friday, July 18, 2008

expert – noun

A person with specialized knowledge about a particular subject that qualifies him to opine about anything and everything.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

social networking – noun

1. A method for testing one's popularity and status.

2. A means of keeping in contact with friends without having to interact with them.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

gentrification – noun

The ethnic cleansing of a neighborhood through rental pricing.

pro bono – adjective

(Etymology: Latin "for the good.") Law––For the good of one's own reputation.

humility – noun

The inability to articulate one's feelings of superiority over others.

humanitarian intervention – noun

The slaughter of tens of thousands to prevent the slaughter of thousands.

Monday, May 5, 2008

article – noun

A published appeal for an advertisement.

Monday, April 21, 2008

ombudsman – noun

A spokesperson hired by a newspaper to defend its practices against the slanders of its readership.

As a columnist, Mr. Brooks is entitled to his opinions, as readers are entitled to disagree with them. In this specific case, he quite clearly was using this writerly device to indicate his belief that critics of neo-conservatives think all neo-conservatives are Jewish. Thank you for your comments.

analyst – noun

Someone whose resumé bestows a veneer of objectivity to his sales pitches.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Diversion: Earl Scruggs and the Byrds

misspeak – verb

To say something that garners negative publicity and polls poorly.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

leadership – noun

The ability to direct credit towards oneself and blame to others.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

hope – noun

An idle wish that the future, contrary to the laws of induction, be less wretched than the past and present.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Diversion: Wilco

The last three years have been difficult. Probable back surgery is the latest turn.

At least there's music.

I know you're not listening
No I know you're not listening

kill - verb

To cause death without guilt.

COMMENT: Murder is, of course, one of the most egregious sins. One way to avoid it is not to kill people. The other is to kill so indiscriminately that the act becomes disconnected from intent, and therefore from guilt. Both are socially acceptable.

At least 21 civilians, including six children, have been killed in US air strikes in Afghanistan ... The deaths brought the total of civilian deaths to almost 100 in the past two weeks ... A spokesman for the US forces, Major William Mitchell, declared that the troops had killed a "significant" number of insurgents in firefights and the subsequent bombing. "We don't have any reports of civilian casualties" he said. " There are enemy casualties - I think the number is significant."

personal responsibility – noun

1. The capacity to accept blame for being victimized.

2. The solipsist's virtue.

3. A developed sense of deference to private-property rights.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Diversion: "Crying" by Roy Orbison

green-collar job – noun

Service employment at an organic-food establishment.

reverend – noun

1. A person who quotes the Bible, pontificates about morals, seeks donations, but doesn't run for public office.

2. A person deserving of the same awe and respect one has for non-existent objects.

3. A stand-up comic with a religious routine.

4. An expert consultant on sex and graft scandals.

lame duck – noun

The main character of a satyr play that follows a tragic trilogy.

Friday, March 28, 2008

unknown unknown – noun

Something that one doesn't know that one doesn't know (e.g. anything one thinks one knows).

The Unknown

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

—Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing
(h/t to Slate)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

pastor – noun

The shepherd of a flock that he regularly fleeces for money.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

candidate – noun

A person so committed to public service that he will elbow and slander anyone who gets in his way.

Friday, March 14, 2008

x-ray – noun

1. A guarantor of public trust.

2. A machine that photographs the self.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

memoir – noun

A genre of sci-fi fantasy literature that uses first-person narrative.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

waterboarding – noun (reprise)

Baptism for the recalcitrant.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

change – noun

A process whereby something sheds one appearance for another while remaining essentially the same (cf. Aristotle Physics I).

I want to do everything I can to help deliver the change America needs. -- Rahm Emanuel

Friday, February 22, 2008

independent – adjective

Not requiring control or influence, due to predictability of behavior.