Menopause, impotence and other useful economic terms


The deputy governor of the Bank of England has been forced to apologise after using the word “menopausal ” to describe an economy past its productive peak. Ben Broadbent said he had used the term only to explain another similar term, “climacteric”, which is gender neutral but less well known. Nevertheless he was widely criticised for using lazy, sexist and demeaning language. In an attempt to prevent a repetition, the Bank of England is now rolling out a suite of male, female and gender neutral metaphors to ensure that future offence is given on a more equal basis.

Impotence: A serious problem, especially in a pre-climacteric economy. An underperforming economy is distressing for all parties. This kind of dysfunction can be either structural or cyclical or psychological. But once it occurs, the psychological factors can become dominant even if the initial causes were underlying. In this sense, it is seriously possible to talk an economy down, but much trickier to talk it up. Some success may be achieved by varying the economic stimuli. This might include interest rate cuts or role play. This last might involve dressing up as the chancellor of the exchequer and talking suggestively about economic growth on budget day. If all else fails there is always Viagra, but this can lead to overheating.

Male menopause: This is a dangerous condition for a mature economy. After years of happy, steady and sober growth the economy tires of spending all its time with all its usual mates and the wife it has been with for 20 years. It dumps the lot and takes up with a younger or more radical economy it met online. It might start dressing like a Venezuelan or hanging out with South Sudan and going to rock concerts. It sheds its flag of symmetrical designs in favour of an abstract design by a hip new artist and buys a sports car. Friends are surprised by the economy’s new haircut and its sudden penchant for yoga, helicopters and helicopter money. Freed from the shackles of staid and conventional monetary policy, it splurges on expensive investments like a Fender Stratocaster or high-speed rail network.

Obesity: This is an economy that has let itself go; an economy which has given up going to the gym and is too heavily dependent on house price inflation and junk commodities like lightly regulated financial products. Many blame debt addiction and point out that unhealthy economies are often characterised by shelves full of leveraged loans or offers from QuickQuid near the checkout aisles at supermarkets. Some economies are exhibiting dangerously high body mass indices, with debt-to-GDP ratios in excess of 90 per cent. Such economies must consume 10 per cent of their own body weight each day just to manage the interest payments.

Hot flushes: A classic monetary condition in which an economy suddenly overheats and throws off the duvet in the middle of the coldest night of the year shouting, “Can’t we open a damn window in here?” Economic hot flushes can be caused by spicy food, stress, alcohol or overheating in the buy-to-let market.

Narcolepsy: A narcoleptic economy is one given to sudden bouts of weakness and fatigue. Historically, productive economies can succumb to narcolepsy if their major industries no longer power ahead of the rest of the world. A narcoleptic economy will not so much fall suddenly asleep as exist in a half-zone where it is not quite asleep, but not fully awake.

Gender fluidity: The economy refuses to be defined by behavioural stereotypes and insists on its right to express itself beyond strict societal norms of behaviour. Gender fluid economies are sometimes deflationary and at other times inflationary. Deal with it, ok!

Narcissistic Personality Disorder: (Tricky this, as I promised the opinion editor not to write about Brexit this week). An NPD economy is prone to exaggerating its own importance; is preoccupied with fantasies of success and power; sees itself as special and has unreasonable expectations of favourable treatment; requires constant attention and admiration from others; and lacks empathy. There is no cure for this, but very long transition periods can mitigate the worst effects. So no Brexit connotations here whatsoever.

robert.shrimsley@ft.com


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Menopause, impotence and other useful economic terms

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