Philippa Thomas Online

Occasional thoughts about life, books and news.

Having fun learning “How to Speak Money”

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I really enjoyed meeting author John Lanchester in the TV studio last night. I thoroughly enjoyed the insights of his novel “Capital” into the different tribes of modern Londoners. Now I can also recommend “How to Speak Money”, after speed reading the book in 24 hours, learning a lot, and laughing out loud at a surprising number of entries. Here are a few of the nuggets….

Why a meeting about ABENOMICS will always be packed. Why AUSTERITY is the strangest economic term to come along in his lifetime. Why talking about BASIS POINTS is a good start for bluffers. What it means to BEGGAR THY NEIGHBOUR. The Economists’ “BIG MAC” INDEX. Why you mustn’t be the “South Park” underpants gnomes. The definition of CREDIT DEFAULT SWAP in a phrase. Who was CHOCFINGER. Why we might need to behave COUNTER-CYCLICALLY in a crunch (and not DELEVERAGE). DEAD CAT BOUNCE (“If you’re wondering who on earth would be so sick as to come up with a metaphor like that, greetings, and welcome to the world of money”.) Do you know EVERY ECONOMISTS FAVOURITE JOKE? What a bank is doing with EXTEND AND PRETEND? Do you ever think your bosses are FAILING UPWARDS? (“This happens a lot in British public life.. I bet you can think of your own examples”). The shiver down your spine when you realise you’ve made a FAT-FINGER MISTAKE. The rise in your blood pressure when you read Forbes “COST OF LIVING EXTREMELY WELL INDEX”. The pleasure of saying PARADIS FISCAUX even if you don’t have access to one. Why we in Britain may be in the middle of a PLOG. What financial scandal cost twice as much as the London Olympics? And why we should all know what SHADOW BANKING is ( if you heard it here first, remember it!). What links TULIPS and DERIVATIVES? And why it’s handy to have a handle on the TYRANNY OF SUNK COSTS.

John also spoke movingly about the young on the streets in Hong Kong today – the city where he grew up, focus of his novel “Fragrant Harbour” – and the way in which they are finding & defining their own political identity, and defying those who would have them simply conform.

Author: philippathomas

I've been a BBC newswoman for 28 years: reporting from around the world. Currently to be seen anchoring BBC World News TV. Main interests - politics, diplomacy, tech, media, arts and all things American. I began this personal blog as a 2011 Nieman Journalism Fellow at Harvard. You can also find me talking daily news on Twitter at @PhilippaBBC, and sharing anything from travel photos to my year in books on Instagram at @philippanews. Thanks for reading!

One thought on “Having fun learning “How to Speak Money”

  1. It rather reminded me of a 2014 version of Parkinson’s Law – a veritable Law unto Itself!

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