Posted by: rbbadger | February 13, 2010

How to speak Greenspeak

Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, was well known for his convoluted sentences and ambiguous remarks.  Rather than coming out and stating something in clear terms, Greenspan would deliver a highly nuanced response, one which made it difficult, if not impossible to figure out what he was talking about.

The American humor columnist Dave Barry has a rather humorous take on Greenspan.  Comparing him to Punxetawny Phil, the famous Pennsylvania groundhog who is allegedly blessed with meteorological prognosticatory gifts, speaks of how Greenspan emerges from his hole and makes an ambiguous remark which the market interprets in various ways.  According to Barry, once Greenspan posed a riddle and immediately sent the world’s markets into a tailspin.

Antony Mueller, an economist teaching in Brazil, has come up with a sort of satire on the Greenspan approach to communications.  When his wife asks if he has seen her cell phone, he now responds as follows:

“The problem with cell phones is that they get easily lost, because they are so small and technological progress makes them smaller every year – no wonder that once they are lost, they are hard to find. We shall finds means, though, to find it, don’t worry.”

For those of you who take an interest in economic matters, I think that you very well might enjoy Mueller’s homage to the man who brought us such phrases as “irrational exuberance” and who referred to unexpected problems as “conundrums”.

You can see it by clicking here.


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