Poor Richard’s Debt Almanac


The debt crisis is likely to be with us for quite a while. And since TV talking heads speak in gobbledygook, what better than a layman’s glossary? Herewith:

Banks  Safehouses where hardworking individuals and corporations put their savings supposedly to discreetly finance other people’s worthy projects.

Bonds  Paper representing company or country debt bought and sold with interest paid to owners whose value peaks when repayment looks more and more unlikely.

Central Bank Each government’s own bank to protect the national prosperity by printing money at a proper level and manipulating it against other currencies.

Correction When the bottom falls out of the stock market, and small investors get caught with their pants down, not knowing whether to ride it on down and hope or sell at a loss.

Derivatives Bets on bets on bets hidden in computers until someone punches the wrong algorithm and all hell breaks loose.

Dollar The USA currency, devaluing in a deteriorating economy, but still the standard for international transactions and guarantee for other even weaker currencies.

ECB European Central Bank, the Euro mother bank unable to salvage bankrupt Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain and, perhaps, Italy, who can’t pay their bills because they borrowed too much elsewhere.

Euro The European Community’s common currency but uncommonly in trouble because 17 different finance ministries drive their countries’ earning and spending in different directions.

Financiers Technocrats who believe they have mastered markets in order to feather their own nests but in times of crisis panic endangering the system by calling for government handouts.

GDP Gross domestic product is an estimate of all national economic activity, often divided to give a widely used per person figure not revealing much about you and me.

Geithner The U.S. chief financial officer who is looking for a way to get off the Obama ship of state after his government bureaucratic instincts called all the shots wrong.

Gold It’s a precious [as in valuable not cute] metal which shines when polished whose value is considered immutable and therefore a refuge when currencies cheapen wherefore now at all time highs.

IMF The international money pot, the cavalry supposed to come to the rescue when individual donor members got into trouble before the whole caboodle got too big and complicated.

Inflation When too much money chases too little goods, the prices begin to spin upward and shortly get out of control if the government simply continues printing money to chase it.

Intervention When Central banks buy up or sell their own currency in order to halt, slow or accelerate its value against other currencies which often doesn’t work and results in further panic.

Merkel Germany’s chief executive whose training as a physicist in Communist East Germany hasn’t equipped her to keep pumping out exports to countries who can’t pay in order to maintain Europe’s largest economy’s prosperity.

Obama The American chief executive, the first in the 200-year history of The Republic who believes government directed redistribution of the fruits of citizens’ labor will insure future stability, prosperity, peace and justice.

RenMinBao Beijing’s currency, for which no one knows the value, only used in China except when held outside in the hope it can eventually be reinvested in China, but which is usually called the yuan.

Revenue The money coming into the government’s coffers – particularly in the US –enhanced only in periods of prosperity created by a government which promotes business and suckles taxpayers.

Stocks  Paper representing bets on the ability of corporations to profit under changing circumstances, swapped with fellow gamblers who think they know more than their trading partners.

Taxes   Money squeezed out of citizens to fund the commonwealth which when reaching exaggerated heights encourages government profligacy and citizens’ evasion blocking entrepreneurial talent.

“Terrorists” That’s what spendthrift liberal politicians call Congressmen who think they ought to stick by 2010 campaign promises to rein in Washington’s 75-year-old spending spree to pay off debts before drowning.

US Treasuries American government debt traded and still considered, despite all the US trials and tribulations, the better place to keep money as its current relatively low interest paid buyers indicates.

World Bank A collection of highly paid, income tax free Washington theoreticians which helped reconstruct Europe after WWII but mistakenly preached government to government lending could modernize backward economies and societies.

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