Archive for July, 2012

When the Chips Are Down

July 29, 2012

The Economist, June 23, 2012

Central banks:

When the chips are down

Frankfurt–The European Central Bank has unlimited firepower and limited inclination to use it.  The first of two articles on central banks explains the ECB’s thinking.  

“In 2008 and 2009, policymakers impressed markets with decisive action. Central banks moved swiftly to slash interest rates and extend liquidity, beefing up balance-sheets in the process.  Governments launched big stimulus programmes.  The G20 meeetings were a signal of a concerted determination to act.  

Things are different now.  At this week’s G20 summit in Mexico, more fingers were pointed than backs slapped.  Many governments are intent on tightening policy, not loosening it…  But, maddeningly, the institution that needs to do most–the European Central Bank–is hanging back even as the pressure on countries like Spain, whose sovereign-bond yields rose to euro-era highs this week, intensifies.” 

Gambling uses chips and so, apparently, do banks, but it depends how one plays them, and if they play them, or hold them back, waiting…

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Riding China’s Ad Wave

July 24, 2012

 More waves: surf’s up

The New York Times, Monday, July 23, 2012

 Business Day: Riding China’s Ad Wave

 As Fashion Magazines Thrive, U. S. Publisher’s Tolerate Censors, by Christine Haughney and Jonathan Landreth

 BEIJING–“Zena Hao, a 24 year-old publicist, avid follower of fashion trends and proud owner of four Prada handbags, has a new passion: fashion magazines…Ms. Hao’s enthusiasm for fashion magazines thick with advertisements for Louis Vuitton handbags and Chanel lipsticks are a welcome source of revenue for magazine publishers based in New York.  While fashion magazines are spending more on magazine advertising in the United States, they’re pouring even more money into magazines across mainland China.  

Publishers willing to contend with censorship, relationships with local business partners and low-level corruption common in many Chinese businesses are being rewarded so far.”

 According to this article, “advertising spending for women’s consumer magazines jumped 16.9 percent through June 1, even when demand to advertise in technology and business magazines slowed.”  This is true even though magazine advertising gets a smaller percentage of advertising than other media, such as television.  

 This market may change if China’s economy slows, “But for now, as long as their stories of movie stars and fashion trends steer clear of censors, the magazine industry is enjoying the profits.” 

And riding the wave of consumerism.  For more on surfing and surfing metaphors, please go to the site, http://www.sportsidoms.com.

Wells Is Surfing a Mortgage-Banking Wave

July 15, 2012

Wall Street Journal, Friday, July 13, 2012

MONEY & INVESTING: AHEAD OF THE TAPE, By David Reilly

Wells is Surfing a Mortgage-Banking Wave

“There will be plenty of waves washing over U.S. banks Friday.  First will be the wake generated by trading losses from J.P.Morgan Chase and Co.’s ‘London whale,”  leading to a charge of around $5 billion, according to CEO James Dimon.  

“Wells Fargo & Co., also reporting Friday, will catch a different sort of wave–one of continued strength in mortgage banking.”  According to this article, Wells Fargo is the largest mortgage originator:  In the first quarter of this year,  mortgage income of $2.6 billion, equaling almost 25% of non-interest income, nearly doubled the year-earlier level.  In the second quarter, mortgage income could rise a further 10%, according to Moshe Orenbuch, bank analyst at Credit Suisse, who also expects similar growth at U.S. Bancorp, reporting results next week.

The worry is, according to this article, that the refinancing wave will “peter out….But that looks to be more of a concern for next year.  For now, even with many other banking businesses beached, surf’s up for mortgage banking.”

I wonder if David Reilly, the author of this article, surfs and lives near the ocean, perhaps in California.  This article is loaded with surfing metaphors.  Surfing itself depends on good waves;  if the surf is good with steady large waves, a good surfer does well.  In banks, if the economy is rising, and mortgages profitable, it will ride a wave of profits.  If, on the other hand, a “whale” appears, whether oceanic or a rogue trader, the “wake” affects the waves and profits will “peter out.”

Game Changers: Health Laws, NFL Rules, and Pros vs. Student Athletes

July 12, 2012

The Wall Street Journal likes using “Game Changers” as headlines.  This makes sense as metaphors highlight concepts in articles making content easier for readers.

Health-Care Law’s Game-Changing Tax:  Laura Saunders

June 29, 2012:  “WSJ’s Laura Saunders digs deep inside the affordable health-care law affirmed by The Supreme Court this week and reveals a little-known tax that many call a game-changer.”  Long term capital gains will change from 15% to 18.8%.

Game Changer: NFL Scrambles to Fill Seats, by Kevin Clark

“Professional football, America’s most popular and profitable sport, is preparing to tackle a glaring weakness: Stadiums are increasingly empty.  The idea is that bolstering cell reception and adding wireless will enable fans to re-create the living room in their stadium seats. Fans can receive highlights and replays of the game on the field, or other games across the country. Pete Ward, chief operating officer of the Colts, said this year that the team will unleash a new app for on-demand highlights for fans at the game. ‘Your smartphone is your replay screen in our stadium,.’  Mr. Ward said.

 Game-Changers: Average Joes Take On Former Pros

When Top-Tier Athletes Play Around, Competition Heightens; ‘He Crushed It, By Stu Woo and Justin Scheck

“STANFORD, Calif.—Yesol Huh walked into a gym here for an intramural-basketball game last year, eager to help her team notch its first victory.

Then she spotted the opposing center. Ex-NBA player Mark Madsen, left, who played briefly in a rec league, was recently hired as an assistant coach for the Stanford men’s basketball team.

He was 6-foot-9 and warmed up by violently dunking the ball in the Stanford University court. ‘We’re never winning this game,’ Ms. Huh recalls thinking.

Her prediction was a slam-dunk: The center was Mark Madsen, a former player in the National Basketball Association. Mr. Madsen ‘had such good rebounding instincts, we eventually gave up and let him have every one,’ says Travis Johnson, one of Ms. Huh’s teammates. Their side lost by 30 points.”

Game Changer: NFL Scrambles to Fill Seats, by Kevin Clark

“Professional football, America’s most popular and profitable sport, is preparing to tackle a glaring weakness: Stadiums are increasingly empty.  The idea is that bolstering cell reception and adding wireless will enable fans to re-create the living room in their stadium seats. Fans can receive highlights and replays of the game on the field, or other games across the country. Pete Ward, chief operating officer of the Colts, said this year that the team will unleash a new app for on-demand highlights for fans at the game. ‘Your smartphone is your replay screen in our stadium,.’  Mr. Ward said.

Slam dunk is a basketball term.  Go to http://www.sportsidioms to see the definition.  Scroll down to “s”.

How about playing the game?  You the reader can add game idioms used as headlines or within the media, for example: gaming the system, game on, etc. 

The Count: Pitchmen for the One-Percent Crowd

July 12, 2012

The Wall Street Journal, July 5, 2012:  SPORTS

The Count:  Pitchmen for the One-Percent Crowd, by Stu Wu

This was written about a week ago during Wimbledon tennis before Roger Federer won the Men’s Singles Title at Wimbledon, raising him to number one in tennis in the world.  However, it is still a good article to highlight how sports metaphors “play” in newspaper headlines.  The idea of the article is that the top tennis players’ endorse “ridiculously expensive stuff.” 

“Tennis is considered a sport of the moneyed, and you’d need a lot to afford what Djokovic (at the time of the article, number one) pitches.”  Among his sponsors are Piguet, whose priciest timepiece is $1.3 million, and a Learjet costing $68.9 million. Roger Federer is a “spokesman for Rolex and Mercedes-Benz.”  Andy Murray has a deal with Jaguar, and Rafael Nadal has lend his name to a Richard Mille watch that costs. $590,000.  The article states, also, that Djokovic and Nadal also have deals with lower priced merchandise.

I really like this title.  It’s very clever using sports metaphors for tennis derived from other sports such as baseball.    The count refers to strikes and balls in baseball, and the pitchmen baseball players.

Banks Lowballing Interest Rates

July 8, 2012

The Wall Street Journal, Friday, July 6, 2012

OPINION: REVIEW & OUTLOOK:  Barclay’s Bank Bash

Apparently, large banks “on both sides of the Atlantic were not accurately reporting the rates at which they were able to borrow from other banks…large banks to make themselves appear healthier than they were, claimed to be able to borrow at rates lower than the market was offering them…A 2008 phone call from a Bank of England official was interpreted by one senior Barclays official as encouraging the bank to low-ball its reported rate.”

New York Times, Editorials/Letters, Friday, July 6, 2012

Bank Scandal Deepens

…”On Wednesday, the deposed chief executive of Barclays, Robert Diamond Jr., presented documents and testimony to a British parliamentary committee, saying it had advised both the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York about low-balled interest rates by banks across Wall Street.  

Here the idioms to low-ball (verb)  and low-balled (adjective) interest rates are being used in possible bank regulatory offences. The definition of to low-ball something is to underestimate or understate (a cost) deliberately.  It is used most commonly by stating offers as low-ball offers on perhaps a property or business transaction.  The game of poker has lowball poker games that reward low poker hands.  Early railroad signals used balls to indicate whether the train should stop or not.  A lowered ball was the signal to stop.

Health Battle Enters Round 2

July 1, 2012

The Wall Street Journal, Saturday/Sunday, June 30-July 1, 2012

WEEKEND

Health Battle Enters Round 2, by Louise Radnofsky and Christopher Weaver

“A new front opened Friday in efforts to reshape how the federal government implements President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul now that the Supreme Court has ruled to keep the law in place.  

Employers, insurers, hospitals, drug makers and others are angling for an advantage as the government writes the regulations and sets the policies that will bring the law to life.”

Round one was the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold “The Affordable Care Act of 2010” or as it has been popularly labeled, “Obama Care.”   Round 2 is outlined in paragraph 2 above, when regulations and policies are formulated with input from those most impacted.  Boxing matches can have more than 1 and 2 rounds depending on the level of the fights, championship fights could go 15, most are 10, smaller fights are less.

Full House: $1 Million Hold ‘Em Ante

July 1, 2012

The Wall Street Journal, Saturday/Sunday June 30-July 1, 2012

Business & Finance:  Full House: $1 Million Hold ‘Em Ante, by Alexandra Berzon

“Full House:  Poker Tournament’s Ante Lure’s Investors”

This Sunday “at least 24 professional poker players and 22 amateurs put up $1 million apiece for the chance to win millions in The Big One for One Drop tournament.  The buy-in is four times the previous record for a poker tournament.”  

This is really not used in a metaphorical or idiomatic sense in this article, as ante, an initial bid, is used in poker.  Ante can be used idiomatically in a business transaction when someone puts an offer on a table for a product or for a particular business they want.  “They anted up, so now it is imperative to make an offer.”