Presenting The Broke Bureaucrat Babel Fish: The Ten Most Misunderstood Euro Phrases Translated Into Americanish

Tyler Durden's picture

Of all cunning linguists, Bloomberg's Jon Weil may be the cunningest. You see, the savvy news reporter has figured out that the reason there is zero policy coordination, and whenever Tim Geithner gets involved, negative, is not so much due to the fact that we have two broke ponzi continents trying to outsmart each other as to who is least broke, but, lo and behold, because we speak different languages. In Weil's cunning words, "It’s bad enough for average Americans that most European leaders speak English with heavy accents. What’s worse, even when we can make out the words they utter, it’s almost always impossible to figure out what these officials are really saying. That’s because they’re speaking in Euro-ese. Fortunately, there is an answer to their endless riddles: a Euro-to-English dictionary, excerpts of which I have included below. (Click here to read about its close linguistic cousin: the Goldman Sachs dictionary.) To truly see the meaning of the seismic events rapidly reshaping Europe, you must know what the following 10 Euro terms of art mean in plain American English:" So for the sake of the future of the great Developed Nation KomIntern, here are the ten most misinterpreted phrases...

Per Jonathan Weil:

1. Finance ministry: A house of worship where government leaders go to pray for bailouts, economic miracles, panaceas and other forms of divine intervention.


How to use in a sentence: Officials at the Greek Finance Ministry said they remain hopeful the country will receive its next batch of rescue loans in time to avoid a cataclysmic default.


2. Coordinated: Chaotic, unfocused, brain-dead, paralyzed to the point of nonexistence; even in its best moments resembling a hopeless klutz.


Example: Finance ministers from the Group of 20 nations last week said they were “committed to a strong and coordinated international response to address the renewed challenges facing the global economy.”


3. Firewall: A partition made of fireproof material to prevent the spread of flames from one place to another. Of no use in containing a financial crisis, except as vague public- relations catnip for readers of news articles who can’t tell the difference between napalm and a 10-year bond.


Usage: U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who is fluent in both Euro and Mandarin, last weekend urged euro-area nations “to create a firewall against further contagion.”


4. Contagion: A financially transmitted psychiatric condition, marked by intense fear of losing everything. Only known treatments in use at the moment are firewalls, rather than anything that actually works.


5. Peripheral country: A core, indispensable member of the European Union. Related word: Sovereign, meaning German or subservient to Germany.


Example: “Although some peripheral countries in Europe continue to experience acute pressure on their sovereign debts, the risk of a broader contagion throughout the area did not materialize,” Italy’s finance minister, Giulio Tremonti, said April 16, four months before Europe’s central bank rescued Italy via large, open-market purchases of Italian government bonds.


6. Stability mechanism: A wooden paddle ball, mainly used for contests between office workers to see how many times they can bounce the little rubber ball off the paddle without missing; also advertised as a cure-all device for comatose economies.


Usage: The European Stability Mechanism, due to take effect in 2013 as a permanent successor to the region’s current bailout fund, will have a “lasting, stabilizing, confidence-creating function,” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told reporters on Sept. 24.


7. TORRP: The much-awaited European version of TARP. Abbreviation derived from the second letter of each of the following countries’ names: Italy, Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain.


Rumored to stand for Troubled Obligation Relief Relief Program, providing relief from the relief. In fact, it stands for nothing in particular, like other government institutions. Unlike the U.S. Troubled Asset Relief Program, any TORRP money distributed to European banks is guaranteed never to be repaid.


8. Controlled default: The act of telling another country’s government that it’s OK to stiff most creditors, and then watching with morbid fascination to see if the global banking system falls apart. Originally an aviation term used to describe the final landing of the Hindenburg, which crashed all by itself without taking any other zeppelins with it.


9. Recapitalize: To transfer money from a country’s middle- class taxpayers to an insolvent bank -- in essence, a bribe to bondholders and senior management -- as a way of ensuring that the wealthy don’t rise up and oust the government.


Related term: Austerity. As in, an economic-stimulus program that involves doing exactly the same thing, except the money comes from the citizens of a different country, such as Greece, who are left to subsist on a diet of untreated water and surplus rice.


Usage: “More banks may need to be recapitalized,” European Union Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said Sept. 20 at a press conference in Brussels. “That’s why it’s so important to solve the sovereign-debt crisis without a delay.”


10. Covered-bond purchase program: Forget it, way too complicated to explain here.


Just remember this. The EU and its member nations’ finance ministries are proceeding with their coordinated efforts to erect firewalls, and will never permit contagion to spread beyond the euro area’s peripheral countries. Remain calm. All is well. Everything is under control.

The conclusion:

In addition to their plans to recapitalize Europe’s banks and revitalize the region’s economies, through TORRP and the European Stability Mechanism, there’s always the fallback option of a prepackaged, orderly, controlled default by Greece, even if Europe’s leaders aren’t ready to say so publicly yet. What’s important to keep in mind is that we’re all in this together, regardless of whether you can understand a word any of these people are saying.

In retrospect it is so much easier to interpret our own batch of politidiots: if the lips are moving, you know they are lying. All else is noise.

Read the full Weil thing here.

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GeneMarchbanks's picture

No consequences though. So until there actually is retaliation(real, not occupy WS), on either continent, you can bet the same continues on. Endless bureaucracy suffocates all of humanity.

Cynical Sidney's picture

Take what you can, give nothing back!

up is down, down is up



Hugh_Jorgan's picture

7. TORRP: The much-awaited European version of TARP. Abbreviation derived from the second letter of each of the following countries’ names: Italy, Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain."

He forgot to add this: "Not to be confused with "torpor" which is often used to describe the state of the (post TARP) US economy."


MillionDollarBonus_'s picture

In order to help recapitalise banks, the ECB would be wise to ease collateral requirements. One idea would be for the ECB offer loans with existing debt instruments as collateral. That way banks can borrow more which will help with recapitalization, and governments can pledge their bonds as collateral to borrow even more in order to pay off earlier creditors. The net effect is that struggling banks receive critical bond payments, and governments are able to meet their obligations. Its a win-win for everyone.

Cynical Sidney's picture

vote down this foo please. million dollar bonus == timothy geithner's new social media director

yeah levereging the eurotarp is a win win situation alright; would work great for germans no?

end the fiat enslavement or the youth will revolt

MillionDollarBonus_'s picture

Many German banks are heavily exposed to Greek debt. Not only that, but a Greek default could trigger a series of defaults throughout Europe, which would be catastrophic for their balance sheets. The German people are smart - they know that their banks are simply TOO BIG TO FAIL. Germans were wise enough to elect economically literate politicians who understand the implications of a Greek default, and courageously voted for further investment in the EFSF, despite the relentless attacks by nasty right-wing libertarians.

Ghordius's picture

"economically literate politicians" ??? I beg to differ.

The German Government still sells the story that it's all "in order to save the EUR" - if they would sell it as "in order to save the big banks" they would have a completely different situation.

Courage? Perhaps. Foolishness in thinking they can help the Greeks? Lots.

I listened to the parliamentary debate and for the first time I had to agree with the German Neo-Communists - this hurts...


RemiG2010's picture

I haven't watched the debate, but Merkel, the rest of the "economically literate politicians" in Buntestag should know one thing. If Greece and the rest of the PIIGS go down, German new Deutchmark will be so strong, that it will kill economy in just few years and then we're all going back to the first half of last century!

Ghordius's picture

I know this might sound outlandish:

1) sovereign defaults don't necessarily change the currency - and most of the times don't

2) Germany is the only country which could "kill" the EUR - they won't, not yet

3) this meme of "devalue the currency, quick, or the economy tanks" is as true as "open the credit spigots, quick, or the economy tanks" - it does not last - it's all temporary.

Wait until all currencies will have to fight the same battle uphill instead of downhill - read about how Soros made a fortune by shorting the British Pound, for example. And try to remember that in those days 10 bn bucks were a gigantic amount of money. Nowadays, it would be idiotic because all currencies are fightiing to go down.

RemiG2010's picture

1) in case of Euro one does. It is called Italy! And that equals game over for European currency, whether Germans like it or not.

Vergeltung's picture

"and then we're all going back to the first half of last century!"


well, let's get it done right this time.

derDeutsche's picture

jawohl, dieses mal werden wir gewinnen!



Cynical Sidney's picture

yeah real smart. leverage eurotarp keep uping the ante, kick it down the road until it collapases and defaults, have the next generation pay for them. what's the youth unemployment rate in eurozone? what about the US? what's the extent of economic stratification in the US? what you do plan to do with the 'reserve army of labour' created?

2b2f are called that because they are too big to be saved. like i said earlier up is down, down is up :)

call me what you will; but your policies take the world toward default, revolution and war, i'm trying to avert disaster

Ghordius's picture

"your policies take the world toward default"

wait a moment, you can't have it both ways - the ECB easing he proposes means heading towards inflation/stagflation, not deflations & defaults

and he has a cool avatar ;-)

Cynical Sidney's picture

yes you can have it both ways; like bisexuals and mixflation. ecb easing bastardizes the euro, and also means higher unemployment and decreased purchasing power.

"sovereign defaults don't necessarily change the currency - and most of the times don't" u are despicable.

Ghordius's picture

Why despicable? It's about history. If a country defaults, it's about the bonds, not the FX. I know it's not part of the "common theme" in the current blogs, still, look it up.

Alea Iactaest's picture

Did you forget to put /s at the end of your post?

Toolshed's picture

It amazes me how so many people take MDB's comments seriously. It is obviously satirical baiting. And well done I must say!

mkkby's picture

Germany is lined up to pay everyone else's bills.  When their society crashes we'll see another dictator rise to power.  Then they'll raise a military to enact revenge.  Them's your consequences.  History repeats.

IAmNotMark's picture

Sorry Tyler...once I've read the first four words, all I can think about is oral sex.  The rest of the article just didn't fit.

Oh, wait....cunning linguists...  never mind...

Alex Kintner's picture

It was a typo. Should read "Cunning Lickquist".

gojam's picture

11) Democracy = Ignoring the people and moving greater and greater power away from them

Usage - Thank God there are enough deluded people in the world who think that living in a Democracy gives them a say in how their country is run.

GeneMarchbanks's picture

Democracy and "The People" is a myth. You can call it a mobocracy, I suggest The Revolt of the Masses by Ortega Y Gassett.

johnQpublic's picture


a series of votes held by the top tenth of one percent, verifying that right to rule and or steal in a controlled and beneficial manner to that same top tenth of one percent


see also:fascism,oligarchy,goldman sachs

johnQpublic's picture

firewall: gasoline (at 9 bucks a gallon) soaked paper,fiat currency, or bonds

SheepDog-One's picture

Firebomb: Wine bottle filled with gasoline, old sock or fiat paper currency stuffed in neck for fuze.

mkkby's picture

Firewall: the outside brick edifice of a bank branch or main office.  There, fixed it for ya.

RemiG2010's picture

"The People" or "The people"? Now, explain us the difference taking under consideration Constitution.

SheepDog-One's picture

Democracy: Your choice of either 2 pre-selected elite bankster hand picked dictators.

Nascent_Variable's picture

12) Fiat Currency:  The means by which the central banking cartel does to countries what Silvio Burlusconi does to 16 year old prostitutes behind closed doors.

HedgeAccordingly's picture

its all lies.. and we know the answer .. it took a while for NFLX to pan out.. the euro crisis will.. 

speaking of nflx.. down 11 percent today.. 'shhhh'

I am a Man I am Forty's picture

I bet whitney tilson is so pissed at himself.  I would be.  I'd feel like a weak little girl with little to no conviction.

FMR Bankster's picture

If he would have scaled it right he'd still be in the trade.

SheepDog-One's picture

Another golden oldie RoboTrader favorite stock to brag about after every close goes up in smoke.

Ghordius's picture

I like the "Everything is under control" part - soothing...


buzzsaw99's picture

CDO = criminal demon organization.

nah's picture


spanish inquisition's picture

First off alll you hot and bothered dislexic ladies, calm down and read slowly...cunning linguists

Next #3,,, He is advising creating a firewall by throwing paper money at it?

Oh regional Indian's picture

Hah. yep. It sure sounds like he wants them to make a moving firewall, with putty.


wang's picture
wang (not verified) Sep 29, 2011 10:20 AM



Kali's picture

And while everyone is focused on Europe, the house approves another stop gap funding bill that will only last til Nov.18 in US.  Almost two years and this idiot Congress STILL has not come up with a budget.  Will OB's term be the first where no budget was ever passed?

I have a new barometer of the economy - the Rest Stop Index.  Maybe that's where the drop in unemployment came from.  Now instead of one pathetic person at the rest stop claiming no food, gas, $$, there are multiple panhandlers.  And they look like they have moved in there too. 

THE DORK OF CORK's picture

Funny stuff - poor Europe has been royally fucked by Hayeks very strange denationalisation of money beliefs - civil servents are payed to do nothing now as they can not acheive anthing - its worse then a waste - its a scam. 

The old European civil service was expensive but they acheived much - now we have a cheap civil service and expensive bank advisors and they achieve nothing.

Can we please go back to the stagflation of the 70s - at least it was better fun then this devastating euro blandness.

Catullus's picture

Funny stuff. You associate the euro with Hayek's denationalization of money.

THE DORK OF CORK's picture

Yes - it was his baby - he was a monetory technocrat - he was not big into the freedom thingy or politics.

THE DORK OF CORK's picture

Read the denationalisation of money and get back to me - he wanted to create a system of money divorced or at least partially seperate from the state  - thats the euro baby.

Politics has no function when you have no money power - however that does not mean the power disappears - it flows.

Because both Friedman & Hayek seeked to reduce the State Money supply , private credit filled the vaccum - that is why the Euro area has a higher leverage them the US , the ECB are using Gold as a weapon of debt peonage , in the euro system the Gold price should be at least the M1 - this artifical high value of currency forces goverments to sell assets on the cheap.

The lack of understanding of power dynamics if it really is a lack of understanding among at least some of the Austrian school is childish in the extreme.




NotApplicable's picture

While I most certainly will read the entire book, the preface provides all the refutation I need. (emphasis mine)

It has long been a common belief among economists since the classical thinkers of the 18th century that one of the most important functions of government was to create a monetary mechanism and to issue money. The debates among economists have been on how far governments have performed this function efficiently and on the means of increasing or decreasing the power of government over the supply of money. But the general assumption has been that government had to control monetary policy and that each country had to have its own structure of monetary units. This assumption is now questioned by Professor F. A. Hayek. He goes much more fully into the 'somewhat startling' departure from the classical assumption which he touched on in Choice in Currency, Occasional Paper No. 48, published in February 1976. Even this short expansion of the theme indicates insights into the nature of money and its control for a wide range of readers: they should stimulate the student and suggest precepts for politicians. In effect, Professor Hayek is arguing that money is no different from other commodities and that it would be better supplied by competition between private issuers than by a monopoly of government.

This in no way describes the Euro. To insist that it does is to be disingenuous. Like I said below, denationalized is not equal to internationalized. The Euro is a creature of government, not of the free market.

THE DORK OF CORK's picture

Again extreme Austrians have no real concept of power and how it flows - when goverment issuance became junior to "competition" the power shifted.

Anyway how can you have competition in the provision of credit - thats crazy - credit is the  production of private debt - banks do not need deposits to create credit but they create unsustainable deposits when they lend.

When the sov country model was changed by the ECBs & Hayeks competition for money -  for example when Bank of Scotland moved into the Irish marketplace the old Irish sov banks had to produce more credit to "compete".

The entire monetarists school ignores for the most part the role of credit and concentrates on reducing the money supply - when this happened it the 80s wages were cut but banks created credit to maintain demand and profits but with negative real wealth generation.

Anyway theres nothing wrong with central planning when its done right , just as theres nothing wrong with providing a private loan if its the right investment.

Even in weak states such as Spain the best investments have been centrally planned while private credit investments have been a disaster - in states such as Ireland with no net fiscal debt during the good years the malinvestment has been off all known scales.

Meanwhile at least Spain built such things as the Madrid to Barcelona high speed train line which has wiped short haul airline routes out - without intense central planning that would never happen.