Econonspeak — Orwell’s 1984 Updated

Fantastic post by Michael S. Rozeff on the LRC Blog today:

Econonspeak: Toward the end of the twentieth and at the beginning of the twenty-first century, economists developed a language that distorted the reality of economics and replaced it with distortions and garbled allusions to economics and economic history. This became known as Econonspeak. It rapidly spread to court economists who found it useful in manipulating those who understood little economics. Eco-non-speak: a language using economics terms that is non-speak, that is, it provides no useful or, more usually, faulty economic concepts to the listener.

Fine examples of econonspeak are provided by what at that time was called macroeconomics (now regarded as little short of witchcraft.) Ben Bernanke and Timothy Geithner provide many instances of econonspeak.

It was Geithner who said “The President’s plan is meant to jumpstart our economy making a down payment on longterm economic growth.” This sentence shows the ability of econonspeak to confound the listener, while providing incoherent phrases that mimic real thought. We have here a mixing of the three metaphors of starting an engine, making a down payment on an investment, and improvement in economic income. There are in reality no connections among these three elements, which is what makes this a classic and beautiful example of econonspeak.

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