Badgers recovering?


I was just listening to Deutschlandfunk, and there was a weird report in which a typically serious-sounding and besorgt German banky sort of person prophecied doom, now that the US Fed is promoting cheap money with promises of long-term low interest, “und wie hoch die Inflation dann steigt, das fragt keiner.”

And then, a breathless reporter telling us that the one question on everyone’s mind in Frankfurt is: “Ob der Dachs sich erholt.” And this while the British are killing badgers because they spread disease to cattle.

But there’s a serious question here: The metaphors that are used for describing market trends are bizarrely elaborate, compelling, and contradictory. On the one hand, a stock index is like a climber subject to gravity: It “slips” or “falls”, it “climbs” and “slips back” or “sinks”, it “claws back” its losses, or is subject to “corrections”, it “soars” unless it is “weighed down” by bad news, in which case it might “dip” or “plunge”. (I’m sure there are lots more colourful words that I’m not thinking of now. In German I’ve seen reference to a “Börsentalfahrt”. And at least the stock market is springy — after it crashes, it tends to “bounce”.) So, the gravity metaphor suggests that the natural tendency of markets is to go down, even”crash”.

On the other hand, the stock (or other) market is also a sick person, who may be “infected” from someone else (usually “the economy“, but it could be “caution” — well, I guess caution is the disease), but whose natural tendency is to “recover”.

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