Stock Market Crashes; So Does Figurative Language

From an unsystematic scan of multiple online articles about yesterday’s stock-market crash, I have retrieved the following figurative language used in connection with the story and with Wall Street trading in general:

* many experts first attributed the crash to a “fat-thumbed” or “fat-fingered” trader, and one expert on the Rachel Maddow Show opined that a trader had “fat-thumbed” the crash; that a crash might be caused by a single corpulent digit gives me all the confidence in the world in our financial system

* roller-coaster–not a good comparison, in my view, because is supposed to go up and down on a secure, engineered track and then come to rest–all predictably

* excessive volatility, spike in volatility; doesn’t “volatility” by definition suggest potential excess, which might include spiking?

* gyrations–Yeats would have liked this one; not sure how applicable it is to the stock market

* sell-off; this is different from selling, I gather; it does not seem to be paired with a “buy-on”

* fluctuation–ah, how very gentle

*knee-jerk reaction–well, when one’s knee jerks in reaction to being struck by a physician’s rubber hammer, one is thought to be reacting appropriately, but people seem to use “knee-jerk reaction” to suggest something abnormal or irrational

* one expert wrote that the “sliding” was “fueled” by . . . whatever: can sliding be fueled?

* one writer described what happened as a stock-market bungee-jump

* one writer opined that stocks were “buzz-sawed”

All of this language tempts me to recommend that we change Wall Street to Gall Street, to think that the market is “free” in the sense that is is free from reason [and note that once the crash happened, officials simply and arbitrarily canceled trades: exactly how “free-markety” is that?],  to hope (foolishly, I admit) that Congress passes financial reform that isn’t another joke to amuse financial lobbyists as they knock back a scotch,  and to hope that Congress passes  reform that will regulate the market in financial metaphors.  –Not censorship of language, mind you, just some regulation of metaphors.


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