Your Guide to Meltdown Terminology

“Flight to Liquidity”

Translation: “Mutual funds??? Are you kidding? My money is under my mattress.”

“Mark to Market”

Valuing something on your balance sheet at what it’s really worth. Accountants everywhere cringe at the alternative, which includes them wearing funny clown costumes.

“Credit Crunch”

Translation: “Your loan was declined. Don’t take it personally. Everyone’s loan is declined.”

“$700 billion”

Translation: “$850 billion.” Don’t forget to add in the wooden arrows.


1. Troubled Asset Relief Program.
2. An economic bandaid that — in relative scale — is wayyyyy bigger than a yard tarp.


See “crisis.”


Comes in three flavors: Mild, Severe…and whatever this is right now.


1. A clinically gloomy feeling about the economy and life in general.
2. Don’t use this word. It’s taboo. It freaks people out. Besides, it’s just crazy talk… Right?

“Too Big to Fail”

Translation: “Don’t worry boys! Joe Taxpayer’s got your back. There’s trillions more where that came from.”

“Main Street”

The news media’s annoyingly euphemistic catchphrase for people like “you,” “me” and the other 320 million people who have to pay for this mess. (Chosen for its clever pairing with “Wall Street” in sound bites, see below.)

“Wall Street”

Charlie Sheen stars in this 1987 film about stratospheric (if not stereotypical) corporate greed. A generation later, it is recognized as the most effective recruitment video ever made.


See “meltdown.”


Another word for “trust.” Either way, it’s gone. See ya. Buh-bye…

“Dow Down 200”

1. Not too shabby! Anything better than -500 is a good day.
2. “Down a little” is the new “up.”
3. It must be time to buy, right? Okay, you first…


See “recession.”


1. Wall Street codeword for “risk” (which in itself is a codeword for “downturn.”)
2. “Buckle your seatbelts folks!”

“This isn’t going to be pretty.”

Translation: It’s ugly.

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