Lucky number 8?

There was a lot of talk during the Olympics about how the Chinese consider the number 8 to be lucky as the word for “8″ sounds very similar to wealth. Well following on from my post on Tuesday about financial media language I couldn’t go home without a quick word on today’s events on the stock market. Shares have surged today with the FTSE-100 closing 8.8% up, it’s single biggest gain in a day and for once, unlike my earlier comments, any hyperbole will get no argument from me. In fact surged seems a little conservative, rocketed wouldn’t be overdoing it.

Will this “double 8″ change prove to be lucky? We can only wait and see, but I suspect we may not find out the answer to that question for quite a while yet. In the meantime we may all need to keep a thesaurus close at hand :)

A grade 3 back and sides and a trim on top

That’s what I ask for when I go to get my haircut – next one is due on Friday as it happens. Lee, who cuts my hair, understands what I mean by a “trim”. I don’t walk out looking like I’ve just been scalped – I have little enough hair as it is :)

With all the excitement yesterday over Lehman Brothers, the announcement that China was reducing interest rates got a little lost in the mix. The announcement was significant though as it represents China’s first cut in interest rates in 6 years. The cut was 0.27% from 7.47% to 7.20%; however two pieces of media coverage described this change in very different ways. The BBC described the change as a “trim“; however The Times view was that China had “slashed“ rates. Now I don’t know about you, but if my bank told me that my mortgage interest payment had fallen by 3.6% (0.27%/7.47%) I wouldn’t really consider it had been slashed.

The serious point here is that in my experience the language that is used in reporting economic and financial matters can sometimes suffer from a lack of consistency. Share prices “plummet“ when the fall is a little over 1%, house prices “crash“ when they fall 2%, but oil prices only “fall“ when they reduce by 5%.

The lesson this has taught me though is if I ever need to get a haircut anywhere else I need to check first if the person about to cut my hair ever reads The Times!