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curry
02-02-2009, 02:05 PM
Από το BBC, το βάζω αρχικά εδώ και μετά μετακινήστε το όπου θέλετε.

It seems timely to resurrect this Americanism from the 1930s - one of many evocative words the United States has contributed to the English language, says Harold Evans.

Americans are pretty good at adding words to the English language. We owe them pin-up girls, highbrows, killjoys, stooges, hobos, drop-outs, shills, bobby-soxers, hijackers, do-gooders and hitchhikers who thumb a ride.
The Americanisms are so much more concise and vivid. Instead of saying "sorry we're late but drivers ahead of us slowed us down when they craned their necks to look at a crash" you can say "we were held up by rubberneckers".

Words pop in and out of our language as social conditions change. The American gangster, which is still with us, has been around as a noun and a reality since 1896 according to my Shorter Oxford, but it seems to have dropped another Americanism from the 1930s and I think now is the time to revive it.

The word is bankster, derived by a marriage of banker and gangster.
It was coined, as far as I can deduce, by an American immigrant, a fiery Sicilian-born lawyer by the name of Ferdinand Pecora. He was the chief counsel to the US Senate Committee on Banking set up in the early 30s to probe the origins of the Crash of 1929.

He exposed quite a lot of the Wall Street practices that Harvard's Professor William Z Ripley had condemned in 1928. The believable Ripley called them - get ready for these Americanisms - "prestidigitation, double-shuffling, honey-fugling, hornswoggling and skullduggery".

The professor had vainly tried to warn President Calvin Coolidge that Wall Street was full of gas and was bound to blow up. To great discomfort all round, Pecora identified Coolidge himself, by then out of office, as one of those who'd been in on the honey-fugling.

The great banking house of JP Morgan had the president on a "preferred list" by which the bank's influential friends were given a chance to buy stock at half price. Shall we say, they made out like bandits?

Today the term bankster perfectly fits Bernard Madoff, whose crooked Ponzi scheme lost $50 billion of what the trade calls OPM - other people's money - invested with him.

Costly rug

But the revelations come thick and fast. People are now struggling for words to describe the latest example of Wall St's money madness. The fabled investment bank Merrill Lynch, run by one John Thain, had so many big zeroes on its balance sheet it would have been liquidated in December but for a merger with the Bank of America.

That was actually a shotgun marriage - in the US vernacular - since the Bank of America was forced to take billions of government money when it learned later that Merrill Lynch was down another $15bn.

Then what? In the few days in December while he was still in charge, Mr Thain reportedly spent nearly $4bn on staff bonuses. That's peanuts on Wall St. In 2007 Mr Thain himself received $83m.

But a week ago, CNBC's Charles Gasparino, in a detailed scoop on the Daily Beast website revealed that during the time Mr Thain was busy cost-cutting, he spent $1.1m doing up his office - $86,000 for a rug, $35,000 for something called a commode on legs.

Readers bayed for blood, posting comments such as: "Oh how I wish this was Revolutionary France and we peasants could storm the offices…"

The anger about the greed that got us into our mess is, in my view, wholly justified. And now we hear that 10 of the big banks that got $148bn from Uncle Sam so they could make loans to get things humming again have actually reduced their loan totals by $46bn.

Mr Thain now is history, having resigned, but the great Bank of America, the biggest in the US and maybe the world is now on the list of banks that may have to be nationalised - a word no red-blooded American ever thought would be uttered in the land of enterprise.

Have money, will lend

The piquancy of all this is that if the term banker is ever to be restored to its former prestige, the public and Wall St might reflect on one highly relevant example of a banker who was not a bankster. (...)

Η συνέχεια εδώ (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7861397.stm) γιατί παραείναι σεντόνι.

curry
02-02-2009, 02:07 PM
Προσθήκη: βλέπω ότι το σχολιάζει και ο Μιχαηλίδης στη σημερινή Ελευθεροτυπία, εδώ (http://www.enet.gr/online/online_fpage_text/id=84353164).

nickel
02-02-2009, 09:38 PM
Είχαμε παλιά τους αγιογδύτες, μετά έφτιαξαν τους «σοσιαληστές». Να φτιάξουμε τώρα τους τραπεζεβέγκηδες (http://www.komvos.edu.gr/dictonlineplsql/simple_search.display_full_lemma?the_lemma_id=32963&target_dict=1);