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Beware the redback’s bite-back

The naming of new products and trends in finance is fraught with peril, as Euromoney detailed in this column last month when describing the spat in Hong Kong over whether to name its new renminbi-denominated bonds "tigers" or "dim sum" (see Renminbi-denominated bonds: Hong Kong licks its lips for dim sum pun fun, Euromoney November 2010). And so to Euromoney’s China Global Debt Capital Markets Congress in Beijing on November 16 and 17, where visitors to HSBC’s well-attended stall could pick up a research report on the internationalization of the Chinese currency entitled The rise of the redback. The name is an obvious nod to the nickname of the US dollar but – as a wag loitering by the stand mischievously pointed out – the Redback is also an extremely venomous spider native to Australia, known for its resemblance to the even more dangerous Black Widow, with its habit of lurking in outhouses and for the female’s rather inconsiderate taste for devouring the male after mating. It is doubtful, though not impossible, that HSBC meant to imply by the comparison something about the ravenous rate at which the renminbi is consuming market share from its rivals in global trade settlement. If, as is likely, the unfortunate connotations were not intended, perhaps future economists pondering a snappy title might be encouraged – like the Australian nervously entering his outhouse at night – to check thoroughly for dangers before committing.

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