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It’s so bad it’s good

A desire to use clever words to avoid the horrible truth of a bad situation is natural. And as they struggle to explain the environment they are working in, investment bankers are keen to excel at the linguistic skill of euphemisms.

Several key, straightforward phrases are to hand: the words "in these difficult market conditions" are to be found in every research document, speech and conversation.

But more elaborate nuggets of downturn-speak are also available to the more adventurous industry professional. Recent examples include describing one bank's department as making a "negative profit". One senior fixed-income figure at a large US bank also referred to slumping market conditions as a "reduced opportunity environment". In an internal memo dated November 18, Bank of America warned staff to brace themselves for a "wave of position eliminations". No doubt it will wish eliminated staff luck in what another executive calls "transitioning their careers".

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