TEXT GENRES IN ENGLISH
INTRODUCTION TO FINANCIAL ENGLISH - 2 Economic Factors Last week the Dow jumped by about 7% because of a rise in interest rates. This was a surprise. Why should interest rates affect the price of stocks? Because 1) if you get less money for your money, you should invest it in non-money, e.g. stocks and shares (thus more money will come into the stock market), 2) if people can get cheaper loans, they will have more money to spend, consumer demand will rise, and there will be more economic activity. Lesson: All factors are interconnected. Any economic item can become news for the stock market. Some economic items, however, are related to the overall performance of an economy. These are called “indicators”, and they are constantly referred to by the discourse of the stock market. NOTE: In English, “finance” and “financial” refer to the world of investment and banking (including the stock market). “Economics” and “economic” refer to the factors involved in entire systems of production and distribution, and are thus much wider in scope. Check this difference by looking at what the economist calls “financial” and “economic” indicators. NB: “economical” means “cheap”; the adjective corresponding to “economics” is “economic”. Look at the indicators (these are not indices, nor indexes!) given in the back pages of The Economist (you can find them at www.economist.com, select “Weekly Indicators” from the menu at left bottom): For the economic indicators, check that you know the following terms (please give their Spanish or Catalan equivalents): GDP (Gross Domestic Product): total value of goods and services produced within a country in a year (= Gross National Product minus investment incomes from other countries) Industrial production Retail sales volumes Unemployment rate (as % of labour force) Balance of payments Current account: That part of the balance of payments composed of the balance of trade and the invisible balance Capital account: That part of the balance of payments composed of movements of capital and international loans and grants Interest rates CPI: Consumer Price Index.
Linguistic features of the discourse on numbers No discourse-connecting adverbials like “Meanwhile”, “Referring to X”, “Concerning X we can say that...”. This kind of prose just gives the facts, without any excess fat. The verbs used to describe the movements of the numbers are quite varied: “edged up slightly”, “slumped”, “edged down”, “is creeping up”, “dropped”, “soared”, “climbed up”, and so on. These are metaphorical descriptions possibly drawing on a range of unrelated fields (carpentry, physiology, biology, hunting, flight, mountain-climbing?). Lexical notes to raise / to rise : We raise the price of our goods. The price thus rises. We have raised it; it has risen. increased by X % (not the/a X%) over the past year / over/in the past three months: refers to a process that has taken place constantly throughout the three months ending today (cf. “durante”). „last year‟ is not the same thing as „the past year‟: last year was 2001. The past year is the 12 months from April 2001 to April 2002 (which is where I am writing from). The numbers given are percentage comparisons between the present and the past (e.g. +5.2 means that the things has risen by 5.2% since the previous indicator). The exception here is the Unemployment Rate, which is a percentage comparison made in the present only, measuring the percentage of unemployed people as part of the labour force. If the unemployment rate in Spain is 12.3%, we cannot say it has “risen (or fallen) by 12.3%”. We can simply say that it has fallen slightly since this time last year, where it was 12.8%. Some countries and regions need an article: the United Kingdom, the United States, the Euro area. No room for things like „experimented/suffered/observed a growth‟: these are all Hispanisms. Practice tasks: Using the data on economic indicators given in The Economist (you may use the ones given on our webpage) 1. Give Catalan or Spanish equivalents for all the terms in the tables. 2. Make a list of the verbs used to describe the movements of the numbers. 3. Describe the movements of GDP, Industrial Sales Volume and Unemployment Rates for three countries, using the terms and structures found in the short text fragments in the same publication.
GDP (Gross Domestic Product): total value of goods and services produced within a country in a year. (= Gross National Product minus investment incomes from other countries) Industrial production Retail sales volumes Unemployment rate (as % of labour force) Balance of payments Current account: That part of the balance of payments composed of the balance of trade and the invisible balance Capital account: That part of the balance of payments composed of movements of capital and international loans and grants Interest rates CPI: Consumer Price Index.