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The Fed “Taper” - Never Let a Good Deed Go Unvarnished

The Fed has shown itself to be very innovative, with its various programs to try to grow the economy. But in inventing the taper I believe that they have surpassed the already high bar they set with QE3.

I think that their innovative usage of the term “taper” has expanded the creative possibilities of literature, marketing and communication, to name just a few. I want to promote their insight to the rest of us to show how it can be leveraged in other areas of human endeavor, to all of our benefits.

So here are a few suggestions for anyone who has a love of and deep appreciation for the creative use of language on how to use this sophisticated technique pioneered by economists, whom we normally would never credit with such high levels of imagination.

The Expurgated Fed Dictionary of Taperisms

  • Financial taper – another way of saying you did the opposite of what you said you would do, usually because circumstances changed in a way totally unforeseeable by a 2 year old

  • Management taper – a nice way to talk about managers whose performance is rapidly deteriorating

  • Leadership taper – euphemism for leaders who have outlasted their usefulness (c.f. term limits for whales)

  • Paper taper – another way to describe the failure of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980

  •  Cognitive taper – used by defense lawyers to defend their clients when they can’t remember anything they said or don’t want to remember, as in “I don’t recall [performing the undeniable act I am denying]….”

  • Fiscal taper – a way of appearing to save money when in fact you are spending it as in “we have saved $100 billion [compared with what we could have done if we were insanely profligate”]

  • Strategy taper – used by, inter alia, CEOs, politicians and military generals; c.f. RIM/Blackberry - we were totally wrong, now we gotta find a way to convince you that our next stab won’t be the abject failure that the first strategy was

  • Policy taper – a variant of the hugely-popular strategy taper - the new policy will work despite the fact that it's almost the same as the first one that didn’t

  • Heli-taper – Newspeak for “we can’t make a decision.” As in “hover”

  • Healthcare taper – a more forgiving characterization of the progressive breakdown of a plan (note: not just in healthcare, even though this technique was perfected there)

  • Rendition taper – this is the ultimate in proactive defense, as in “we deliberately decided to make the plan fail, ourselves.”

  • Vapor taper – in political usage, the ending of a filibuster; in science, baffling critics with so much data it’s impossible to understand (c.f. climate change); in common usage, the end of a meaningless monologue; e.g. “the CEO has finally finished talking!”

  • Caper taper – as in when Senators and Congressmen return to the Capitol to continue not working

  • Fashion taper – skinny jeans that show how skinny you aren’t

  • Military taper – defeat

You get the idea.

I think that the above could be used with benefit by White House spokespeople, civil servants, politicians, CEOs and other leaders to help refine their communications with their adoring publics.

I herewith respectfully nominate Ben Bernanke for a new award in literature (called the Literataper of course) where I believe his achievements to be even more impressive than those in economics and high finance. We can only hope that Janet Yellen can keep up the same blistering pace of literary progress in her forthcoming tenure.

QE4 anyone?


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