The Vernacular of a Dismal Economy

I’m becoming all too familiar with the vernacular of today’s amazingly dire economic realities, as written in the pages of the WSJ. Many businesses seem to be ‘stung’ by the tough retail climate, and ‘struggling to cope’ or deciding to ‘unwind or unravel’ the deals they made in the ‘good old days.’

One report about Best Buy’s dismal fourth-quarter forecast said that ‘even stronger retailers are on their knees in this economy.’ Brad Anderson, Best Buy’s CEO said that ‘rapid, seismic changes in consumer behavior have created the most difficult climate we’ve ever seen.’ That’s the second time I have heard that term ‘seismic.’

Turning the page, I read another bell weather bad new story. This was about Maersk, the huge Danish shipping company, and the world’s biggest container shipper and owner. There is an index that tracks the rates companies charge to ship dry containers between more than 40 routes worldwide, called the Baltic Dry Index. This year it’s fallen more than 90% since May.

But Maersk has other options, those too are in peril. They own an oil services firm, and you’d think that would be good. But oil prices, from their high of $142 a barrel, are now below $60. So the gains they might have seen in shipping from the lower cost of fuel is offset by the losses they’re taking in the oil business.