The Danger of Financial Jargon

John Lanchester:

The world is full of priesthoods. On the one hand, there are the calculations that the pros make in private; on the other, elaborate ritual and language, designed to bamboozle and mystify and intimidate. To the outsider, the realm of finance looks a lot like the old Nile game. In The Economist, not long ago, I read about a German bank that had some observers worried. The journalist thought that the bank would be O.K., and that “holdings of peripheral euro-zone government bonds can be gently unwound by letting them run off.” What might that mean? There’s something kooky about the way the metaphor mixes unwinding and holding and running off, like the plot of a screwball comedy.