Posted by Cognito on Thu, Aug 18 2011

All Posts by Cognito

Of Dips, Dives, Plummets and Plunges

Dow Futures PlungeI'd like to know if there are editorial guidelines governing the verbs used to describe the downward movement of the stock market. Today's 3.78% drop in the value of the Dow is not insignificant but if you had $100 and learned that $3.78 was missing, would you really tell your friends "my $100 plunged today to 96 dollars and 12 cents"? My nearest ATM charges me $3 for every transaction. The machine does not ask me: "will you accept this precipitous decline in your finances?"

In addition to the charge of hyperbole, I think the use of these words is in fact grammatically incorrect. The dictionary definitions of dive, plunge and plummet all imply not just falling but falling in a vertical direction at great speed (Plummet /ˈpləmit/: to fall or drop straight down at high speed). Today's market drop was actually more like a yo-yo than a pratfall, bouncing back and forward above 11,000 6 times before landing just a little under at 10,992.

What we need is a standardized set of terminology which is universally accepted and commonly understood. Below is my suggestion for how such guidelines might look:

  • Dow drops up to 200 points: A Dip
  • Dow drops up to 400 points: A Drop
  • Dow drops up to 600 points in less the half a trading session: A Dive
  • Dow drops up to 800 points in less the half a trading sesssion: A Plunge
  • Dow drops up to 1000 points in a single session: A Plummet
  • Dow drops over 1500 points in a single session: A Crash
  • Dow drops over 2000 points in a single session: A Faceplant
  • Dow drops over 2500 points: A 29er
  • Dow drops over 3000 points: An A-Bomb
  • Over 4000 points: A Cluster-fiesta
  • Over 5000 points: A Vengeful God

If enforced, this system would not only be easier for people to understand but also more entertaining, and thus more palatable, as the financial situation worsened. Who wouldn't feel slightly better if CNBC were to report: "The Dow suffered a Vengeful God on Wall Street today before rallying slightly to end the session on a disappointing Faceplant."??

Finance, Financial Communications, Financial Crisis, Newspaper Industry,
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