Final Word from Wednesday, May 6, 2009

When economists talk about countries living beyond their means, they usually have in mind such measurements as debt ratios and personal consumption expenditures. Let's throw out the eco-babble, though. To judge how financially overextended a country is, all you usually need to do is look at its waistlines. You might call it the Big Ass index. The bigger the posteriors, the bigger the risk of an economic meltdown. In a class of its own is the U.S., with an obesity rating of 30.6%. From there, this unscientific measurement suggests that Mexico, the U.K., Slovakia, Greece, Australia, New Zealand and Hungary should be facing hardships now or in the near future. The CR is no island of austerity but has only an average risk of a fat-induced economic crisis. China is one of those with the lowest obesity rating, but it's getting fatter fast. Maybe, just maybe, the Chinese will eat the rest of us out of this crisis.[Czech Republic United Kingdom United States of America]

Glossary of difficult words

eco-babble - (financial slang) economic chatter or talk;

waistline - an imaginary line around a person's body at the waist, esp. with respect to its size;

Big Ass index - a world play on the Big Mac index;

posterior - bottom, buttocks, rear end;

to be in a class of one's own - unequalled, esp. in excellence or performance;

austerity - sternness or severity of manner or attitude (in terms of such things as eating or spending habits);

to eat someone out of the crisis - to eat so much that the crisis ends.


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