Final Word from Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A casual observer of global affairs has plenty of reason to think that the crisis is petering out and that next year will show signs of recovery. We can read in the newspapers that credit markets in many countries are thawing, that green shoots of growth are starting to appear, and that investors are looking again at riskier asset classes. The trend, at least on one level, is clearly in this direction. On another level, though, a second trend is taking shape. We're forgetting the lessons that the crisis has taught us. We tend to accept that things will never be the same again, but we're increasingly acting as if they'll soon return to the way they were before, even though the necessary steps haven't been taken to achieve it. A healthier way to read the optimistic news might be to treat it like the enthusiastic spiel of a traveling medicine man. His snake oil might be a miracle cure, but chances are it isn't.[Czech Republic crisis]

Glossary of difficult words

traveling medicine show - in the Great Depression in the U.S., a medicine man would travel around selling miracle cures and entertaining people;

to peter out - to decrease or fade gradually before coming to an end;

green shoots - signs of growth (young branches or suckers of a plant);

spiel - a long or fast speech or story, typically intended as a means of persuasion but regarded with skepticism by those who hear it;

snake oil - a substance with no real medicinal value sold as a remedy for all diseases.


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FS Final Word