May I have a word… about the mystifying parlance of the City | Jonathan Bouquet | From the Observer

The world of finance and business and, by extension, the City pages of newspapers, continues to be a bewildering place. Last week, there was mention of ghost broking and gross written premiums, while another report had the following gem: “Given that guidance was reiterated 10 weeks ago, operations have clearly taken a marked turn for the worse and the lack of new guidance indicates that management is currently unable to forecast its own business.” Reading between the lines, I suspect this means that the high-ups haven’t a bloody clue what they are doing and need a big kick up the backside.

Elsewhere, reporting on Blackstone, a $43bn investment giant, we had: “When companies’ earnings are up, they tend to be more inclined to hire. They tend to be more inclined to capex [capital investment].” Thank heavens for the explanation in square brackets, though I do feel that the above was a bit stating the bleeding obvious. And I’m giving Jonathan Gray, Blackstone’s chief operating officer, the benefit of the doubt that he is using capex as a noun and not a verb, but given the looseness of language use of executive types, I still harbour doubts. And I think we’ll leave opex for another day.

Also last week, on Radio 4, was a fascinating programme about undertaking, in which one funeral director, without breaking step, used the word “encoffining”. I knew exactly what he meant, but it seemed somehow impersonal, somewhat mechanical. In Japan, I discovered that an “encoffining” ritual (called a nōkan) is sometimes performed, in which professional nōkansha ritually dress and prepare the body and place it in the coffin. This seems altogether more in keeping, though I’m not suggesting that the British way of death is any less compassionate.

On an altogether lower plane, two more pearls from the world of property programmes – “dedicated dining area” and “a triple-aspect bedroom”. Yup, that’s a dining room and a bedroom with three windows in old money. Ah well, back to the City and a bit more ghost broking.

Jonathan Bouquet is an Observer columnist

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