Goodbye HIPs, hello to Nama – our guide to the City's new lexicon

In a rocky 2010, the Square Mile needed a new vocabulary for a new world order. Here, man of letters Richard Northedge has the last word

As 2010 came in, we were still wondering what to call the decade. The Tennies? The Twenty-tens, the Teensies or the Tens? Bank of England governor Mervyn King solved our dilemma by naming it the "Sober" decade – his mnemonic for Saving, Orderly Budgets and Equitable Rebalancing.

Business pages are often criticised for their tendency to wander into jargon and, as King's strange acronym shows, 2010 has been an absolute beauty for the introduction of utterly impenetrable financial language.

In the spirit of proving that the City is, actually, a fairly simple place that dresses up its importance through its highfalutin' language, here is a guide to the business lexicon of the year.



A Treasury of jargon

In an age of austerity – swapping steak and champagne for bangers and Special Brew to you and me – government and business have become more entwined than ever. So, let's start with some of the phrases associated with our new political masters.

Middle England's Mondeo Man gave way to Motorway Man, the voters in marginal seats around our main road network who helped decide the election result, while Mumsnet (and the pregnant Sam Cam) appealed to the squeezed middle classes. They voted for what was now called a balanced, rather than hung, parliament, and were rewarded with a tough Chancellor in George Osborne who introduced a Red Team to ensure that government officials cut enough.

A Fiscal Responsibility Act and an Office for Budget Responsibility will ensure the structural deficit and massive interest repayments are reduced.



Merlin casts a linguistic spell

The Bank of England is considering a sequel to quantitative easing in the form of QE2. In February, the Bank ended the first phase of the £200bn experiment, which basically meant creating new money to buy government bonds and stabilise the economy.

Project Merlin was the big banks' attempt to agree a voluntary code on restraining bonuses. However, senior bankers were unable to reach a deal and the industry continues to be criticised for the £1m-plus bonuses paid to its dealmakers.

Celebrities and 232,000 Facebook friends demanded a Robin Hood tax on the financial sector, which this loose coalition believed would raise £20bn a year in the UK alone for good causes. Instead, a bank levy and a Financial Activities Tax will hit City fat cats. This didn't stop the establishment of a new high street bank, Metro, which also opens on Sundays.



Tweeting nonsense

The universal banks (combining retail and casino banking) are worried about toxic debt and impairments, especially on loans in Ireland, which now has Nama, its National Asset Management Agency. The failed Lehman Brothers used Repo 105 to take debt off its balance sheet, while Goldman Sachs was charged with misleading investors in the way it marketed Abacus, a fund of synthetic collateralised debt obligations.

Bankers swapped BlackBerrys for iPads, adding endless apps, and microblogging their tweets. Books appear on Kindle or tablet computers but publishers erected paywalls to charge for the news.

New business names include Everything Everywhere – the merger of T-Mobile and Orange – and International Airlines Group, the holding company for British Airways and Iberia. Airlines also had to learn to say Eyjafjallajokull as they were grounded by volcanic dust.



Krafty codes

BP – or British Petroleum, as Barrack Obama pointedly called it – introduced us to the blow-out preventer after Deepwater Horizon got it into deep water. ITV was rescued by Downton Abbey. Dubai's economy was rescued by an Abu Dhabi sheikh, and its new 2,683ft tower – the world's tallest skyscraper – was renamed Burj Khalifa after him.

Investors signed up to a stewardship code and were told to have annual elections for directors. A Cadbury law was demanded after Kraft bought the confectioner. The new Prudential Regulation Authority and Consumer Protection and Markets Authority are to take over from the Financial Services Authority, whose report on insider dealing talked, instead, about "abnormal pre-announcement price movements".



Neet ambushes

Ambush marketing at World Cup games gave publicity to a beer company that was not an official sponsor. Footballers sought super-injunctions to keep their lingerie models secret – and vuvuzelas drowned out the fans' reaction.

Many Neets – those Not in Education, Employment or Training – joined students opposing fee increases. "We're all in this together," David Cameron told kettled protesters. The Liberal Democrats' proposed graduate tax went the same way as their mansion tax.



A truly Grizzly year

The US economy still in turmoil, Obama was shellacked in the mid-term elections when Sarah Palin recruited the Mama Grizzlies to her team of hockey mums. While she hosted the Tea Party, Italy's Silvio Berlusconi was accused of hosting "bunga bunga" parties rather than arresting the unemployment problem.



Farewell old friends

If some new words entered the dictionaries during 2010, some prepared to exit. We'll have no future need for Home Improvement Packs, Child Trust Funds, the FSA, or Cheltenham & Gloucester.

Everyone had a journey in 2010: even former prime minister Tony Blair gave his book that title. It was a game-changer of a year.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Technical Software Consultant (Excel, VBA, SQL, JAVA, Oracle)

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...

SQL DBA/Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer SQL, C#, VBA, Data Warehousi...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering