「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


Bank holidays and bailouts

By Mike Dwane


I sit writing this on a bank holiday, one of nine such public holidays we have in Ireland every year.

Many of them coincide with religious holidays, such as Christmas Day, but most are bonus holidays that have their origins in the 1870s, when the government — then British — decided banks should close on specific days of the year. This meant businesses would shut too and overworked Victorian labourers would get some well-earned rest.

We eventually kicked out the British but kept their bank holidays. Five of them fall on Mondays — in April, May, June, August and October — meaning three-day weekends for all!

Sadly, the bank holiday is one of only a few things we have to be grateful for when it comes to the banks, especially in Ireland where people are still counting the cost of the near-collapse of our banking system in 2008.

There are many idioms around banking and finance in English. Many of them get across the idea of trust and security — which is why you put your money in the bank in the first place.

When you are "banking on" something, you are depending on it. "You can take that to the bank," you might be told when being assured of something.

Credit itself means trust and when you find something "incredible" it means you don't believe it — you don't credit it to be true. Credit in finance is the trust placed in you to pay back money that you've borrowed.

Banks borrow money from one another as well, of course, but all that ground to a halt with the "credit crunch" of 2007-2008, when the banks suddenly stopped trusting each other. Much of the banking vocabulary that has crept into English since the global financial crisis — or as the Chinese perhaps more accurately describe it, the Western financial crisis — centres around mistrust and fear.

The crisis started in the "sub-prime" mortgage market in the USA and lenders there recklessly extending "NINJA loans," which had nothing to do with Japan but meant people with No Income, No Jobs and no Assets were borrowing money they could not afford to repay.

Banks feared they may end up with "toxic assets" on their books through "contagion," a virus spreading through the highly interconnected global financial system.

Financial institutions were facing huge losses and these "zombie banks" were kept on artificial life support by governments. Many were considered "too big to fail" and what we all believed to be the rules of capitalism were suspended as billions in public funds were pumped into private companies in taxpayer-backed "bailouts."

The €64 billion (¥8.77 trillion) rescue of the Irish banks has cost every Irish citizen €9,000 (¥1.2 million) in wage cuts and tax hikes. It's enough to ruin your bank holiday.


英国やアイルランドでは、国民の祝日のことを bank holiday (銀行休業日)と呼ぶ。銀行と国民の生活がいかに密接に関わっているかは、金融業に関連したイディオムを見ても分かる。

The Japan Times ST: August 28, 2015

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版