Henry Blodget of Business Insider wrote this timeless article about empty phrases that make you sound smart on CNBC. I’m pretty sure econ majors could turn this into a drinking game. If you had to drink every time a talking head on CNBC unloaded one of these phrases, you would be plastered before lunch.
- The easy money has been made.
- I’m cautiously optimistic.
- It’s a stockpicker’s market.
- It’s not a stock market. It’s a market of stocks.
- We’re constructive on the market.
- Stocks are down on profit-taking.
- Stocks are up on bargain hunting.
- More buyers than sellers.
- There’s a lot of cash on the sidelines. (Alternatively: dry powder.)
- We’re in a bottoming process. (Alternatively: forming a base, bumping along the bottom.)
- Buy on weakness.
- Sell on strength.
- Take a wait-and-see approach.
- It’s a show-me stock.
To these, I would add a few more throw-away phrases like:
- Undervalued. (Alternatively: offers good value here.)
- Fully valued.
- Overpriced. (Alternatively: extended.)
The common feature of all of these phrases, as Mr. Blodget aptly points out, is that they make you sound smart but they really don’t mean anything. You can use them in a wide variety of situations because they can mean whatever you want them to mean. The exact same stock can be undervalued, fully valued, or overpriced depending on your set of assumptions—and importantly, whether you happen to own it or not!
Note: Part of the problem, unacknowledged in the article, is that many of the questions asked by interviewers are ridiculous and deserve one of these classic responses. Personally, I think it would be great fun to see how many of these phrases I could jam into one interview.