Quotes Uncovered: Wit and Wisdom from Economics and Finance

Continuing with my requests for famous quotations and sayings that might make it into the next edition of The Yale Book of Quotations, I’d like now to ask for memorable recent (or not-so-recent) words of wit or wisdom from the realms of economics and finance. These could be theoretical insights, sound-bites from the economic crisis of the past few years, or proverbial maxims.

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  1. BLP says:

    “If you have a bazooka in your pocket and people know it, you probably won’t have to use it,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson said at a July 15 Senate Banking Committee hearing.

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  2. BLP says:

    “After all, you only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.” – Warren Buffet

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  3. BLP says:

    “The worst thing is uncertainty. Just give us a set of rules and we’ll figure out how to work around them… I mean work with them.”
    – A senior US banker, discussing Basel III, corrects himself just a moment too late.

    from Euromoney

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  4. marketing idiot says:

    “The future belongs to people who see possibilities before they become obvious.”

    Ted Levitt

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  5. Robbie Laney says:

    “This much is true: you have been lied to, robbed, and used by your own government-the people you elected into office and the people you should be able to trust. The government is expanding, taxes are increasing, inflation is ballooning, and our basic freedoms are disappearing. Enough is enough. It is time for a revolution.” – Ron Paul, The Revolution

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  6. Ben says:

    Read my lips, no new taxes (Bush I)

    irrational exuberance (G-span)

    Arguing w/ you is like arguing with my dining room table (Barney Frank)

    Don’t let a crisis go to waste (Rahm Emanuel)

    They know nothing (Jim Cramer)

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  7. frankenduf says:

    “the fundamentals of our economy are strong”- John McCain- senior moment, or toe the propaganda line regardless of the maelstrom?

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  8. Alan Thiesen says:

    Nobel-Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman invented the wonderful phrase “a Wile E. Coyote moment”. Here is an example, from “Will there be a dollar crisis?” (Economic Policy July 2007, printed in Great Britain (c) CEPR, CES, MSH 2007)

    “If markets are failing to take the required future fall of the dollar into account, they will eventually have a ‘Wile E. Coyote’ moment, when they look down and realize that nothing is supporting the currency. At that point the dollar will plunge.”

    The phrase “Wile E. Coyote moment” is footnoted. The footnote reads:

    “For those not familiar with the classics: there were often scenes in Road Runner cartoons in which the ever-frustrated Wile E. Coyote would run off a cliff, take several steps on thin air, then look down – and only after realizing that there was nothing under him, would he plunge.”

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