Let's Call It a Flump

INSERT DESCRIPTIONThe British candy Flumps.

The economics meme of the day appears to be naming the current downturn. A while back, our friends at Economix solicited reader suggestions, of which my favorite was “The Great Deception.” At Dubner’s urging, Freako readers chimed in with more alternatives. The Times‘s William Safire has also addressed this linguistic puzzle, offering various options, including the Safirrific “economic detumenscence.” And the emerging favorite, the “Great Recession,” was struck down in a neat piece of research by Catherine Rampell, whose careful combing of the archives revealed that “Every recession of the last several decades has, at some point or another, received this special designation.”

Always last to any such fad, I polled my economist friends on Facebook, and that formed the basis for a little piece I did for NPR’s Marketplace last week. (Text here; listen to it here.) The winning suggestion?

The best idea comes from Doireann Fitzgerald, an Irish economist at Stanford. She suggests we call it a “Clump,” short for credit slump, or a “Flump,” which denotes a financial slump. As she said, “Flump has a pleasing whiff of incompetence about it.”

Oh, and for a whiff of nostalgia: remember back when we were debating whether to even call it a recession?


I've been calling it the Econopocalypse, and everybody seems to know what I'm talking about.

C. Larity

How about The Great Grandkid Burdening? We could just call it The Great Grandkid for short, because that's more of a quaint name, and it would also reference the people who will be paying for it all.

Tom Tobin

Once again, Freakonomics is maligning English culture, just like with the pasties.
Flumps are tiny furry creatures that play in a brass band:


A Flump? Like these?
(I'm not sure whether the HTML will work, but I guess I'm about to find out...)

the Gooch

Why not "Rational Anuberance?"

Other than the fact no such word exists...

Art Carden

Interesting. "Flump" is the term we use to describe what our 8-month-old does when he flops and slumps at the same time.

Renatus Cartesius

What do Lewis Carrol's "Through the Looking Glass" and the current financial situation have in common?

Let me explain:

The word "flump" is a classic example of a portmanteau, which I just learned about at Anu Garg's A.Word.A.Day (I suggest all of you check it out and subscribe).

Portmanteau by definition means: "1) a word coined by blending two or more words; and 2) a case opening in two parts, used for carrying clothes while traveling."

Apparently, as Garg points out, Carrol used the term to explain a combined word in his book, "Through the Looking Glass." During a discussion about a certain poem, Humpty Dumpty says to Alice: "Well, 'slithy' means 'lithe and slimy'. 'Lithe' is the same as 'active'. You see it's like a portmanteau -- there are two meanings packed up into one word."

And that brings me to my point: "clump" or "flump" are the blending of two words "credit and slump" and "financial and slump" to create a set of new words! And I'm sure that both would pass Humpty Dumpty muster!

Economics and fair tales? Who wudda thunk?


John Neff



I've been thinking about 'The great wind down', 'the great work out' or 'the cramdown' each reflecting a different aspect of the current period or, more menacingly 'the clawback', great or not.

C. Larity

The Great Invoice (since we're now paying the bill for all the fun of the real estate/credit bubble).


We were in Spain last month, and everyone we talked to knew it as "The Crisis".

My favorite citation was outside a Madrid bar, which said (in Spanish):

Welcome - Monday night drink special.
No talking about the Crisis!


How about "pass the bubble"

myron w

Don't the Irish have a wonderful way with words.

How about we just call it what it is:

"The Long Con Undone"

After all, the mess we are in now is the result of deregulation snake oil salemen pulling the wool over the public's eyes.

Or perhaps, "Frog Soup". You know, if you put a frog in hot water, it will jump out. But if you put it in cold water and heat it up slowly, it will just sit there and cook - kind of like the public gradually built up it's addiction to credit.


This may not be the exact correct forum by which to put forth this observation, but why don't those from the right wing perspective ever make mention of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the Iraq war, and of the expectent cost of all this being hoisted on our Grandkids? Just wondering, It's like it never happened.

"The Bush Economy."


I was going to say I had coined the phrase 'Hegemonic Downturn', but after googling it, someone seems to have got there before me.


Well, let's look at other examples.

The "Great War", aka "The War to End All Wars" was not known as WW1 until WW2 came along.

So I guess GD2 will be the name of this downturn.


Decashination or Decash for short.

My 401K could really use some perking up.