What's in a name? Understanding the language of the credit crunch

Killian McCarthy*, Wilfred Dolfsma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This study makes a number of observations about the way in which the current crisis in particular, but economic crises more generally, are reported upon by the media. Considering terminology used to describe the financial crisis of 2007/2008 by employing a dataset of 956 articles from The Economist, we study what terms are used, why, and how they evolve. We consider how the frequency of negative emotional terms and the frequency of negative economic terms increase from the period of no-crisis to the period of the crisis. Increasing incidence lowers levels of consumer confidence. We predict that as the crisis evolves the nature of the terminology used to describe it will change, and that the present crisis will receive a special name, like the "Great Depression" of the 1930s. We explore a number of possibilities, and conclude that the preferred name will be the Credit Crunch.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)531-548
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Economic Issues
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Business and economic cycles
  • Content analysis
  • Depression
  • Recession


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