Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Getting stuffed

When Guambat first became a Yank in Oz about 20 years ago, he was surprised to learn that his grasp of the English language had so much slippage in it. Well, his American English, that is, just wasn't up to snuff in Aussie terms.

For instances: Back on Guam, Mrs. Guambat had paid almost all accounts by check/cheque. When she went to buy groceries, she'd first stop in at the business counter in the front of the store and get her check/cheque approved. The common parlance: "can I get my check OK'd?"

So off she goes on her first grocery buy Down Under. There was no obvious place to get check/cheque approvals in the grocery story, so, seeing something a fair facsimile, she goes up to the counter and asks, "is this where I get my check/cheque OK'd?". Of course, the very idea was a bit foreign since most Aussies then used cash and not cheques. Cheques tended to be used, if at all, for bigger purchases. So they had no check/cheque approval station. And the lady just stared at her blankly.

So she tried again: "Is this where I get my check/cheque OK'd?"

And the lady said, "Is this where you get your chocolate cake??"

Second instance. When lost, it is not uncommon for a Yank to ask someone, "can you tell me the best route" to such and such? Route pronounced in the American "root" way, not in the baseball umpire way of "you-rout". That inevitably leads to peals of laughter at a Yank's expense, because "root" is the vernacular for sexual intercourse, shall we say. And blokes just love to talk about good root.

Third instance. Americans like to eat beyond capacity and then kick back from the table and satisfactorily say, "Boy, I'm stuffed!" It's also a compliment to the chef (usually Mom/Mum or other lady of the house).

So, Guambat tried that Down There: "Boy, I'm stuffed!" And all and sundry looked shocked and amused/amazed. Seems "stuffed", like many other words, is the vernacular for sexual intercourse, shall we say. Blokes just love to talk about getting stuffed, or to advise you to "get stuffed".

All of which puts us on a train of thought that derailed Guambat's reading of a Floyd Norris post in the NYT. But before we get to that, one more item that helps piece this linguistic puzzle together.

Guambat has an old friend who long ago made this observation: "There are two sorts of people: fu@kers and fu@kees." Guambat can't recall the context, but the message has stuck with him over the years.

OK, so now on to Floyd. He writes about being at a talk given by David Rubenstein of the Carlyle Group. In the black humor/humour of those in the knows, Rubenstein scoffed at the banks in their toadiness to the likes of Carlyle.

As Floyd Norris relates the tale,
he said that there were a thousand smaller institutions that needed to raise capital, and that some big ones kept finding out they needed to raise more.

Carlyle has done its part to create those holes. Mr. Rubenstein delivered a hilarious recollection of the credit markets at the top of the market, in which Citigroup and J.P. Morgan competed to lend, offering low interest rates, no covenants (covenant-light in the jargon) and toggle-PIK, meaning the company could pay in kind, with more securities, if it did not have the cash.

As he told it, with a hypothetical billion dollar acquisition, Carlyle funds put up $350 million and borrowed $650 million.

When the music stopped in the credit market last year, the bank was unable to sell such loans in the securitization market — to investors Mr. Rubenstein called the “stuffees.”

Then a new dance began. The loan was no longer worth $650 million — even if nothing had happened to the underlying company that borrowed the money — because such terms were so unattractive. So the bank might write the loan down to $500 million, and see if anyone would buy it for that price. Then Carlyle could start to negotiate to buy the loan, and maybe get it for $450 million.

And where would it get that money? Much of it would be lent by banks, albeit at harsher terms than the original loan.

Stuffees. Good one. Gotta remember that.



Blogger Jack said...

I was amused once many years ago by another example of two nations divided by a common language when we were cruising in the Barrier Reef with our friends the Girdis family. NIck asked the
cook/deckhand to be sure Marina was up early for out arrival at Hayman Island. "Not to worry," says the cook. "Ah'll knock her up her early in he Ayem." Don't know if that terminology is still used.

The Puget Sounder

1 May 2008 at 9:20:00 am GMT+10  

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