The last few weeks have been truly terrible ones for the financial markets. But that’s just another way of saying they have been excellent weeks for the British blog Brokers With Hands On Their Faces, and its American cousin Sad Guys On Trading Floors, both of which exist to chronicle the news media’s chronic overuse of stock pictures and video footage of stressed-looking men in blue shirts or jackets, standing in front of impossibly complex charts on plasma monitors, their hands on their foreheads, over their mouths, or under their chins, looking stricken or defeated or simply numb. Very occasionally it’s not a man, and slightly less occasionally the shirt isn’t blue. But you undoubtedly recognise the cliche: Sad-Looking Hands-On-Face Guy has become the icon of our era of gnawing financial anxiety, the blue-shirt-wearing omen of our economic doom.
The overuse of the Sad Broker image is doubtless partly down to the unimaginativeness of journalists. But it also illustrates how hard it is to illustrate the impact of awful macroeconomic news in any other way. Of course, the eventual effects of such news – a lost job, a vanishing pension, cutbacks to social services – are intensely personal, and frequently traumatising. But for most people, most of the time, seeing or hearing any given headline about “economies in crisis” or “markets in turmoil” prompts a nebulous, hard-to-categorise kind of emotional reaction, somewhere between worry and bafflement, with a dash of frustration thrown in. Even if you’re sufficiently financially savvy to understand what’s going on (and sources close to the author of this article confirm that he is not) it’s essentially impossible to gauge how panicked you should be. Reporters describe economic ructions almost exclusively using the language of human emotions: markets exude “panic”, behave “anxiously”, and “lose confidence” in politicians, while investors – which commonly means big institutions, not individuals – are “gripped by fear”. But for actual humans, knowing how to react is decidedly less clear.
Read the whole story: The Guardian