This absurd meme is catchy because it combines the inherent sexiness of something that can kill you with the allure of something that you want to have in your bank account, or even better, your garage.
You may find it interesting to know that two anagrams of “toxic assets” are “a cost exists” and “taxes is cost.” Perhaps this is the cryptographic meaning we should keep in mind as the US government (and I’m sure the Canadian government will follow closely behind, just like the loyal scotty dog it is), pours another trillion dollars (dozens of dollars north of the border) to help purchase these bad debts. Of course, another anagram of “toxic assets” is “sexist tacos”, so perhaps we shouldn’t read too much into it.
I’m not as offended by this neologism as I am by many other freaky phrases overused by the media, because frankly most of the terms being thrown around during this financial meltdown don’t make any sense to me. Here is a few phrases that I got out of the first half of this CBC story:
- ossified financial markets (I actually kind of like this one, it makes me think of an active trade in bones)
- risky and distressed but probably fundamentally undervalued assets (not only do things now have feelings, but they can be both probabilistic and fundamental at the same time)
- patient capital (this is where the kingdom of sick people is ruled from)
- non-performing loans (they refuse to juggle)
- asset-backed commercial paper (um…)
- legacy assets (uh …)
- legacy securities….
I believe the latter two are an attempt by the US Treasury Department to re-brand the term “toxic assets”, but I’m not really sure because I was overcome by crushing ennui and was unable to read any further.
Now, I’m not saying that toxic assets don’t exist. I can think of a number of toxic things (that is, substances that are harmful, poisonous, virulent, and capable of making well-loved parts of one’s body drop off) that could be considered as assets (anything of material value or use):
- enriched plutonium
- a barrel of chlorine
- Paris Hilton’s panties (worth about $2,000 on Ebay).
This one gets five gobsmacks out of ten.
Oh, and you’ll also be happy to know there is a related anagram: It’s so sex act!