Friday, December 12, 2008

Dismal Economist

The Economist gets itself into an awful mess with an extended metaphor based on the bastardised, nonsensical version of the phrase -

The gap between mouth and trouser
One worry is that China’s rulers will try to push the yuan down to help exporters. That would be a terrible idea, not least because the government has the resources to ease the pain in less dangerous ways: it is running a budget surplus and has little debt. Last month it announced a huge 4 trillion yuan (nearly $600 billion) fiscal-stimulus package. Some who have crunched the numbers argue that this was all mouth and no trousers—much of it made up by old budget commitments, double-counting and empty promises. It was thus mainly propaganda, to convince China’s own people and the outside world that the government was serious about stimulating demand at home. That may yet prove to be unfair: what matters is when infrastructure money is spent, not when it is announced. Yet there is little sign that the regime is ready to take radical steps in the two areas that would do most to persuade the rural majority to spend its money rather than hoard it: giving farmers better rights over their land; and providing a decent social safety-net, especially in health care.
Still, China does at least have trousers, with deep pockets.

Did none of the Economist's famously finicky subs not realise that the bastardised phrase, particularly in this tortured form, makes no sense whatsoever? It's particularly shaming as the paper's style guide is generally one of the best in the business.