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Word War II: Why Context Matters to the Markets

Fin - Breakout - US

As someone who used to actually make their living on the evening news, Don Henley's classic rip on the news business, Dirty Laundry, is one of my favorites -- not for the song, but for the lyrics.

We can do "The Innuendo"
We can dance and sing
When it's said and done we haven't told you a thing
We all know that Crap is King
Give us dirty laundry!

So today, in the spirit of Clean Laundry, the Breakout Brothers use our Dos Hombres platform and "call BS" on some currently trendy words and phrases that we've come across.

Macke wastes no time teeing up Alcoa (AA) CEO Klaus Kleinfeld's use of the term "mutedly optimistic" to describe pockets of opportunity in global markets. Interesting word choice, KK, but "mutedly optimistic"? What does that really mean?

When you buy a lottery ticket you are mutedly optimistic, Macke points out but truthfully, in the context of Alcoa, it tells us nothing we didn't already know.

Macke the psyche major then goes on to re-brand Alcoa's 2nd quarter as "the Rorschach Quarter", as in, take a look and make of it what you will.

Next up in the Breakout word bash: Contagion.

European markets - and the common currency - are getting whacked because investors now fear the debt problems of Greece will spread to its neighbors. Two weeks ago, the very same crisis was seen as contained and spurring rallies in the Euro and stock markets all over the world. The truth is, contagion is little more than opportunity for activist bond traders. Debt worries clearly ebb and flow yet the underlying indebtedness has not changed.

It's not all bad. We also focus on a couple of smart things/words that came out.

For example, outgoing Council of Economic Advisers chief Austan Goolsbee was quoted in the WSJ as saying that instead of trying to engineer a new fix for the housing market, "simply focusing on the broader economy" might work better.

And lastly, we take on Trash Talking on Taxes by debunking a popular distortion that says taxes in the U.S. as a percentage of GDP are at a 60 year low. While true, this is largely the result of falling tax revenues not falling rates.

And speaking of rates, and words, all this time and energy spent debating the pros and cons of a tax increase is being spent on tweaks to the statutory rates or tax brackets, when it's the effective rate (what we actually pay) that really matters.

Warren Buffett may have offered his "5-minute solution" to the budget deficit but Macke upped the ante and put forth his own deficit solution in just six words: "Stick it to the Baby Boomers."

That ought to be enough fodder to get the comments rolling. So enjoy the clip and please feel free to add your comments on Word War II down below.