Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bail out or bail out?

Today's Financial Times email blast writes:

"Warburg Pincus bales out of Huiyuan Juice" (complete story here).

"Aha!" we think. We have caught the British orange lady in an egregious typo that has gone careening electronically around the world.

"Not so fast!" we advise those of you who share our sense of schadenfreude at the notion that someone with one of those smart sounding accents might make a big, public mistake.

A "bale" is a large bundle of something, as in a "bale" of hay. "Bail" is what we do when the bottom of the boat is filling with water and we use a bucket to empty it out.

What of the emergency escape from an airplane, which is what Warburg is doing (metaphorically) in the Huiyuan deal? Some would argue "bail" (metaphorically getting something out of the boat), some "bale" (as what's being ejected from the metaphorical boat is a big load of something).

None other than the Oxford English Dictionary provides a definitive ruling. Our American-ness wants us to rely upon something less British, however our snobbishness finds the OED sufficiently appealing that we have to give it the final word...which is that either "bail" or "bale" is appropriate.

Regardless, what the Obama administration is doing in the guise of taking credit for the natural cyclicality of markets and nudging us towards European socialism is unequivocally a "bail out."

Let's hope it works, then "bail/bale" out of this approach to one that's more market-based.

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