From its humble beginnings in a speech by Ben Bernanke to its surge to the top of the American lexicon, the "fiscal cliff" was banished to the annals of history Wednesday to the delight of many of the populace bedeviled by the term.
But it wasn't just passage by Congress of a budget act Tuesday that put an end to our national nightmare, it was also the term taking the No. 1 slot in Lake Superior State University's annual list of banished words.
"Fiscal cliff" garnered the most nominations for this year's "List of Words to be Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse," which has been put out every New Year's Eve since 1975 by Michigan's smallest public university. Second on the list was the phrase "kick the can down the road."
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"If Congress acts to keep the country from tumbling over the cliff, LSSU believes this banishment should get some of the credit," said the university in a press release Tuesday before the House vote.
The list got the honor of a mention in a research note Wednesday by long-time Wall Street strategist and linguist Ed Yardeni.
"The 112th Congress successfully scrambled during the first two days of the new year to avert the fiscal cliff by kicking the can down the road," wrote the founder of Yardeni Research after referencing the LSSU list.
The one-time strategist for Prudential and Deutsche Bank is widely credited with coining such financial terms as "Bond Vigilantes" and "Fed Model."
"Fiscal cliff" was first thrust into the spotlight during testimony by Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke in February of last year.
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"Under current law, on January 1, 2013, there's going to be a massive fiscal cliff of large spending cuts and tax increases," said Bernanke then. "I hope that Congress will look at that and figure out ways to achieve the same long-run fiscal improvement without having it all happen at one date."
But it wasn't really until the fourth quarter around the election before the term started to surge in terms of search volume on Google, peaking at the end of this year as the deal was completed.
"My clients are tired of hearing it and it conjures up a bit of anger as to how we got to this cliff in the first place," said Richard Rosso of Clarityfinancial. "I'm for banishment."
The university, located 300 miles north of Detroit on the Canadian border, said it has received "tens of thousands of nominations" for the list over the years.
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