When America Sneezes, Cliches Spread
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Next we're going to rate the health of the world financial markets as reported by a cliche. Here's a phrase that made the news again and again when stock markets slipped this week: When America sneezes, Asia catches cold.
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
A Chinese newspaper said more specifically that when the U.S. sneezes, Shanghai catches cold.
MONTAGNE: In Europe, Britain's Telegraph newspaper reports that when America sneezes, Britain catches a cold.
INSKEEP: The diagnosis was more vague in Johannesburg, where a business publication reports that America sneezes and things get a little feverish in South Africa.
MONTAGNE: That's not vague. That's creative, Steve. The chief economist from Marketwatch.com pulled together all those reports and provides the following analysis. Quote: "When the U.S. sneezes, the rest of the world catches cold."
INSKEEP: When the world's great economic minds gathered for a summit this week in Davos, Switzerland, they scheduled a debate on the question - if America sneezes, does the world still catch a cold?
MONTAGNE: We put that very question to NPR health reporter Allison Aubrey, who's skeptical.
ALLISON AUBREY: Yeah, I am skeptical. I guess the typical spray from a sneeze is only a few feet, which is obviously much shorter than the distance between America and Hong Kong. If the Hang Seng Index catches a cold, it's far more likely to come from shaking America's hand, which is a much more likely way of transmitting a cold.
MONTAGNE: And it may be time to rethink the entire cliche. Maybe when America drinks too much, then Nikkei gets a hangover.
INSKEEP: Or even when the whole world repeats the same stock phrase, we all lose money together.
(Soundbite of recording)
Mr. JIMMY DURANTE (Singer): Ethyl, if you're catching a cold, let me sneeze for you.
Ms. ETHYL MERMAN (Singer) Boy, you've got the equipment.
Mr. DURANTE: What do you mean? What do you mean?
Ms. MERMAN: (Singing) I mean that if I catch a little cold...
Mr. DURANTE: (Singing) I'll sneeze for you.
Ms. MERMAN: (Singing) ...on a frosty winter day.
Mr. DURANTE: (Singing) I'll freeze for you.
Ms. MERMAN: (Singing) If you're restless, I will sail the seas for you to prove that we're...
INSKEEP: You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.