JP Morgan has lost 2 billion dollars on a hedging strategy that was supposed to protect the bank from risk. Some strategy it must have been.
Jamie Dimon, CEO of the bank, has called it an ”egregious” error. In the process he may have unwittingly added a new word to business jargon.
The word itself has interesting origins. In its original Latin form it meant “standing out from the flock” in a positive sort of way. For quite some time now it has meant ‘shockingly bad’.
A phrase that acquired cult jargon status in recent years was “stress test”. The US Fed first used it a few years ago, to describe tests to check if banks could survive risky trades.
International media picked up the phrase pretty quickly. And suddenly everyone in Dubai wanted to “stress test” everything, from interview candidates and re-engineering plans to creative concepts.
I even tried the phrase on a client, told him we had stress tested the advertising. He was suitably impressed and approved everything.
Thankfully, the client did not ask me about the design of the stress test; it was a presentation to his number two, a most painful Lady who was conditioned to reject any recommendation.
So will “egregious” enter business jargon? The only thing going against the word is that it doesn’t roll off the tongue easily. Otherwise, much of what happens in companies can actually be called egregious.