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Public Discourse under the Financial Crisis in the U.S and Canada Research Paper

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Updated: May 24th, 2019


Many authorities have considered the occurrences of the 2008 financial crisis a historic occurrence that brought many challenges to the entire economic world and changed how the world does business. To date, the effects of this crisis still resonate in different parts of world’s economy.

The number of people that lost their jobs, the number of companies that ran into bankruptcy and dwindled in self-destruction through foreclosures and closures, the amount of money that was pumped into the economy by governments as stimuli to guard investors and businesses and the amount of cuts that was done to most national budgets to cater for the crisis are elements of the crunch that make it one of the most outstanding in modern history.

The US and Canada equally had its share of the challenge and it actually it is surmised now that the crunch was triggered by developments in the US market in the real estate and banking industries (Camiciottoli, 2009).

The central focus of the paper will be discovering public discourse that are related to the 2008 financial crisis where it will determine the contents of these articles and analyze and consider them regarding the way they have been written and the theoretical concepts the authors employed in conveyance of the information contained therein.


Public discourse under the financial crisis in the U.S and Canada

The global financial crisis triggered by bankruptcy of the investment bank-Lehman Brothers – since September 2008 has been likened to a tsunami – or so commonly called the ‘financial tsunami’.

The analogy is appropriate because just as a tsunami, the economic depression has a geographical origin (in the suburban housing market in the US) but spreading geographically over vast regions of the world. In doing so, the crisis has impacted significantly on global economies all over the world albeit it to a varying degree of intensity (Camiciottoli, 2009).

Background of the study

Financial crisis is a situation that is characterized by high levels of unemployment, a drop in prices of commodities and having low trade and investment opportunities. In 2008 the world suffered a financial crisis which was thought to have originated from the United States of America.

It began in late 2007 and headed on to 2008 affecting the economy of the entire universe. It is said to have been caused by the unfavorable lending ways in the United States of America and the rising trend of acquiring real estate loans. Rising food and oil crisis is also cited as a factor that led to this phenomenon.

Loans lost their value as assets prices slammed thus making large financial institutions such as the banks to have huge losses that amounted to them needing financial assistance which in turn led to the rescue packages from the governments. Its effects are felt to date and the world’s economy has not yet fully recovered with many pundits suggesting that the United States economy will take until late 2011 for it to fully recover.

In recent times, there has been a number of research and study on the global financial crisis. The available discourse has specifically addressed the question of its cause and its economic effects to other countries. As much as there has been some study on the financial crisis, there has been little or no research on public discourse of the financial crisis of 2008.

This paper will view the public discourse in regard to the 2008 global financial crisis as well as the genre involved in relation to the financial crisis. It is determined that studies that have been done on this topic in the last four years have mostly used single genre which means that they have obtained their information from a single main source like the newspapers (McCloskey, 2002).

In addition to this, the paper sets out to analyze the financial column beginning with single genre where it will evaluate financial columns articles finding out there rhetoric analysis and stating their ideologies.

The paper will attempt to prove that financial columnists’ writings (which is constitutes of articles that are published in newspapers) are a single genre and this will be done by applying the genre theory. The paper will then analyze the rhetoric devices and finally connect rhetoric devices used by each columnist with their political ideology.

Research Gap

There have been a number of studies on the discourse of economics but currently there is little or no research that is published on the discourse in the financial arena especially regarding the global crunch of 2008.

In this regard therefore, the research gap for this paper will only be restricted to the discourse and genre analysis that is directly or indirectly connected to the 2008 global financial crisis whose effects and influence on world economies are still felt even now. Based on previous researches, the financial column articles will first be defined as a single genre.

Then, rhetoric analysis on financial column articles will be conducted particularly connecting with the financial crisis (McCloskey, 2002). Finally, from looking at the financial columnists’ writing, their ideologies and perceptions about the research question will be studied as well.

Research Questions

This research in order to realize its objectives, it will set out to answer a number of questions. These questions are all steered towards answering the research objectives and the appropriateness and success of the paper will be determined by the level of satisfaction to which these questions are answered. They are:

  1. What effects does the recent financial crisis have on the public discourse in the U.S. and Canada?
  2. Do the financial columnists constitute a single genre? If yes, why?
  3. What are the rhetoric devices used by the financial columnists when talking about the financial crisis?
    • What new phrases or terms are created by financial columnists due to financial crisis? And what phrase and terms have changes in frequency or meaning in relating with the financial crisis?
    • What kinds of rhetoric devices are frequently used by the financial columnists when talking about financial crisis, for example, metaphor or figurative language?
    • How do financial columnists use the rhetoric devices to persuade newspapers readers to agree with their opinion about the financial crisis?
  4. In what ways is the ideology of financial columnists reflected in their use of rhetoric devices?
  5. Chapter Two: Literature Review

The concept of genre theory, rhetoric analysis and ideology inspire the design of research questions of this study. Some concepts that are considered traditional are at times intrinsically problematic. They are usually defined by using similarities they have in different respects such as: in strategies and approaches used in the discourse, the audience intended and in the mode of thinking opted for (Miller, 1984).

The incomplete and sometimes conflict opinions prevent a coherent and integrated comprehension of genres. Comparing with traditional genre concepts, the contemporary genre theories has been a matter of considerable discussion in research communities throughout the world. The Sydney School analysts such as Bazerman (1993) and Swales (1990) have used the concept to complement the Hallidayan notion of register.

In America the seminal work of Miller (1984), Swales (1990), Bazerman (1993) have contributed to a wider understanding of the concept of genre by defining the concept, introducing models suitable for performing genre analyses, and not least capturing the complexities of genre systems and genre development.

The theorists of American school “tend to describe genres in terms of family resemblances among texts” (Swales, 1990, p.49). Some of texts used in a specific genre are at times compared and illustrated by the theorist involved when the approach of family resemblance if used.

From this perspective, if the researcher finds similarities among the financial column articles, it is able to define the financial columnists’ articles as a single genre. However, such approach has been criticized on the basis that “no choice of a text for illustrative purposes is innocent and such theories can make any text seem to resemble any other one” (Swales, 1990, pp.50-51).

The modern genre theory is situated in several streams of thoughts that recognize the social nature of a text, including the social constructivism that is shaping contemporary academic thought in social sciences and humanities, as well as sociologists’ contribution (Freedman & Medway, 1994).

Miller’s (1984) statement on genre as social action is often remarked by researchers as the emergence of the modern genre concept. Miller suggests that genres are basically typical responses to some given rhetorical situations.

This perspective also enables the researcher to define the financial column articles as a single genre. According to Freedman & Medway (1994) “how we define a genre depends on our purposes; the adequacy of our definition in terms of social science at least must surely be related to the light that the exploration sheds on the phenomenon” (Freedman & Medway, 1994, p.3).

It is important to study how readers identify different genres as a way of understanding how genres determine the way readers interpret given texts and this approach is important as it is reflective (Freedman & Medway, 1994). Therefore, if we analyze the financial column articles in relating with the recent financial crisis from a newspaper reader’s perspective, we are able to define financial columnists’ writing as a certain genre.

To identify or analyze the financial related column articles, it is interesting to explore how financial columnist use rhetorical devices to express their opinions on the financial crisis. The history of rhetoric concept has been greatly influenced by Aristotle’s emphasis on persuasion in his classical approach to the topic as discussed by Miller (1984). His terms such as ethos, pathos and logos are all connected with invention.

Ethos “accounts for features of texts related to the trustworthiness and credibility of the rhetoric concept; pathos accounts for the persuasive reasons in an argument that derive from a community’s mostly deeply and fervently held values; and logos accounts for the sound reasons that emerge from intellectual reasoning” (Miller, 1984, p.284).

Miller (1984) further explains invention as the reflection rhetoric concept and points out that ordinarily, they do not create original arguments from scratch, but rather appropriate arguments they discover in their research, in the course of their training, in reports of research by others, in other speeches or essays, and in cultural ideas (Miller, 1984).

The scholar further says “invention also reflects the creative role of the rhetoric concept in selecting and adapting arguments and evidence in ways best suited to the occasion and audience and to her or his purpose, and in organizing these into effective whole” (Miller, 1984, p.96). From the modern rhetoric perspective, Bazerman (1993) suggests a wider concept of rhetoric from Aristotle’s focus on persuasion.

In this sense, to communicate rhetorically is to use language in such a way that our audience perceives the validity of what we are saying or writing (using other symbol systems, such as visual texts, to communicate). In other words, it is “to enable us to use symbols as wisely and skillfully as possible, aware as we can be of the choices before us and their implication” (Bazerman, 1993, p.4).

Figurative language is the comparing of something with other things either by using words to suggest that the two are alike (simile), draw a verbal picture by use of comparison (metaphor), human character being given to inmate objects and animals (personification), repetition of the same letter and sound in a series of words (alliteration), using words to imitate sounds made by objects or actions (onomatopoeia) and exaggerated statements that are so true to be believed (hyperbole).

It also includes idioms, overstatement, understatement and clichés. Financial columnist use figurative language to arouse the imagination of the reader, make the reader more interested in the story and identify with the issues raised in the column. It refers to the expression of social dimensions either by feelings and emotions as perceived by self.

Figurative language is mostly used when meaningful or crucial events have happened such as the instance where the crisis is described as ‘a monster that had usurped serenity from the world economics’ which is a personification of the crisis and the use of monster is metaphoric to imply its severity and veracity as regard the effects it caused to the global economy (Camiciottoli, 2009).

In language and ideology, a financial columnist will construct a reality according to his perceptions, ideology of the publishers and the intended audience (Friedman, 2008). It is recommended that language must meet the prevailing social, economic and psychological needs. It has been pointed out that discourse by financial columnist is a mediated system based on ideological bias.

The same spoken words by a person may be interpreted by different views and social constructs hence retold differently. The concept of ideology is informed by the understanding of perception which forms people’s ideologies making them to make arguments in specific ways to meet specific ends.

According to McCloskey (2002) columnists and persons who convey their perceptions to the general public through the media either by written or spoken word, their prejudices and predetermined objectives for which they write and seek to communicate their information is a huge factor to the authenticity of the information.

This apparent scenario is the basis on which biasness and impartiality sneaks into professional writing and communication (McCloskey, 2002).


Review of Textual Analysis Methodology Used for the Study

The following review of the methodology of this research paper is a review of different elements of research methodology that were central to this study. According to Denzin & Lincoln (2004), they give five designs that are used for investigating different elements of a research problem and these are: action research, survey, experiment, case study, and internet research.

A survey is carried out to compare the characteristics of different elements of a research. The researcher gathers data from each area of interest within the study, and then analyzes them statistically. According to Bless and Higson-Smith (1995) a textual analysis seeks to gain insight into a phenomenon to provide basic information in an area of study.

The strength of the survey method is evident in its ability to study, describe, explore and analyze relationships among gathered subjects (Sproul, 1995). A case study is conducted to find out the characteristics of a particular situation or element of research and does not require control over behavioural events, and focuses on contemporary events (Yin, 2004).

Experiments are not commonly used in management research but instead they are usually set up to compare two separate groups of respondents. All variables in both groups are controlled, except for the variable being studied (Yin, 2004).

The main research approach within social science, according to Yin (2004), is qualitative. Text analysis which is a qualitative method of research focuses on gaining a deeper understanding of a problem, by collecting and analyzing data on ideas, feelings and attitudes.

According to Sarantakos (2002), these research methods are mainly phenomenological, and that its purpose is to understand the current situation from the participants’ perspective.

Taking the above into consideration, the current study adopted a qualitative approach, as literary and financial parameters can be assessed using empirical data. In addition, a deductive research approach was preferred, as there is plenty of literature on the study topic, which was examined before data collection and analysis. The method used for this paper was a textual analysis (Bouma, 2000).

Critique of Chosen Research Method

This study was a textual analysis study, which is appropriate in collecting information about economic, financial, people’s attitudes, opinions, habits or social issues which are important statistical data for what happened during the 2008 financial crisis as reviewed from different articles that will be analyzed.

According to Bless and Higson-Smith (1995) studies that are analytical aim at investigating phenomena with the sole aim of availing minimum information in the area of interest.

Textual analysis was preferred to case study, as a case study requires an acute focus on particular organizations that were hard hit by the financial crunch and in so doing requires very particulate details about the organization and the whole situation which means that this study was a textual analysis study (Babbie, 2001).

In addition, it was not feasible to select two sections of the market and subject them to exactly the same set of conditions. Action research could not be done on the research topic as it requires active participation of respondents through interviews and questionnaires which was not done for this paper (Sarantakos, 2002).

Finally, textual analysis was chosen since the analysis was to be done on articles and paper reviews found in journals and print media.

The paper predominantly relied on data gathered from specific texts about the research topic for its analysis and discussion. These primary data was collected through a review of published and unpublished materials such as articles, seminar papers, conference proceedings, business journals, newspapers and periodicals.

These materials basically helped to corroborate the information obtained from the primary research and data just as personal observations are handy in attaining the same purpose (Sproul, 1995).

The data for this paper was collected from articles and reviews from different authors about the research topic and this data was collected through the software of factiva. The articles that were selected were those written by the following authors among others: Peter Forster, Lawrence Solomon, David Olive, Paul Krugman, Thomas Friedman, Holman Jenkins and Frank Rich.

These authors write for reputable newspapers and journals such as New York Times, Wall Street Journal and National Post whose articles and stories are of the highest professional standing and repute. In addition to this, the authors were also chosen for their reputation, professionalism and authority in the area of financial management as well as their fame.

For instance, Paul Krudeman won the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. This means that their writing therefore has capacity to influence and impact other writers’ and can be used as studies and references.

Four journals were used and these were; The New York Times, the Toronto Star, The Wall Street Journal and the National Post. These journals were chosen for this study because of their political affiliation that they hold: The New York Times and The Toronto Star present Leftwing perceptions to their discussions whereas The Wall Street Journal and The National Post present Rightwing perceptions to their discussions.

This was important since it would bring out the interaction of language as used by the writers and their ideologies as shall be seen in the results and analysis section.

Results and Discussion

From the information that was gathered from this study from different financial articles, there are insights that were found of great importance to this paper. The 2008 financial crunch was one that precipitated from different triggers that had been happening for sometime mainly in the US market.

The article “The Democratic Recession, 2008” has three main areas of interest that it discuses and these are: Invention, using of metaphoric or figurative language, and thirdly meaning and change (Friedman, 2008).

For the research question regarding rhetoric devices used by these columnists, there are a number of new phrases and terms that are used by the writers to refer to the crisis. The first phrase is ‘financial crumble’ which refers to the free-fall through which the economy went through.

Paul Krudeman indicates that the 2008 financial crumble was an economic trouble that was triggered by a crisis in liquidity in the US’ banking system that resulted in the collapse of major economic movers in the world.

This liquidity led to the complete crumble of big financial institutions, led to bail out of banks and other financial institutions by governments and also led to downturns of stock markets business throughout the entire globe (Krugman, 2008).

In major world economies, the areas that also suffered appreciable included such economic sectors as the housing industry which resulted in massive foreclosures, prolonged vacancies and evictions. Put on a scale, many economists like (Krugman, 2008; Friedman, 2008; Olive, 2009) consider this financial crisis the worst ever to occur to global economy from the 1930s Great Depression.

The article, “What a Lovely Recession! A Response to the idea that Austerity is Good for Us, 20009” further surmises that the effects of this crisis in a snapshot were extensive and permeated all areas of economic wellbeing:

from key businesses failing, decline in thousands of billions of US dollars consumer wealth to dire financial constraints faced by governments throughout the country and a remarkable decline in global economic activity (Foster, 2009).

The whim with which this crisis devastated global economy has been an area of interest for many experts who have come up with various ways of explanation to try and demystify the circumstances that surrounded this economic crumble and in the process have come up with novel recommendations that have been implemented to save the economy ever since then (Woods, 2009).

The article “Responding to Recession, 2008” by Krugman in The New York Times is another public discourse that further shades light on this financial crisis. From the article, the widely accepted trigger of this crisis was the various circumstances surrounding major economic movers in the world. Housing Bubble is the other phrase that is used in connection to the crisis.

Housing Bubble in the US in 2006 is considered to have set in the domino effect that led to the collapse of the entire industry. This bubble set in place plummeting of securities that were tied to real estate prices and they damaged financial institutions throughout the world (Friedman, 2008).

There was the point involving bank solvency, tainted investor confidence and reduction in the availability of credit which also negatively impacted the global economy especially as securities ended up suffering huge losses in that period. These events led to the slow progress of global economy causing credit to tighten and international trade to decline (Hull, 2007).

The author also adds that it is the reluctance of investors and credit rating agencies to adequately and appropriately price the risk these events were suscepting to the economy especially in the banking sector and mortgage-related financial specifications that further plunged the world economies in tantrums.

The panic that the events caused in institutions and governments prompted governments into initiating stimulus packages to aid these crumbling institutions (Hull, 2007). These fiscal stimuli were initiated by governments and central banks and involved expansion of monetary policies and bailouts for institutions (Hull, 2007).

The research question regarding the effect that this crisis has had on the public discourse in the US and Canada, is well shown in the nature and content of these discourses regarding the crisis. Most of these discourses carry information about the events that preceded the crisis.

To illustrate this, the following discussion captured by Foster, (2009) is used to show how public discourse has shown great interest in the crisis trying to understand events that triggered it and ones that may have avoided the whole debacle.

They indicate that the housing industry boom was short lived since housing prices fell leading to institutions that had heavily invested in the housing market to record remarkable losses and these falling prices also led to foreclosures since homes had also become worthless in comparison to the worth of the mortgage loans taken (Foster, 2009).

The effect of this development was that consumer wealth was constrained and the financial strength of the banking system was eroded. To illustrate this, the following figure is used to show an average and medium prices used for homes that were sold in the US from 1963 to 2008.

Figure 1: Show an average and medium prices used for homes that were sold in the US from 1963 to 2008.

An average and medium prices used for homes that were sold in the US.

(Sullivan & Sheffrin, 2002)

According to Friedman (2008) it is surmised that the years preceding the crisis, financial institutions including banks were indebted (a condition that may also be called overleveraged) and this increased the level to which these institutions were vulnerable to the crumpling of the housing industry and these effects triggered the financial crisis to a larger extent.

In this regard, there are fundamental statistics that can help shade some more light on the status of the crisis before, during and after the crisis. The following are the statistics given by this article:

  • There was a general doubling of money that consumers used from home equity extraction from $ 627 billion (in 2001) to $ 1 428 billion (in 2005) and over the crisis period, it hit a height of over $5 trillion and this led to global economic growth. The US GDP in comparison to home mortgage debt decreased averagely from 54 percent in 1990s to 27 percent in 2008 reaching a maximum of $10.5 trillion (Hull, 2007).
  • The United State of America’s debt had risen from 1981’s 123 percent of the GDP to 2008’s 290 percent of the GDP

Between 2004 and 2007, five of the top banks in the US had their financial leverage increase so much that their vulnerability equally increased leading to tremors of panic in the whole industry and this is captured in the figure below. They reported an abnormally large debt of about $4.1 trillion in 2007 which as a percentage of the overall US nominal GDP for that year was over 30 percent (Hull, 2007).

To show just how harsh the conditions were for these institutions, the following additional statistics should suffice: Merrill Lynch and Bear Steams were sold at a throw-away-price, Lehman Brothers ended up being liquidated and Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs were forced to become commercial banks thereby suscepting themselves to more stringent regulations by the government.

The way things turned out, all these institutions (with the exception of Lehman Brothers) required at some point and eventually got government support to aid them from the crunch (Hull, 2007).

Figure 2: Leverage ratios of investment banks from 2003-2007

Leverage ratios of investment banks from 2003-2007.

The US government had to put Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae into conservatorship since they had guaranteed almost $5 trillion worth in mortgage obligations (Hull, 2007).

These public articles further make very interesting analysis of the events surrounding the 2008 financial crisis which addresses the research question about writers’ ideology regarding.

It is found from these articles that by late September 2008, there was a 20 percent decline in the average prices of the US housing market and this decline made customer who had borrowed from banks unable to honour their payment agreement and this defaulting and this necessitated foreclosures.

Almost 1.3 million properties were closed in the same period which translated to about 79 percent increase in the foreclosure in comparison to 2006 fiscal year (Friedman, 2008).

Statistics show that these trends increased to nearly 2.3 million properties in 2008 and by the time it was August 2008, over 9.2 percent of the entire US mortgages were either in foreclosure or delinquent (Woods, 2009). These statistics had increased to 14.4 percent by the time it was September 2009.

There is an interesting interaction between language and ideology from the study of these articles. They have been taken from four newspapers two with a Leftwing perception and two with a Rightwing perception of what caused the financial crisis.

The New York Times and the Toronto Star present the Leftwing perception whereas the Wall Street Journal and the National Post present the Rightwing perception. According the Leftists’ perception, the financial crisis was caused by greedy capitalism system which as Krugman points out was predicated on the need to have a universal policy that would govern business operations in the housing industry.

These self-preservation policies led to a precipitate in the economy with people heavily borrowing from financial institutions which eventually became un-sustainable hence the crisis.

On the contrary, the Rightists perceive that the crisis was caused by President Bill Clinton’s stimulus policies that sought to cushion companies and the public from the effects of the looming recession.

These policies were then responsible for the US’ rising Current Account Deficit (CAD). It has been explained (as shown in the figure below) that the US’ CAD increased by $650 (which was from 1.5 to 5.8 percent of the GDP) in the period between 1996 and 2004 and this necessitated the US government to heavily borrow from abroad so as to finance these deficits.

The economic law that guides such matters requires that a country that is running CAD (trade) needs to also have Capital Account Surplus (investment, CAS) that measures with the latter (Krugman, 2008).

Figure 3: U.S. Current Account or Trade Deficit (CAD)

U.S. Current Account or Trade Deficit (CAD).

For the consideration of this crisis as a financial tsunami, there are explanations that led to its devastation that are given as discussion points for these articles. These developments were mainly the following as found from this research.

Sub-prime lending

This concept is defined as being applicable to borrowing clients whose credit histories and tendencies of defaulting repayment agreements on loans are higher than those of prime borrowers (Woods, 2009). Statistics show that US subprime mortgages’ value was approximately $ 1.3 million in March 2007 and this was accompanied with more than 7.5 million outstanding first-lien subprime mortgages in the same period.

Easy credit conditions, government pressure and competition were among the things that greatly contributed to the increase in subprime lending and especially during the crisis (Krugman, 2008). In fact, enterprises sponsored by the government and major investment banks were among the economic players that expanded high-risk lending tendencies among consumers in the US.

The history surrounding subprime mortgages indicates interesting tendencies that would most definitely lead to financial downturn sooner or later. It was below 10 percent for the entire mortgage originations till 2004 fiscal year and from here it plummeted to almost 20 percent remaining there throughout to 2005-06 where it hit its peak during the US Housing Bubble.

One thing that contributed to this was a government decision in April 2004 where the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) resolved to loosen the net capital rule and this regulation lured the five largest investment banks towards increasing the issuance of securities that were mortgage-backed appreciably and increasing what can be referred to as their financial leverage (Woods, 2009).

It is in this regard that some economic analysts such as Woods (2009) believe that it was the subprime lending by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae who further, owing to these competitive pressures, continued their riskier lending habits expanding subprime lending, trends which led to the delinquency rates to increase drastically to about 25 percent by the beginning of 2008 (Woods, 2009). See figure below.

Figure 4. US Subprime Lending in the period preceding the Crisis

US Subprime Lending in the period preceding the Crisis.

From the preceding discussion, it can be argued that the writers’ ideology took a centre stage in the discussion of these articles. The writers had their pre-determined analytical perception of the crisis and the events that led to its precipice which they extensively discuss and use financial and economic theories to prove their ideologies.

Even empirical data and graphical representations are used to support these ideologies and expertise with which these ideologies are presented; it is satisfactory and convincingly appropriate to surmise that their ideologies give a fair representation and understanding of the 2008 financial crisis.

In summing up the findings of this research, it is observed that these public discourses that have been used for this study covered appreciably the issue of the 2008 financial crisis. Most of the information captured in these articles was informed by the author’s ideologies which as discussed in the literature review meant that the author’s wrote their articles influenced by specific areas and notions of interests that they had initially.

The use of tsunami as a phrase to refer the financial crisis is figurative as it associates the devastation that was caused by this financial crisis to the devastations that tsunamis cause in human displacement, deaths, destruction of property and infrastructures. This is among the most overt areas where metaphors, similes and figures of speech have been used in these public discourses (Krugman, 2008).

By using metaphors that are well known to their audience like the tsunami, the authors are able to present their message to their audience in a way that can be identified with and one that is easy to understand and capture. This answers the research question regarding how effective the authors have used figurative language to effectively and conveniently convey their message to their audience in the process convincing them.

In addition, the contents of these articles are restricted to single concepts and topics which from the definition of single genre as given in literature review, is an indication that the writers’ articles are single genres.

The proof of this is that these financial columns contain similar corroborating information which is in specific reference to the 2008 financial crisis trying to explain events that led to its occurrence and trying to explain its effects to the world thereafter.

Also, all the articles are steered towards wanting to convince the audience to believe the writers’ standpoints and perceptions regarding the topic of interest and this is what confirms them as single genre articles.


In conclusion therefore, it has been found from preceding discussion that the recent financial crisis has had effect on public discourse as it most of these discourse carry concepts attempting to explain what led to the crisis. In addition, it has been found that in doing this different authors use different approaches and styles of writing to convey their sentiments across to the audience.

As regards the second research question, it was found that these financial columnists constituted a single genre because they carry related information regarding the financial crisis and the style of their writing is similar with the writers seeking to convince their audiences through their ideologies and personal standpoints (Krugman, 2008).

The research also found that there are different rhetoric devices that are used by these financial columnists when talking about financial crisis. Some of the new phrases coined in reference to the crisis include among others ‘housing bubble’ to refer to the shakeup that was in the housing industry in 2007 before the crisis and ‘financial crumble’ to refer to the free-fall of the financial state of the world economy at the time.

Figurative language was also found to have been used appreciably with the use of metaphoric language like the reference to the crisis as a ‘financial tsunami’ to bring out the devastation that the crisis caused.

Tsunami is a term that refers to the oceanic waves that come when an earthquake occurs on the sea bed and usually rise as high as twenty metres flooding the entire coastline and even reaching into the mainland. The experience with tsunamis especially on the coastal towns and linings like Virginia and New York is usually catastrophic bringing down infrastructure, buildings, destroying wealth and causing massive casualties.

This kind of devastation in human and material loss is the one that makes the reference to the 2008 financial crisis as a financial tsunami very appropriate and effective in its relevance given the equal financial devastation that the crisis caused to people and businesses (Woods, 2009).

These rhetoric devices have been ingeniously used by the columnists to convince their writers in a number of ways: to bring emphasis, they have repetitively used their metaphoric language like the case of Krugman whose use of financial tsunamis respectively creates the mental picture associated with tsunamis in the context of the events around the 2008 crisis.

It has also been determined that these financial columnists have constructed a reality according to their perceptions and ideology for their intended audience (Bazerman, 1993). There has been found to be a clear way in which ideology of these columnists has been reflected in their use of rhetoric devices and these has been found to be as regards their perceived standpoints in their stories.

Krugman for instance clearly presents in his writings an ideology of devastation which largely determines his choice of such metaphoric language like ‘financial tsunami’ which shows the devastation that according to him plagued the globe during the crisis (Krugman, 2008).

This means therefore that columnists and persons who convey their perceptions to the general public through the media either by written or spoken word, their prejudices and predetermined objectives for which they write and seek to communicate their information is a huge factor to the authenticity of the information.

This apparent scenario is the basis on which biasness and impartiality sneaks into professional writing and communication (Bazerman, 1993).

This paper had limitations of scope and applicability where it only was restricted to the area of financial crisis to discuss public discourses and the effect of writers’ ideologies on their writing. This therefore means that the findings may not be applicable to other un-related topics in its surmises and conclusion although it is expected that there is a close relationship between the general trends of the findings.

The scope of the research was also limited to journal articles only and did not include other published literature which gives opportunity and occasion of extensive research to be done on a wider scale to come up with more representative results and conclusions.

This notwithstanding, this research was a very significant entry point in this field of research providing initial sentiments that are imperative in this kind of text analysis in relating writers’ ideologies and use of rhetoric devices in writing to convince their audience.

All in all in a word, the findings of this paper are a strong indication that the public discourse related to the 2008 financial crisis are plenty and satisfactory in their explanation of the crisis and all the elements that were central to the entire events preceding the crisis and events after the crisis.


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IvyPanda. 2019. "Public Discourse under the Financial Crisis in the U.S and Canada." May 24, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/public-discourse-under-the-financial-crisis-in-the-u-s-and-canada-research-paper/.


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