Pity poor Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. He doesn't have the same freedom with words that you and I have. We are allowed to express ourselves with sincerity. And if we have to fumble around to get to the point, it's generally harmless.
But when Geithner speaks, he walks across a minefield. Any misstep will be examined under a microscope and extremely fearful people will react instantly, based on what they think he means.
Witness yesterday's drop in the dollar after Geithner's off-the-cuff remark about whose money should be the world's dominant reserve currency.
Any Treasury Secretary or Federal Reserve Chair would be wise to approach the job like Clara Belle or Harpo Marx, and say nothing at all. Yet today Tim Geithner will testify before Congress. About what? Who cares! He'll probably be asked to predict the future. Just don't say anything upsetting!
Here's a list of ten words for the Treasury Secretary to avoid:
"Our sluggish economy is in a free fall. It will drop like a bomb until the inevitable crash leaves a depression-sized crater in the world economy. I predict we will convert to Chinese Currency, nationalize everything, and panic."
I hope to hear:
Our lounge has free candy. I predict on Friday we will laugh with our friend, have extra helpings of warm pie, and play with puppies.
Feel free to make your own happy and unhappy word nominations.