Even now the logic appears to be flawed, some of the examples provided by the
author using the simple past tense still manage to stand on their own (Table 2).
As Yule (1998) and Swan (2007) explain, they act as valid background information.
However, without a good bridge-building mechanism using the present perfect,
as Green (2009, p. 87) describes, the author is unable to provide any current explanation
or interpretation of the bubble phenomenon while supporting his arguments with
some truly convincing historical examples written in the past simple, especially when
the article is touching on such a broad topic that has roots and causes that go
far back into history.
Examples of past simple from the Buttonwood text
... the friend who sold his house for millions, the colleague who made
a fortune buying dotcom stocks.
The dotcom boom transferred the wealth of pension funds to 20-somethings
in Silicon Valley.
The feedback mechanism described by Hyman Minsky, an American economist ...
Table 2. Examples of past simple from the Buttonwood text
In fact, the extensive, if not abusive, use of the simple tenses (without the bridge-building)
has blurred the very fine line between the background causes and its latest (and still changing)
development. This is particularly obvious by examining the following statement: "After so many
financial crisis in the past 40 years most reasonable people now accept that bubbles in asset
markets can exist." In this statement, almost 200 years of precious information about the
causes and effects of the six major U.S. bubbles since 1840  got
turned recklessly into some careless, over-simplified prepositional phrases (i.e. "after so
many financial crisis in the past 40 years"), covered up using the factual present simple
(i.e. "people now accept") and nicely decorated and concluded through the
epistemic-potential modal (i.e. "bubbles in asset markets can exist").
The author wrote as if his interpretation were facts we all agreed upon.
While the simple tenses are being "misused" throughout the text, the perfect and the
progressive aspects are not fully utilized either. I can find several instances of the
perfect and the progressive aspect yet the time frames of which are either loosely positioned
or referenced or failed to provide any meaningful tense patterning (Table 3).
Perfect and progressive tense from the Buttonwood text
... economists believe passionately in the principle ...
in recent years many have also argued that central banks can
and should do more to counteract bubbles
Do economists no longer believe in the principle now? Why not
say "economists believed passionately ... in recent years
have also argued ..."?
... if the underlying value of the businesses has not changed, then
the creation of new shares simply dilutes the wealth of existing investors.
Why not write in the form of a conditional sentence, i.e. "if the underlying
value ... does not change ... will dilute ..."
There is also, as Paul Woolley of the London School of Economics has pointed out,
an "agency" problem.
Why the present perfect is definitely OK here, why not use the present simple
to make the point relevant in the present time, i.e. "..., as Paul Woolley
of LSE points out ..."
When prices of goods are rising, manufacturers make more of them.
Should better be: "... prices of goods rise, manufacturers (will) make more ..."
because mainstream manufacturers generally do demand forecasts, they do not
produce on an ad-hoc basis
It does not help that many countries are imposing restrictions on short-selling.
This is the only one I think is acceptable as the author could imply that
restrictions are only temporary.
Table 3. Perfect and progressive from the Buttonwood text and suggested changes
Note 6: The six major bubbles occurred in the U.S. over the last 200 years are the
telegraph bubbles in the 1840s and 1850s, the railroad bubbles in the 1880s and 1890s,
and the stocks and credit bubble in the 1920s during the period of the
Great Depression, see http://money.cnn.com/2007/05/13/news/economy/bubbles_gross/
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For those you who don't have time
to read all our news excerpts about the Asian island
disputes (links above), you may find the following video,
"The economic impact of a war between Japan and China",
"This trial is another example of the Kremlin's attempts to discourage and delegitimize dissent. It is likely to backfire."
John Dalhuisen, Director of Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia Programme
I am proud to announce that
the Commentary.com website is now carrying the technology updates
from Usman Khurshid's Technize.net.
Usman is a network consultant and works in a mixed environment
of Windows and Linux platforms.
He likes to study about the
latest advancements in computer technology and shares his views on his blog.
Oh, please do not get me wrong.
This new section is not about computers, electronics or
any engineering stuff, but rather I am currently constructing
a new corpus based on Spectrum, the monthly publication
from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers USA,
from July 2007 to date. Having been a member for
over 20 years since 1992, I am always fascinated by
some of the terms scientists use when they talk about or
envision their new inventions or methodologies. How many of
them eventually come into practice? Could there be
some insights we could possibly derive, from
the linguistics perspective?
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