Monday, October 13, 2014

Vultures: birds and metaphors

Argentine officials refer to the hedge funds that bought defaulted Argentine debt as "vulture funds."

Some people don't like this. A naturalist group, Aves Argentinas (AA), thinks the term is insulting - to actual vultures.

They probably have a point. After all, carrion-eating birds do have a useful function in their ecosystems. It takes imagination to argue the same for vulture funds in the world economy!

Actual vultures: they don't try to impoverish whole countries

As Soledad Vallejos explains in Los buitres tienen defensores Página/12 13.10.2014:

Si se califica de buitre, es negativo. La repetición de la metáfora, a cuento de juicios y deudas, terminó por subrayar, o más bien afianzar, el uso coloquial nada positivo del adjetivo. Si “fondo buitre” es aquel inversor que compra barata deuda de un país o una empresa débil apostando a un futuro no lejano en el que hará juicio para cobrar lo que parece incobrable, ¿quién podría pensar algo lindo del animal carroñero de marras?

[To be designated as a vulture is a negative thing. The repetition of the metaphor in reference to judges and debts, winds up underlining, or rather strrengthening, the not-at-all positive colloquial use of the adjective. If a "vulture fund" is that investor who buys old debt of a country or an ailing business, betting that in the not distant future that he will go to court to collect what appears uncollectable, who could ever think anything nice about the carrion-feeding animal?]
Another thing to dislike about vulture funds. They're giving innocent birds a bad name!

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