December 20, 2013 5:53 pm

Lexicon: 10 of the best for 2013

The year saw intense interest in some FT Lexicon definitions that helped explain trends such as the precariousness of the western world’s economic recovery. However, all of the terms listed below are drawn from our list of the top 100 terms and many remain in our top 10. With all eyes on Japan’s determined attempt to exit its long period of deflation it is no surprise that Abenomics is ranked near the top.

Abenomics

Bitcoin

Bubblecovery

dark pool

drone

expansionary monetary policy

Mooc

tapering

payday lender

spear phishing

Readers appeared to be interested in reading about expansionary monetary policies. There was debate during the year over whether such policies – which included actions such as quantitative easing and the range of measures brought in by Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in his Abenomics “arrows” – would prove to be inflationary.

The fragile recovery which many developed economies began to experience during the year was condemned by at least one blogger who said the recovery was nothing more than a Bubblecovery, spurred by cheap credit.

Concerns about cheap credit and what it might be doing to the economy went all the way to the top and 2013 was also the year when the US Federal Reserve indicated it might begin tapering, or winding down its bond buying programme, an announcement which threw markets into turmoil.

2013 was also a year which saw the rise of Bitcoin and other digital currencies. Bitcoin suffered huge fluctuations in its value when, for example, speculators and capital flight from Cyprus drove valuations up and then hackers caused values to fall sharply.

Also attracted to anonymity were institutional investors who made growing use of dark pools. These networks that allow traders to buy or sell large orders without running the risk that other traders will see what is going on attracted criticism for their lack of transparency and the impact they would have on stock exchanges.

There was also criticism of another form of financial transaction – the short-term lending at very high interest rates to cash-strapped borrowers. There were calls to cap interest rates in the UK and to change payday lenders’ business practices.

We were reminded of the powers of hackers as high-profile media organisations were subjected to spear phishing attacks. The highly personalised emails allowed hackers to temporarily gain access to a number of media organisations’ systems.

If computer users felt as though they were being served up a slice of the future with the increasing sophistication of cyber attacks, the increasing use of another device underlined that “science fiction” feeling. 2013 saw increasing use of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles in both military and civilian applications.

At the beginning of the year, however, the innovation that stood out the most was the Mooc, or massive open online course. There was so much hype about these free online courses that 2013 was declared the Year of the Mooc. However, by the year’s close some of the early enthusiasm had dimmed. Although millions had signed up for the courses, there was low completion rates and criticism of the quality of some of the provision.

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