This headline, for an article about Tiger Woods’s foundering golf-course business, appeared on the front page of the New York Times business section a couple of Sundays ago. (The online headline is more search-engine-friendly.)
“Tigernomics” made me think, of course, of Year of the Tiger Names. But it also reminded me that “-nomics” continues to be the go-to suffix for every trend in search of a pseudo-scientific reason for being.
Here, for example, is a banner I snapped last month at discount retailer Loehmann’s in San Francisco:
Dictionary-type syllabification: very scientific!
Loehmann’s introduced the Loehmannomics sale during 2009’s Recession Spring and has repeated the event each March.
And there’s more:
- Insurance company GEICO, which employs a Cockney-talking animated gecko in some of its TV spots, ran print ads last fall touting “Geckonomics 101: A Primer on How to Save Money Car Insurance.”
- Socialnomics is the title of a book published in 2010 (subtitle: “How Social Media Transforms the Way We Do Business”) and a related blog.
- “Happynomics” surfaced in 2007 after Deutsche Bank published a paper on four strains of capitalism: “happy,” “less happy,” “unhappy,” and “Far Eastern.” (Huh?) The term was revived last month when British Prime Minister David Cameron decided to create a national happiness index.
- Spousonomics: Using Economics to Master Love, Marriage and Dirty Dishes, by Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson, was published earlier this year. There’s a blog, too.
- Nieman Journalism Lab coined “newsonomics” in a recent headline about the New York Times’s new paywall.
Back in August 2007, The Economist’s advertising columnist, David Kiley, asked (or stated—the headline ends with a period) “Is ‘–onomics’ the new ‘-Gate.’” His subject: Emotionomics, “a new book by a marketing guy named Dan Hill.” Kiley hadn’t yet read the book:
But the mere title makes me think I’d be smart to tack “onomics” onto my next book. It’s an obvious attempt to catch some wind from the prop wash (a pilot’s term to describe the wind forces you encounter when flying behind another plane) of “Freakonomics.”
Recall, however, that Freakonomics wasn’t a wholly original coinage. The -nomics trend goes back to Nixonomics, invented in late 1969 as “an umbrella term for the economic policies of President Richard Milhous Nixon.” (Source: World Wide Words.) Nixonomics begat Reaganomics, Clintonomics, Bushonomics, and Obamanomics. (Two authors have written books titled Obamanomics. The subtitle of the one by John R. Talbot, published in July 2008, is “How Bottom-Up Economic Prosperity Will Replace Trickle-Down Economics in the Obama Presidency”; the subtitle of the one by Timothy P. Carney, published in November 2009, is “How Barack Obama Is Bankrupting You and Enriching His Wall Street Friends, Corporate Lobbyists, and Union Bosses.”)
The hyperproductive -nomics suffix has also given us ergonomics (coined around 1950), burgernomics (coined by The Economist in 1986 to describe an informal index of purchasing power parity), and Enronomics (“a fraudulent accounting technique that involves a parent company making artificial paper-only transactions with its subsidiaries to hide losses the parent company has incurred through business activities”).
What do you predict the next -nomics will be?
UPDATE: In a comment, Joel Makower drew my attention to Vespanomics, “the ecological, economic, and personal satisfaction one achieves after buying a Vespa scooter.” We can tell that Vespanomics is Real and Serious because the definition includes syllabification and random diacritical marks: VÉS PÁ NÄM ÍKS.