Back when I was a news editor, there were a few lines that were always the target of the red pen – phrases that took space or time and added little value to the news story.
One that has been around forever and is getting considerable mileage these days is “In these uncertain economic times”. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted more than a few news reporters to embrace the saying and it is even more evident in the writings of non-journalists in social media where they are looking to add some drama.
The problem with the words ‘In these uncertain economic times’ is that they have no value. You really can’t point to a period when there were certain economic times. Compared to today, we should have been saying it two months ago but, of course, we weren’t because you can always find something to be uncertain about.
So as we work our way through the COVID-19 crisis, watch the stock market turn in its best three-day performance since the Great Depression and generally try to figure out what business will look like three months from now, we can take comfort in the fact that these are normal times – they’re uncertain.