May I have a word about… doom loops

Jonathan Bouquet
A street-art installation in Rome by Italian artist Maupal shows the EU flag being shredded. Photograph: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

In all the bewildering debacle that is Brexit (Canada plus, Canada plus plus plus, backstops, backstop to the backstop – why not go the whole hog and have a long stop as well, plus a catcher at cow corner and a silly mid-on – no shortage of candidates there?), it’s something of a relief to enjoy the possibility of an Italexit.

In particular, that potential crisis has introduced me to a redolent and welcome new phrase - doom loop – “the phenomenon whereby weak banks can destabilise governments that support them and over-indebted governments can push banks holding their bonds over the precipice” (thank you, Bloomberg).

Normally, the City pages are overrun with contagions, gilt yields, corporate debt splurges. covenant-lite loans and their first cousin, a tight covenant structure, all of which, I suspect, are words used solely to befuddle the lay reader. But not so with doom loop – it conjures up powerful images of collapse, chaos and calamitous financial meltdown in the Italian banking system. And if it that were to happen, it would make Brexit very small beer indeed.

• For all the time that I have been writing this column, I have steeled myself against writing about “literally”. But no longer. Last week, overheard on the tube, a young man saying to his female companion: “You’re talking shite. Shite is literally coming out of your mouth.” Enough said.

And taking note of the above, I do feel that Tory MP Johnny Mercer deserves a vote of thanks for his use of “colourful and robust language” (Radio 4), when he described the Brexit negotiations as a “shitshow”. Well said.

• Jonathan Bouquet is an Observer columnist