Tue Oct 12 15:47:41 UTC 2010

        "Net net" actually does have a meaning.  It is a valuation
technique in which current assets are netted to reflect uncertainties in
collection (e.g., inventories are valued at liquidation values), and
then liabilities are netted against assets.

        As described, however, HP's job creation number was merely a
"net" number, because there was only one netting process.  There are at
least two possible explanations for Fiorina's use:

                1.      She is using a phrase that sounds impressive but
is meaningless in context (or, perhaps, sounds more impressive than is
really the case), for obfuscatory purposes.  This, I take it, is Jon's

                2.      There actually was a calculation that reflected
two netting processes, but she does not remember what the other netting
process was or feels that she would be unable to describe it concisely.
Based on my experience with CEO spokespersons, this would be my guess.

        There is also something called a "net net net" (or "triple net")
lease, in which the lessee has to pay the net amounts of three types of
costs.  I'm not aware of any quadruple nets, however.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Jonathan Lighter
Sent: Tuesday, October 12, 2010 9:42 AM
Subject: net-net

CNN yesterday:

"FIORINA: I managed Hewlett-Packard through the technology recession,
worst in 25 years, the dot-com bust. But, net-net, we created jobs.

. . .

"BLITZER: So, the 30,000 figures who were laid off during -- I guess the
dot-com bust, if you will, I guess that's true, even though you say you
created more jobs than you than you had -- were forced to lay off? Is
what you're saying?

"FIORINA: Yes. Net-net, we created jobs.

"BLITZER: What does that mean, net-net?

"FIORINA: Well, it means there were more employees working for
Hewlett-Packard the day I left than the day I arrived."

So it means "comparing the later net figure to the earlier."  In other
words, "overall."

A vital element overlooked in the transcript is the impatience in
voice when she had to explain the meaning of "net-net" to a veteran
journalist.  You mean it isn't obvious??

Anyway, if you say "net-net," other *supposedly* intelligent people will
have to ask you what it means, and that puts you in the vital ascendant.


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