Metaphors of Manufacturing, Banking and Investing

In my final installment on metaphors of business, I describe conceptual metaphors derived from banking and investing.  As a sidebar, I also include a section on metaphors based on manufacturing activities such as producing items for sale.  Our experiences with business and banking practices are clearly sources of conceptual metaphors to describe local and national politics.



Products are anything produced by a company in a factory such as cars, brooms, computers, etc.  People can also be products of the educational or political systems in which they were trained.

Example:  In 2008, critics of Barack Obama complained that he was a product of corrupt Chicago politics.

The Sears, Roebuck catalog from 1907
The Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalog from 1907


                  A catalog is a listing of all products available for sale.  In metaphorical terms, one can also have a catalog of other abstract ideas, such as illnesses, problems, or controversies.

Example:  Every U.S. president faces a whole catalog of problems including economic crises, defense concerns, and constant tax issues.

new brand of politics

A brand is the name of a company that owns or sells something.  Other abstract ideas can also be brands.

Example:  Supporters of Barack Obama claim that he brought in a new brand of politics in 2008 with an emphasis on helping the poor and the middle class.

novelty candidate

                  A novelty is a product that is made and sold as something new and unusual that hopefully everyone will want to buy.  These are usually toys such as hula hoops or pet rocks.  In real terms, the word novelty usually implies that the product is not very serious or useful.  In  politics, a novelty candidate is someone new to politics and has new ideas, but is not taken seriously by mainstream media or politicians.

Example:  As the first woman candidate for president in many years, Hillary Clinton tried to avoid the label of being a novelty candidate.


                  Another word for making something is to manufacture it, as in a product from a factory.  In metaphorical terms, someone can manufacture an idea, a problem or a reaction to something.

Example:  Sometimes politicians manufacture fear about some social problem so that the public will support them to spend money on solving the problem.  


In business, a trademark is a legal licensing of a certain name or picture that no one else can use.  In politics, a trademark is something that it associated with a specific person.

Example:  John McCain showed his trademark honesty and straightforward talk in the 2008 presidential election.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange
The Tokyo Stock Exchange


                  Stock is all of the products that a company has at one time.  The word stock can be used as both a noun and a verb.  For example, a grocery store keeps its stock in the back rooms; however a worker in the store can also stock the shelves with the products.  The word stock can have other meanings as well.  Animals held by ranchers are called livestock.  Shares of investments in large companies are also called stocks.  A person who trades stocks is a stockbroker.  Metaphorically, anything or anyone can also be stocked, meaning there is a great deal of those items or people.

Example:  Mayors, governors and presidents stock their staffs with intelligent hard-working people who can help their bosses do the jobs they need to do.

Example:  A company stocked with dishonest workers will eventually close and its directors may go to jail.

take stock

                  Companies must count all of their stock at regular times so they know exactly how many products they have.  This is sometimes called taking inventory or taking stock.  In metaphorical terms, to take stock means to reflect on or analyze something that just happened.

Example:  The 9/11 attacks in New York made Americans take stock of how well the country was being defended.


Banking and Investing 

The First American Bank in Ranger, Texas
The First American Bank in Ranger, Texas

bank on

Most people put their money in banks because their money is safe there.  The phrase to bank on something means that it is something one is confident will work out well.


Example:  In 2003, the Bush administration banked on having a quick end to the Iraq war, but it dragged on for years afterwards.

invest time

If a person puts money into the stock market, it is a form of investing money.  In popular terms, one can also invest time and effort into a project.

Example:  Martin Luther King, Jr. invested his entire life in improving the civil rights of African-Americans.

enrich the lives

If one earns a great deal of money, we say that he or she is rich, or has been enriched by the work or investments.  We can be enriched by things other than money, such as friends, family and good humor.

Example:  Martin Luther King, Jr. enriched the lives of all Americans with his efforts to improve civil rights.

blog - business - UBS_gold_bars_with_mirrorsgold standard

When the United States was founded in 1776, the money that was printed was backed up by an equivalent amount of gold held in the U.S. treasury.  The unit of currency that made the paper money equivalent to gold was called the gold standard.  In popular terms, the gold standard is something or someone that is considered to be the best in a certain field.

Example:  By having a mixture of Democrats and Republicans in his administration, Abraham Lincoln set the gold standard for bipartisan cooperation in government.

coin a term

The United States mints make the coins that we use every day.  Making the metal pieces of money is called coining.  In popular terms, one can also coin a new word, term or phrase that no one has used before.

Example:  Media analysts in the 1990s coined the terms red state and blue state to indicate Republican and Democratic majorities in those states.

Next time:  Metaphors describing Vladimir Putin