4

Consider:

“It was a risk-off shift in the last three days,” Benno Galliker, a trader at Luzerner Kantonalbank AG in Lucerne, Switzerland, said. “It’s probably more a lowering of some positions into the summer. The Fed minutes could be very important. There are some rumors about some hawkish comments.”
....
British insurers led a gauge of European insurance companies lower after a report showed U.K. prices for new-car insurance fell for a record 10th quarter.

-- Source Europe Stocks Little Changed Before Fed as Espirito Santo Falls

I cannot fully grasp the meaning of the first bolded sentence.

Since lowering is a gerund here, why is it that "It’s probably more a lowering of some [financial] positions into the summer",

not "It’s probably more of a lowering of some positions into the summer",

or "It’s probably a more lowering of some positions into the summer",

or "It’s probably more than a lowering of some positions into the summer"?

Besides, does gauge metaphorically refer to a certain index for the European insurance industry here? Is lower here an adjective, acting as an object complement?

1

Since lowering is a gerund here, why is it that "It’s probably more a lowering of some [financial] positions into the summer", not "It’s probably more of a lowering of some positions into the summer" or "It’s probably a more lowering of some positions into the summer" or "It’s probably more than a lowering of some positions into the summer"?

All four of these constructions have distinct meanings.

  • a more lowering of - this is ungrammatical. It means that the positions had already been lowered previously and have now been lowered again. The correct phrase replaces more with further.
  • more than a lowering - this means that what happened was something bigger, more important, or more significant than a (mere) lowering. It's very likely, though not guaranteed, that lowering was part of what happened, but it definitely wasn't all of it.
  • more of a lowering - this is used to state that the previous description was incorrect, and the item at hand is more like a lowering than whatever was said before. The two things are on a continuum, and the action should be placed closer to lowering.
  • more a lowering - this is very close to more of a lowering, but there's much less equivocation. It's appropriate to call it a lowering, and not whatever was said before. The hedging from more is usually done for the sake of politeness; saying "well, I think it's really this" as opposed to outright stating that something is wrong.

You can parse Galliker's remarks this way:

"Some people have said the reasons for this are [something]. I'm not going to say that they're wrong, but I think the real cause is shifting off risk by reducing positions."

He's expressing it politely, but the bulk of his message is that he significantly disagrees with whatever the other analysts said.

As for the second one, does gauge metaphorically refer to a certain index for the European insurance industry here? Is lower here an adjective, acting as an object complement?

There's no metaphor here. Gauge is used as in Collins definition 7: an assessment, test, or measurement. In this specific case the article is financially technical, so you can read gauge as rating, outlook, assessment or guidance. Gauge is definitely not an index or set of companies; it's referring to a single prediction about the collective performance of a specific industrial sector. It's not clear from the excerpt who issued the assessment, but presumably it's more or less common knowledge to those who find it relevant.

Lower is acting as an adverb modifying led. The use of led tells us that British insurers saw the greatest reduction of expectations, but most if not all European insurers and the sector as a whole had their predicted profits/revenues/etc lowered. Led is used in the sense of leading a group; in this case, the group is European insurers and they are being led towards worse performance.

You can read it like this:

British insurers had the largest reduction in predictions of financial performance among European insurance companies, who all saw some lowering of expectations, after a report showed U.K. prices for new-car insurance fell for a record 10th quarter.

  • Good answer. But I doubt lower can act as an adverb. At least, the dictionaries don't count it as one. I think the sentence pattern is similar to "He painted the wall blue", in which case blue grammatically funtions in the same way as lower. – Kinzle B Jul 10 '14 at 3:24
  • 1
    In general English, it's not. But in finance jargon, lower can be used this way, often with guide. E.g.: 1 2 3 4. The company guided lower is standard and complete. – Esoteric Screen Name Jul 10 '14 at 4:04
  • +1! Thx. So what does "guide" and "lead" mean in the field of finance? – Kinzle B Jul 10 '14 at 5:17
  • 1
    Guide means to issue guidance; i.e. make a statement about expected performance during the upcoming or current period (usually quarter or year). Most commonly this is used when senior management of companies supply guidance for their own firms, but also sometimes it's for independent analyst predictions. Here, led is not jargon; it's the usual sense of leading a group. British insurers led the lowering of European insurers; thus British companies had their guidance lowered by the greatest margin. Sorry, I read the passage wrong initially (it's British insurers, not British analysts). – Esoteric Screen Name Jul 10 '14 at 6:20
  • 1
    In there means reported, received or published; the results aren't in is a common phrase meaning the outcome is still in question. Try thinking of led in this case as meaning pulling everyone in a certain direction (like a tour guide) rather than being first in the rankings. The former is naturally neutral. – Esoteric Screen Name Jul 11 '14 at 0:44
1

Of your two questions I can only answer the first.

The first two versions "more a lowering" and "more of a lowering" have the same meaning. They both have the feeling of "more like a ______" and can be read that way.

The third version: "a more lowering" does not make sense.

The final version: "more than a lowering" changes the meaning. The phrase "more than" means that the action taken is greater than the action usually associated with a lowering, instead of the original meaning that the action taken was close to the strength of a lowering than any other comparison.

comparison of "more than" vs. "more of"

-1

1) Either is acceptable:

  • It's more a burgandy than a red.
  • It's more of a burgandy than a red.

So,

  • It’s probably more a lowering of some positions into the summer.
  • The risk-off shift is probably more of a lowering of some positions into the summer (than anything else).
  • The risk-off shift is most likely due to some firms lowering some positions due to the summer (for some "summer" reason... perhaps lowering some cyclic positions that are more risky in the summer?)

Note that this can also be interpreted/translated as:

  • Blah blah blah-blah blah, blah-blah blah blah blah.
    (Who cares what some analyst "thinks" about why some move occurred over three days... nobody really knows!)

2) Upon review of some examples, I think "a gauge of companies" is "a set of companies that represents something". As such, it can be as generic or specific as a writer wishes.

So "led a gauge of insurance companies" (I think...not 100% sure) means the author is thinking of some set of companies, like an index, and perhaps is an index, but the author doesn't think it's important enough (for any of a number of reasons, including space constraints) to provide more specifics.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.