I have a question about the usage of the noun "channel" in this scholarly article:

A European economic crisis could affect the U.S. economy through several channels....
The financial sector is the channel that is most likely to transmit harmful effects of a European crisis to the U.S. economy.

I checked this dictionary and I could not find a definition for "channel" that would fit the usage of "channel" in the article. Could the usage be technical jargon?

3 Answers 3


Welcome to the world of figurative and idiomatic language.


See senses 5 and 6.

  1. a course into which something may be directed

  2. a route through which anything passes or progresses

In this case, the things going through the "channels" are the negative effects of the crisis, and the "channels" are how the effects of the crisis can reach the US economy.

  • +1 This is a perfect answer, as most dictionaries do not include this more general meaning: A channel is the way or path through which or along which something goes from here to there. Jan 10, 2016 at 4:45

Channel (noun)

3a. a medium for communication or the passage of information

synonyms: agency, route, avenue, mechanism

You will typically see this definition of channel used in journalism, mostly in Economic, Financial and Political sectors. More often than not it can be roughly interpreted as agency.

This may not be a recent evolution of the usage, but it has definitely become more popular this millennium.


A channel is a body of water through which boats carrying goods pass. In the same way, the term channel can be used to describe a path through which a process happens, ie distribution channels, television channels.

Analysts following retail companies will do channel checks from suppliers and distributors to see the flow of inventory and sales.

The article is saying that the financial sector with it's many interconnections, as a whole, could be the path for contagion of the European crisis to the US.

The channel may be directly through exchange rate intervention (as the Swiss have done), or indirectly through differential interest rates and monetary easing (as the ECB is doing).

However, over the past few days, all eyes are on China which is another channel of concern both economically and with its island building in the channels near Japan and Taiwan (pun intended).

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