[JITF2020] The New Coronavirus Crisis and Financial Translation

Tatsuya Suzuki

Financial Translator.  After graduating from university, worked for Nomura Securities, etc., and became independent in 2002.  Currently, mainly deals with English to Japanese translations of macroeconomic and financial reports.  His translated works include: “Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness” (Eiji Press), “Big Mistakes: The Best Investors and Their Worst Investments” (Nikkei BP), “The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World” (Toyokan Publishing), “Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business” (Shoeisha), etc.  He has authored: “Kin-yu Eigo no Kiso to Oyo – Suguni Yakudatsu Hyogen – Bunrei (Financial English Basics and their Application – Immediately Useful Expressions and Phrases)” (Kodansha). Currently, serializing “Charlie’s Financial English” on JACI website. –

The New Coronavirus Crisis and Financial Translation

The new coronavirus pandemic “COVID-19” is raging.  It has been about half a year since the Beijing municipal government announced that “there are 27 patients with pneumonia of unknown cause” (Asahi Shimbun, July 4, 2020).  The number of infected people in the world has exceeded 10 million, the number of deaths has exceeded 500,000, and there is no sign of improvement.  It seems that the authorities and experts’ meetings as well as the media have begun to discuss how to deal with a second wave of infection. 

On the other hand, how did the financial markets, especially the US and other stock markets, do?  Looking at the trend of the NASDAQ Composite Index, which is an index of stocks of high-tech companies like GAFAM (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft) or FAANG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google), we see there have been intermittent crashes after hitting a record high (9838.37 points) in February.  Many of you may remember newspaper headlines such as “worst rate of decline since the global financial crisis” on a daily or weekly basis or “worst rate of decline in 10 years.”  The rate of decline in the one month ending on March 23rd turned out to be 33%.  The NASDAQ index reversed after dropping to 6631.42, and this time it entered an upward trend, breaking its previous record at the beginning of June.  After that, it continued to rise, closing at a record high on July 2nd (10,207.63). 

We are still in the midst of the “coronavirus crisis” (apparently described as the COVID-19 crisis in Western media),” so when we look back on the present period ten years from now, we may know that the “worst period” was still ahead of us.  There is no guarantee that it will not be “the beginning of the end,” but looking at the current market, it seems that “somehow” the worst has passed, and I would like to think so.  At least the economic indicators suggest that, and the market is so bullish it could be said to be “leaning forward.” 

Looking back on my business diary now, I realize that requests (morning phone calls) for translation of market reports came in almost every day from late February to the end of March, when the stock prices were declining and bottoming out.  The outlook on the market was changing rapidly every day.  In that sense, I was also in the middle of the “worst period (I hope).”  So, in this session, I decided to look back on the period of February through June of this year, focusing on COVID-19 and market movements, strictly from the perspective of a translator.  When Mr. Sekine asked me to talk at [JITF2020], I thought that I would like to share what I have learned so far as one of the parties living through the coronavirus crisis.  Since I am not an “expert” in economics and finance, I have been rereading the content that was reported, the reports that have been published, etc., and will put the presentation together in the form of background explanations to the English expressions found and how I translated them. 

I am looking forward to your participation.