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How about 'Debt-challenged yet extremely picturesque euro states'?

February 6, 2010 | 12:59 pm

Those sensitivity-training courses for investment bankers must be paying off.

British bank Barclays Capital has forbidden staffers from using the popular PIIGS acronym --  referring to Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain -- as shorthand in research reports referring to the fiscal woes of those countries, which this week triggered a global market rout.

“Please alert your teams not to use the acronym PIIGS in any written communication,” Barclays told staffers in a memo, according to the FT Alphaville blog.

Neither are the FT (Financial Times) properties permitted to use the PIIGS acronym, Alphaville says.

Agence France Press reported in 2008 that PIGS (with one “I”) “has been used as an abbreviation for Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain since at least 1999, when they and eight other countries adopted the euro as a common currency.”

Alphaville suggests “Club Med” as an alternative shorthand reference, although that would have to exclude Ireland, of course. (Alternatively,  "Club Med + One" might work.)

Italian bankers, meanwhile, contend that their country doesn't belong in the acronym at all.

And Gregor MacDonald asserts that the U.S. ought to be focusing on its own version of the PIIGS -- seven big states facing cashless coffers. Naturally, California makes the list.

-- Tom Petruno