FT'S LEX COLUMN
THE LEX COLUMN: Evasive bosses no longer have the last word
Language analysis start-up trawls through transcripts of earnings calls to show how prone executives are to stonewalling
Equivocation is the art of concealing the truth with ambiguities. If the CEO is working on an “exciting initiative”, employees will fear the worst. If a finance director congratulates an analyst on a “fair question”, the scribbler knows no clear answer will be forthcoming.
Evasive language is becoming a problem for investors who crunch big data sets in search of buy and sell signals. In the past, they focused on numbers. Linguistic analysis is the cool new frontier. Processing wodges of text could be a way of quantifying sentiment and predicting where stock prices are headed.