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Job Market

A Conversation in American English



what's going on

lay off


to be short of cash



Jim: My company laid off 250 workers last week only. I am so scared.

Stacy: My goodness! What's going on in our country?

Jim: This year almost 2 million people have been laid off. We are in recession now. People are talking about we may go into depression.

Stacy: I am shocked. Why it has gotten so bad in the U.S. recently?

Jim. Well. We are the richest nation in the world. Our economy is huge and other nations envy us. But, this is a different situation.

Staycy: So what is causing all that economic recession? They are saying the house market is the problem. I don't understand why?

Jim: I wish I could give you a simple answer. But, basically speaking, the problem is with our credit lending institutions. Our credit lending institution have made mortgages to unqualified borrowers?

Stay: What'd you mean by "unqualified borrowers"?

Jim: I mean banks and investment companies lent mortgages to people who could not afford to pay their mortgages back.

Stay. Mortgages are money banks give people who need money to buy a house. Right?

Jim: Right. The mortgages were not insured. Borrowers are in default.

Stacy. Explain. What'd you mean by 'in default'.

Jim: Being in default means this: Borrowers cannot pay their monthly mortgages because they cannot afford it. If they cannot pay their mortgages, financial institutions lose money and become short of cash, and cannot lend money to others who need it. For example, businesses borrow money from financial institutions to cover their expenses or expand their businesses.

Stacy: I know I sound quite dumb, though, but why can borrowers not pay their monthly mortgages?

Jim: Because so many borrowers have lost their jobs in this weak economy.

Stacy: Why borrowers have lost their jobs?

Jim: Because companies are short of cash to run their businesses. They cannot borrow from banks or financial institutions. Financial institutions have used up their cash in lending mortgages in huge amounts.

Stacy. Oh. You mean financial institutions cannot help businesses in need of cash. And business cannot survive without enough cash to maintain their daily operations.

Jim: Also businesses need cash to expand their businesses. If they don't expand and cannot maintain their business on day-to-day, they lose.

Stacy. I see now why businesses are losing. Because they lose due to short-cash, they lay off their workers. And your company is in the same position. Right?

Jim: Yap. Exactly so.


what's going on: What is happening? If you say "What's going on?", that means means you have no idea what is happening and want to know what's happening.

lay off: let workers go due to lack of work or financial crises

short-cash: not enough money.

to be short of cash: Not having cash. Example: I am short of cash I cannot go out for dinner tonight. This sentence means this: I don't have enough money to go out for dinner tonight.


to be scared: informal. To be afraid of

recession: to be inactive; to slow down in this conversation

depression: to experience serious economic losses, job losses, business and factory closings, sales drops in an economy

lent: past participle of lend: opposite of borrow. to give money to other people either for an interest plus the amount borrowed, or just the amount to be paid back

maintain: to keep, manage, operate

day-to-day: every day










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