(financial) bag carrier

English translation: (financial) assistant, subordinate

GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:(financial) bag carrier
Selected answer:(financial) assistant, subordinate
Entered by: Annamaria Amik

05:11 Sep 25, 2015
English language (monolingual) [PRO]
Bus/Financial - Government / Politics / Investment fund
English term or phrase: (financial) bag carrier
Dear fellow translators,

this term stirred a discussion in the English-Hungarian pair.

The asker isn't too generous with the context, we only know that the term describes the boss's "financial bag carriers" at an investment fund (in a novel).

According to the definition on wordnik.com, a bag carrier is "a relatively unimportant assistant or spokesman of a more important person". I agree with this one.

Two opinions have been expressed in that kudoz question:
1) see wordnik.com definition above - something like an aide-de-camp, or
2) the person who takes the financial risk for other's (or common) decisions - I completely disagree with this one, though.

So what does this term mean?
Annamaria Amik
Local time: 12:43
(financial) assistant, subordinate
Explanation:
I am quite sure you are right, and that the definition you have quoted applies. I can see no basis at all for the alternative suggestion of someone who takes the financial risk for another.

Actually I think this comes not from a novel but from a memoir about working for the notorious Czech-British magnate and fraudster Robert Maxwell. It contains the following sentence:

"Eugene Katz was one of Maxwell's financial-bag carriers who sat nearby".
https://books.google.es/books?id=8kxrBgAAQBAJ&pg=PA45&lpg=PA...

Note the hyphen, as in the question term in the Hungarian question.

It is clear from the context that this person is an assistant of Maxwell's who does financial jobs for him. He is referred to quite disrespectfully in this passage, and just below this there is a reference to "one of Maxwell's top lieutenants". So in this case it seems to be not an unimportant assistant, but still an assistant and someone who just follows orders.

Another use of the same term confirms this. In an article about the super-rich foreign residents of London, there is a reference to native British wealth-managers educated at Eton or Oxford and now working for foreign billionaires:

'"They used to own the wealth. Now they've basically become the fee-earning servants," he says. "The British have found a new vocation and that is being financial bag carriers of the world."'
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/the-super-...

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Note added at 55 mins (2015-09-25 06:06:32 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

"Bag-carrier" is inherently a somewhat demeaning term. The person it's applied to may hold a nominally prestigious post, but the expression emphasises absolute subordination: a flunky, a factotum, someone who runs errands, as it were. The source quoted in the Hungarian question by the answerer who proposed the alternative interpretation, about Gordon Brown and Ed Balls, actually confirms this; calling Balls one of Brown's "bag-carriers" suggests that he was a faithful and unquestioning subordinate carrying out Brown's wishes.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr (2015-09-25 06:16:57 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

No, I'm afraid I have no knowledge of Hungarian, but I was curious and with a little help from Google Translate I got the gist of it. I probably shouldn't say that heated discussions fit the conventional image of Hungarians :)
Selected response from:

Charles Davis
Spain
Local time: 11:43
Grading comment
This was very helpful.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



SUMMARY OF ALL EXPLANATIONS PROVIDED
4 +2(financial) assistant, subordinate
Charles Davis
5main risktaker iin a venture
JANOS SAMU
3 +1Two more possibilities
Terry Richards


  

Answers


37 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +2
(financial) assistant, subordinate


Explanation:
I am quite sure you are right, and that the definition you have quoted applies. I can see no basis at all for the alternative suggestion of someone who takes the financial risk for another.

Actually I think this comes not from a novel but from a memoir about working for the notorious Czech-British magnate and fraudster Robert Maxwell. It contains the following sentence:

"Eugene Katz was one of Maxwell's financial-bag carriers who sat nearby".
https://books.google.es/books?id=8kxrBgAAQBAJ&pg=PA45&lpg=PA...

Note the hyphen, as in the question term in the Hungarian question.

It is clear from the context that this person is an assistant of Maxwell's who does financial jobs for him. He is referred to quite disrespectfully in this passage, and just below this there is a reference to "one of Maxwell's top lieutenants". So in this case it seems to be not an unimportant assistant, but still an assistant and someone who just follows orders.

Another use of the same term confirms this. In an article about the super-rich foreign residents of London, there is a reference to native British wealth-managers educated at Eton or Oxford and now working for foreign billionaires:

'"They used to own the wealth. Now they've basically become the fee-earning servants," he says. "The British have found a new vocation and that is being financial bag carriers of the world."'
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/the-super-...

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 55 mins (2015-09-25 06:06:32 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

"Bag-carrier" is inherently a somewhat demeaning term. The person it's applied to may hold a nominally prestigious post, but the expression emphasises absolute subordination: a flunky, a factotum, someone who runs errands, as it were. The source quoted in the Hungarian question by the answerer who proposed the alternative interpretation, about Gordon Brown and Ed Balls, actually confirms this; calling Balls one of Brown's "bag-carriers" suggests that he was a faithful and unquestioning subordinate carrying out Brown's wishes.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 hr (2015-09-25 06:16:57 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

No, I'm afraid I have no knowledge of Hungarian, but I was curious and with a little help from Google Translate I got the gist of it. I probably shouldn't say that heated discussions fit the conventional image of Hungarians :)

Charles Davis
Spain
Local time: 11:43
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 44
Grading comment
This was very helpful.
Notes to answerer
Asker: Thanks a lot for the valuable and clear comments!

Asker: I really appreciate you took the time to check the EN-HU question even though it's not one of your pairs :) Discussions there are heated and contributions of native English speakers are edifying.


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  B D Finch
2 hrs
  -> Thanks, Barbara :)

agree  Ildiko Santana: I support this approach, and definitely appreciate your input. :)
2 days 19 hrs
  -> Thanks very much, Ildiko :)
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2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
main risktaker iin a venture


Explanation:
The term is ambiguous and it can be applied to a low level subordinate if the context supports it, but it may mean a main risk taker in a new venture. Let's see this example.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/evandavis/2007/04/th...
In the fifth paragraph of this article the text says: "He had been paymaster general at the time, and had helped Gordon Brown and Ed Balls devise a package or corporate tax changes back when they were in opposition." The 38th comment to the article states: "While of interest to the historian or archivist of pension/tax theory, this blog completely overlooks the fact that Brown and his tiny circle of bag carriers (Ball etc) have repeatedly lied about this issue in the last 10 years." It is practically inconceivable that a person or a partnership (like that of Gordon Brown and Ed Balls) capable of devising a tax package for a corporation be a secondary assistant. The meaning of the bag also includes: responsibility, liability, load.

JANOS SAMU
United States
Local time: 23:43
Specializes in field
Notes to answerer
Asker: Thanks.

Asker: I don't see how the BBC article could suggest that financial risks were taken in a business (!) venture. The actual financial risk in any tax package or tax changes is taken by the government, regardless of which MP or group devised it. Brown and Balls did not devise a tax package for a corporation (is that even possible, technically speaking?). I agree with Charles, the comment to this article confirms that bag carrier is a pejorative term for (lower or higher-ranking) officials, probably in an advisory capacity, in someone's circle.


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Charles Davis: I think you are misinterpreting this example, Janos. The reader holds Brown, the Chancellor at the time, responsible for this government policy. Balls, his adviser, merely helped him do it. "Bag carrier" is intended to belittle Balls ("little buddies").
2 hrs
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4 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +1
Two more possibilities


Explanation:
Someone who "carries the bag" takes the blame for something that isn't their fault. This could be the meaning here.

There is also a very specific meaning of a policeman that comes round to various establishments to collect bribe money (generally, "the Captain's bag carrier"). This fits in with the "flunky" definition but it is a very specific type of flunky. I don't think this is the meaning used here but I offer it for your amusement and information! AFAIK, this is only a US usage.

Terry Richards
France
Local time: 11:43
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
Notes to answerer
Asker: Thanks a lot! That's interesting to know. Yes, this second meaning of "bag carrier" was suggested in the EN-HU pair, as well, but, like you said, it's unlikely here.


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Charles Davis: More often "carrying the can" in sense 1, I think; who knows, it could be implicit here. On no. 2, which I didn't know, doing the dirty work for an all-powerful Mafia-type boss kind of fits Maxwell (and some would say Brown too) :)
32 mins
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