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  1. #1
    thedaffodils's Avatar
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    Lightbulb liabilities vs. debt

    Yamato Life Insurance on Friday filed for bankruptcy with Y269.5bn ($2.7bn) in liabilities. It becomes the first direct casualty of the global financial crisis in Japan’s financial sector.
    Hi! Can I replace liabilities with debts in this context? What is the difference between them?

    Cambridge Dictionary defines liabilities as debts.
    http://dictionary.cambridge.org/defi...5796&dict=CALD

    I think liabilities is a legal term while debt is a plain word. Am I right? Thanks!

  2. #2
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: liabilities vs. debt

    Quote Originally Posted by thedaffodils View Post
    Hi! Can I replace liabilities with debts in this context? What is the difference between them?

    Cambridge Dictionary defines liabilities as debts.
    Cambridge Dictionaries Online - Cambridge University Press

    I think liabilities is a legal term while debt is a plain word. Am I right? Thanks!
    Yes, you could.
    In Accountancy, students learn about assets and liabilities. Liability is a more common word than debt in that environment. But lay people and homeowners normally talk about debt. Basically they mean the same thing.
    In any case, Yamato Life Insurance owes Y269.5bn ($2.7bn) that it cannot pay.
    But there are other definitions and types of liability, and debt.
    Maybe an accountant could clarify those specialised uses.

  3. #3
    thedaffodils's Avatar
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    Smile Re: liabilities vs. debt

    Thank you for your help, Raymott.

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    Default Re: liabilities vs. debt

    Raymott:Yes, you could.

    No, you can't. It is an insurance company. It knows that of the insurance policies it underwrites, a certain proportion will make claims, for which it is liable. These claims will come tomorrow, next week, later in the year, and the insurance company is liable.
    A debt/debts are the actual amounts that the company owns now, not what it will be liable for.

    If you substituted 'debt', then you would mean the actual amount of money owed right now. As the sentence stands, it means the company is liable for any current debt, and amounts due on future claims which it must have the money to cover.

    A person is liable to incur a fine/term of imprisonment if he commits a certain crime.
    Once he commits a crime, then he must 'pay his debt to society.'
    Last edited by David L.; 12-Oct-2008 at 15:08.

  5. #5
    thedaffodils's Avatar
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    Default Re: liabilities vs. debt

    Hi David L.,

    Thank you for your answer.

    Can I understand liabilities as below?

    For instance, an insurance company has the liabilities of $ 300 to its three clients. If no any claims from the insurants, the company needn't to pay anything for its client. In other words, liablities are just potential debts and responsibilities.

  6. #6
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: liabilities vs. debt

    Quote Originally Posted by thedaffodils View Post
    ... In other words, liablities are just potential debts and responsibilities.
    Well put . That's my understanding of it, with respect to Br E. Of course, in other parts of the world the words might be more nearly synonymous.

    b

    PS Incidentally, the rule of thumb: 'liability - formal/debt - informal' doesn't apply in the metaphorical usage of 'liability'; a football coach might well say 'That goalie is a liability' meaning 'he will 'cost' us lost matches in future'.
    Last edited by BobK; 12-Oct-2008 at 17:19. Reason: PS Added

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    thedaffodils's Avatar
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    Post Re: liabilities vs. debt

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Well put . That's my understanding of it, with respect to Br E.

    PS Incidentally, the rule of thumb: 'liability - formal/debt - informal' doesn't apply in the metaphorical usage of 'liability'; a football coach might well say 'That goalie is a liability' meaning 'he will 'cost' us lost matches in future'.
    Of course, in other parts of the world the words might be more nearly synonymous.
    BobK,

    I've learned two things for you from the the quotations as above respectively.

    THANK YOU ALL!

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