T Nation

NYT Economic Reporting


#1

Someone please convince me that this is the same spin that would be put on the economic numbers were a Democrat sitting behind the main desk in the Oval Office:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/30/business/30econ.html?ex=1291006800&en=490207025fe8ae22&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

Excerpt:

[i]For every encouraging sign, there is an explanation. Consumer confidence is bouncing back from what were arguably some of its worst readings in years. Gasoline prices - the national average is now $2.15, according to the Energy Information Administration - have fallen because higher prices held down demand and Gulf Coast supplies have been slowly restored.

The latest reading on home sales, released yesterday, contradicts most recent measures of housing activity, which generally indicate a slowdown. And, yes, manufacturers' fortunes are on the mend, but few besides airplane makers are celebrating.

It all means the economy is likely to end the year with a splash. But before you splurge on a new car, consider this: Many economists do not expect the party to continue, especially if the Federal Reserve continues taking the punchbowl away and raises interest rates. That could further slow the housing market, damp consumer spending and crimp corporate profits.[/i]

To quote Mickey Kaus ( http://www.slate.com/id/2131180/ ),

"It's indeed deeply disturbing to learn that higher gas prices have held down demand, causing those prices to fall back to a level at which demand begins to rise again! It's almost as if some insidious law was at work--as prices rise, demand declines! As supply increases, prices fall! You can't win! [BB NOTE: Just for clarification, this is sarcasm.] ... P.S.: The price drop might be alarming if the decline in demand for gas reflected a general economic downturn. But that doesn't seem to be the case. What the NYT's Vikak Bajaj ominously describes is the market working exactly as it's supposed to, coupled with successful rebuilding efforts on the Gulf Coast. It appears to be "quite that simple."


Basically, the U.S. economy has been holding up the world recently, providing a market for a whole bunch of growing Asian countries, creating jobs, etc. Unemployment is at 5%, which is a great number historically. I think there's probably a housing bubble, but I don't think that presages doom for the economy. Consumer and business spending is strong.

Yet somehow most of the media don't seem too impressed with the economy. I cannot seem to fathom why this is. Maybe they just don't wish to revisit their predictions of the past few years concerning the tax cuts?


#2

They should change their name from the NYT to the DNC newsletter.


#3

im a moderate republican, i voted for bush

im also a ph D candidate in economics (though my specialty is micro, nor macro)

the NYT article is fair in my opinion, you may have a point that if there were a democrat in office the NYT would put a better spin on the situation.

the economy is ok, but government spending is really crazy.


#4

Yeah, a couple of years ago, when all the numbers were poor, it was all about "It's the Economy, STUPID!", but now, every good indicator has to have a coal-black lining, or else it might be construed as good news on a Republican's watch. Heaven Forbid!


#5

Maybe its just my overall cynicism here...but the media will never be impressed with anything unless it's Jen's fab new hair or Brad's hot new look.

Having a positive outlook for your country is not a great way to build a media career. Predict the worst...and if it happens you're amazing...if it doesn't...well then...obviously someone got lucky and the worst will happen next week instead.

I hate the news in my country and in yours. I try to follow it as best I can to stay informed but cutting through the "entertainment" factor that is inherent in todays broadcasts is getting increasingly difficult.

I'm too young to even know if we ever actually had impartial journalism...but if we did...it's dead...and if we didn't...more's the pity on us.

C


#6

Oh, I agree completely that spending is out of control. However, that moves this article into the predictive category, and you always have bullish and bearish prognostications and factors whether the economy is up or down.

My sole point was looking at how this "news" article chose to spin the current numbers.


#7

Yes it would, because positive news does not sell as well as doom and gloom. The media's job went from reporting news to sensationalism many years ago and is not looking to turn back anytime soon. Just look at you local newscasts for example. They put out teasers on the "Top Stories" and build them up throughout day. When they finally get to the story, it gets about 45 sec. of coverage. It's about attention grabbing and ratings, not accurate news reporting. Positive stories just don't grab the attention as well as doomsday prophecies.


#8

I have an interest in macroeconomics. What I've discovered is that the gross national product, consumer price index, rate of inflation, etc. involve sophisticated statistical tools and analytical thinking. Theories were developed to help create concept business models of today. Bob Brinker is my favorite business/ finance person and he's always teaching about the bear market. Economics is not as simple as many surmise. Thus, this article may or may not be a spin IMO.


#9

Of course doom sells more newspapers, but if you're writing an article about positive economic indicators, why not say something about about why they're positive? If this reporter did that, he'd risk having to give at least some credit to Bush. I'm sure he wrote the article this way so he wouldn't have to run that "risk."