10 February 2008

US Economy Deathwatch: Economic Nihilism Chic?

Every writer--including journalists--learns how to "shade" the nuance of a story. Two news stories reporting on the exact same phenomenon, can read startlingly differently in terms of nuance and implication. The naive reader of newspapers, and viewer of newscasts, will typically fail to detect the implicit bias of the writer. If the consumer of news were only more aware of the "marketing" nature of news organisations, he would be just as skeptical of the news as he is of advertising.

The world's largest national economy, the US economy, is far from predictable--yet most economic analysts of the world appear to be writing from the deathbed of that economy. In my experience, economic prognostication as filtered through the journalistic and news media, is exceptionally poor and unreliable.

Certainly both widespread optimism and pessimism toward an economy can be self-fulfilling prophecy. Given the news and popular media's dominant function as chief dispersers of economic "memes", or "mind viruses", it is not surprising that the media can--over time--propagate a profound sense of economic malaise. This sense of malaise eventually percolates to the highest levels of economic decision-making, potentially bringing about in economic reality, the malaise which had only been psychological.

I will provide links to two stories, as examples--and exercises, if you wish. The Geography of Recession from the Economist, and America for Sale, from Fortune (via CNNMoney).

Bruce Hall provides the links and more commentary.

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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