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Economic Perception vs. Reality

In my column at American Issues Project this week I look at the way bad reporting on economic issues often results in skewed public perception.

Since most politicians are reluctant to act without public support, what the public perceives directly influences what policies are enacted. If the public is convinced there is a crisis, an emergency requiring immediate action, they will accept drastic measures they would never have accepted otherwise. We saw that earlier this year when the "stimulus" bill was rushed through Congress.

Few in the media have done a good job reporting on economic issues. As a result the public's perception does not always match reality. Not only can inaccurate public perception result in bad policy, but that perception can even influence the state of the economy. Nervousness over the economic future, whether based on real or faulty information, has the same effect. For example, those worried about whether or not they will have a job next month are not likely to go out and buy a new car.

There were many times during the eight years of the Bush administration when economic indicators were good -- at times even better than during the Clinton years. Interest rates, unemployment and inflation were all low. The stock market was high. But for years before the country ever entered recession, the media used the "R" word over and over again.


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Comments (5)

There were many ti... (Below threshold)
Stan25:
There were many times during the eight years of the Bush administration when economic indicators were good -- at times even better than during the Clinton years. Interest rates, unemployment and inflation were all low. The stock market was high. But for years before the country ever entered recession, the media used the "R" word over and over again.

Now the same state run media is reporting things are starting to get rosy, even when all of the numbers tell a different story. This is due the man that is in the White House. It sure is telling what a difference what a D behind a man's makes in how things are reported.

But for years befo... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
But for years before the country ever entered recession, the media used the "R" word over and over again.

In any affluent nation, public confidence, or lack of it, drives the economy to a large degree. In the "news" business during good economic times it's the mass layoff that's news, not the thousands of jobs kept nor the companies who are hiring. In bad economic times it's the companies who are hiring that's news and not so much the unemployed or new layoffs. Combine that negative feedback with a politically biased MSM and you get what some call the business cycle.

If the public is convinced there is a crisis, an emergency requiring immediate action, they will accept drastic measures they would never have accepted otherwise.

This describes Obama's never waste a crisis doctrine. I haven't seen Obama create a crisis out of thin air yet, but he certainly was exacerbating the economic crisis with his negative comments on the economy prior to getting the stimulus bill through congress.

Obama's crisis doctrine combined with a politically biased MSM means will have a global warming crisis soon in spite of cooling global temperatures. We'll also have a healthcare crisis this year, an energy crisis, and a political crisis that will require the United States to official grovel to Islamic extremists.

We should just get a big Submission Accomplished banner and put it up on the White House.

In all fairness to Presiden... (Below threshold)
Paul Hooson:

In all fairness to President Bush, the economy began to slow near the end of the Clinton Administration. Then 9/11 hit in September 2001, creating an over-reaction in the U.S. draining the economy further for several years. Then just as the economy finally begun to grow again into the second term of the Bush Administration, the massive global recession hit. Couple this with the unpopular war in Iraq and some missteps by the Bush Administration on a number of issues, the resulting public reaction was about to be as expected.

the current problem for the Obama Administration is that he now owns all of the current problems with the economy and needs to prove results by the 2010 and 2012 elections, otherwise his party suffers the same fate as the Republicans in 2006 and 2008 did.

Sometimes it seems as being president is a job that's nearly unmanageable. Both Presidents Bush and Obama have my sympathy for doing the best job they could considering all the very difficult problems presented to them.

MacLorry re news about layo... (Below threshold)
Lorie:

MacLorry re news about layoffs...I understand that layoffs are big news, especially in local reporting when a factory shutdown can literally destroy a small town, but it always used to drive me crazy (regardless who was president at the time) that layoffs made big news, but the building of a new plant or openings of dozens of small businesses or additional hirings at existing businesses were not. I remember asking someone who was talking about how many people were being laid off at a particular plant during the Clinton years, "Yeah, but do you know how many new businesses and new jobs were created in the same town over the past year?" Of course they didn't know, and neither did I, because that news is not reported. I understand why -- one fact is easily put into a press release, while the other is something that would have to be compiled from various sources. It still always made me wonder though.

When Jeff was 17, Death pai... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

When Jeff was 17, Death paid him a visit. Appearing in the gloom one night, Death dolefully intoned: "You're gonna die" - and faded away.

Passing it off as too much to drink, Jeff tried to pay it no mind, but gave up drinking. But at age 25 - Death showed up again. "You're gonna die" he repeated - and faded away again.

Jeff was a bit shaken by this - he was sober, so was it real? He scheduled a checkup with his doctor, who found nothing. Jeff started exercising regularly anyway.

At age 45, Death popped in again with Jeff was running a 10K. Jogging alongside, pace for pace, Death said "You're gonna die", and faded away as before.

Jeff got a checkup - again, the doctor found nothing wrong. He reviewed his diet, his exercise schedule, and reconsidered taking an Air France flight from Brazil to France. He also called his insurance agent, doubling his life insurance.

At age 60, Death knocked on the door. ""You're gonna die", intoned Death, and handed him a flyer for a local Chinese buffet before fading out.

Jeff avoided the place like the plague from then on.

At age 75, Jeff saw Death across the street. Determined to have it out once and for all - he started across angrily and was hit by a bus.

When Death plucked him, Jeff asked: "What was with the 'You're gonna die" thing?"

Death replied - "Sooner or later, I was going to be right. It was just a matter of time."




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