Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Economic Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

I would love to know what would happen to the job, credit and stock markets if the government temporarily took control of our free press and banned discussion of these topics. Of course the media would go berzerk talking about the the inability to talk about the economy - but stick with me. If we did not hear about the high unemployment numbers, credit crunch, and stock market dropping I wonder if investors, creditors and employers would start investing, crediting and employing again.

An extreme example of media scare tactics that I shared with a close friend on October 26th, 2008 was a headline on http://www.marketwatch.com/ that read: "Abandon hope. Recession's scope, now global is burying U.S. corporate profits." The image above the headline was a tombstone that was inscribed with "Q3". That is an over-the-top example of how media outlets increase readership with shock value. It is irresponsible, but we "buy" it. If scary news was ineffective on increasing audience attention then here in Los Angeles we would not begin the local nightly news first with the double murders then the single murders then move onto milder events like rapes, car crashes and child abductions - but this regimen is thrown into chaos by the mother of all attention grabbers - the news helicopter police chase video!

My friend responded to my marketwatch article with a New York Times column by Robert Shiller of "Irrational Exuberance" fame that asks "Can Talk Of A Depression Lead To One?"

For the past few months, after the usual blast of critically important tragedy that we must know about the news turns to the economy. I have noticed that KTLA appears to be growing tired of this routine though, which may be good news. The sooner we all get bored with being told how bad things are, the sooner things will get back to normal. The "crisis of confidence" may be a side effect of living in the information age. 24x7 news + the internet = full time shock factor. When I was a kid, if it was raining and the paperboy decided it was too cold to get up, then you were not in front of the TV at 5pm or 11pm, you missed 2 days of news. Now, thanks to ferret cam, you can satisfy all your ferret desires at any time:

What was wrong with daily updates via newspaper again?

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