Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Missing in action: Credible economics commentators

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-03-10

I’ve kept an eye out, but there have been no shame-shame-shame articles listing the economics and/or financial advisors and journalists who so badly got it wrong (through incompetence and/or malice), kept the mugs buying when the fundamentals didn’t support it, and led to massive losses by people who cannot afford it – if only through superannuation losses.

Do any readers care to nominate the worst offenders?

Let me think about those who deserve to be put up against the wall…

  • Every journalist who was saying through 2007 how wonderful our economy was wonderful
  • Every financial advisor who cannot produce generic "warning" notices to clients about the inevitable downturn
  • Every general-audience TV show who puts on an "expert" that has a vested interest in people buying unless an explicit caveat is given.
  • All the politicians who encouraged buyers into bubble markets – and that includes both Liberal and Labor parties.

Honorable exceptions to this list would include Australians Peter Martin of the Canberra Times and Kenneth Davidson of Melbourne’s The Age, along with The Economist which has been flashing red lights and saying "Danger, Will Robinson" repeatedly for the last year or so, and particularly about the CDOs, CFDs and other wacky derivatives that have contributed in large part to current turmoil.

Even The Australian Financial Review has been muted in it’s warnings, and this may have something to do with the advertisers it attracts: who’d advertise something next to an article that undercuts the premises of the advertisement?

So, which journal or TV show will have the guts to do a name and shame?  It couldn’t be Media Watch because that would fill up it’s allocated time for the entire year even if they just read the names!

Until such a list is published (ideally with counts of upbeat versus downbeat articles and notices from June to October 2007), almost the entire class of economics and financial journals and advisory businesses should lose their credibility, and considered as merely spruikers.

Will the public learn from this?  Is the public baying for blood?  Unfortunately, the gullible majority appear to lack not only foresight, but hindsight!


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