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August 19, 2004

American Economic Growth vs. Europe; Anti-Bush Bias in The Economist Magazine

From The Economist's issue of about August 14 comes a depressing view of the U.S. economy that is contradicted by the bare statistics reported at the end of the issue:
Losing its way

Washington D.C. The vigour of America's expansion is once again in doubt

Is America's economy in trouble? With oil prices hitting new highs of over $45 a barrel this week, and with the latest figures showing a measly 32,000 new jobs created in July, the question is fraying nerves on Wall Street and in the White House. ... The article goes on to do lots of back-and-forthing. It notes that GDP growth has been high, but also that it was even higher earlier in the year; that central bankers all seem happy about America's economy; that the payroll employment statistics show a very different picture from the household survey employment statistics that they initially cite. But it also cites what bad news it can find, and the general tone is that America's economy is trouble, in line with the title and introductory paragraph.

The key to the article is perhaps in this sentence:

"Mr. Bush is keenly aware that, in 1992, perceptions of stagnant growth helped doom his father in the election, though the economy had in fact begun to rebound."

Once again, if the press can't defeat a Republican president by true new of slow economic growth, it can try to defeat him with false news.

Consider the following statistics from same issue of The Economist, from the tables that regularly appear at the end:

Economic Indicators
COUNTRY .... GDP (year) GDP (quarter) Economist Forecast (2004) Economist Forecast (2005) Unemployment Unemployment (year ago)
USA .... +4.8 +3.0 (Q2) +4.5 +3.5 5.5 6.2
Euro Area .... +1.3 +2.3 (Q1) +1.3 +2.0 9.0 8.9
Japan .... +5.6 +6.1 (Q1) +4.5 +2.3 4.6 5.3

As these figures show, the U.S. economy is doing far better than Western Europe, with GDP growth in the past year of 4.5% compared to 1.3% and unemployment of 5.5% compared to 9.0%, and The Economist's own forecasts show that The Economist expects U.S. growth to continue to be not just faster, but more than twice as fast. Japan is doing well too, so I've included it in the table, but The Economist's forecast of 8.0% for US growth in 2004 and 2005 is higher than not just its forecast for Japan, but for 10 European countries, Canada, and Australia (countries also in the table from which I extracted the numbers above). Thus, again we find anti-Bush spin contradicted by pro-Bush facts in The Economist. I'm afraid The Economist will have to start a moratorium on printing numbers if they want people not to laugh when they read the words in the news stories.

Posted by erasmuse at August 19, 2004 11:39 PM

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