Jul
09
2009

When Corporate Media Report on Corporate Medicine

Writing at his regular Beat the Press blog (7/8/09), economist Dean Baker says that the New York Times' David Leonhardt "rightly complains that President Obama's healthcare plan does nothing to change the incentives for doctors to prescribe expensive forms of care, even when there is no evidence that this care will lead to better outcomes." But "Leonhardt fails to take the extra step and ask why this care is expensive": In most cases, the care is more expensive because it involves expensive medical equipment and drugs, with a healthy dash of high doctors' fees as well. The reason that medical […]

Jul
02
2009

Climate Bill Damned but Military Budget Untouchable

Reacting to media noise over the economic costs of the Waxman-Markey environmental bill currently before the U.S. Congress, Dean Baker (ZNet, 7/1/09) looks to the damages of a different annual spending bill, this one perpetually unexamined in corporate news: Global Insight projected that after 20 years of higher defense spending, annual car sales would be down by more than 700,000. Housing starts would be almost 40,000 lower. Exports would be 1.8 percent lower and imports would be 2.7 percent higher, leading to a trade deficit that was almost $200 billion larger. The model also projected that there would be nearly […]

Jun
29
2009

Climate Change Secondary to 'Free' Trade at NYT

Tying the urgent present-day topic of economic reporting in with the most pressing global emergency of climate change, Dean Baker has posted at his Beat the Press blog (6/29/09) on "What Does 'Free Trade' Have to Do With Taxing Greenhouse Gas Emissions?": That is the question that the New York Times should have been asking in an article that reported President Obama's opposition to taxing imported items from countries that have not taken steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The point of his cap-and-trade program is to make items that require large amounts of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions more expensive, […]

Jun
24
2009

'Ardently Protectionist' WaPo Ignores Entire World

Economist Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 6/20/09) has requested you try to "imagine a front-page Washington Post article that talked about how the United States had a shortage of small cars." He reasonable assumes such a piece would address "the limited capacity of the various small-car assembly plants" and "discuss the amount of lead time needed to build new plants. It would also talk about the need to raise small-car prices because it is so much more profitable to build big cars": Imagine that the article never once mentioned the possibility of importing small cars. That's the front-page Washington Post […]

Jun
17
2009

WaPo's Front-Page News Deficit

Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 6/14/09) has caught "Fox on 15th (a.k.a. 'The Washington Post')" once again "departing from normal news practice" with "another editorial complaining about President Obama's deficits on the front page." The piece's subhead–"Concern Mounts in White House as 2010 Elections Loom"–prompts some hard questions from Baker: "Who is concerned? The story doesn't tell us. Who says that they are concerned? The story doesn't tell us." His conclusion–"In short, it's not clear that there is any news here": But the Washington Post wants to highlight the budget deficit, so it won't let such details stand in the […]

Jun
03
2009

Wall St. Cheerleaders 'Abandon Economic Reporting'

Looking at last week's "whole series of bad reports on the state of the economy," Dean Baker of Beat the Press and the Center for Economic and Policy Research tells readers of London's Guardian (6/1/09) if they think "these reports might have led to gloomy news stories," such assessments are to be found "not in the U.S. media": "The folks who could not see an $8 trillion housing bubble are still determined to find the silver lining in even the worst economic news": For example, National Public Radio told listeners that the new home sales figure reported for April was […]

Jun
01
2009

D.C.'s 'Fox on 15th Street' Still Hates Unions

Spotting a May 31 Washington Post column "that blamed the United Auto Workers for the bankruptcy of Chrysler and GM," Dean Baker declares (Beat the Press, 5/31/09) that the D.C. daily "showed yet again why it is known as "Fox on 15th Street": So what if Toyota has managed to profitably run a plant in California represented by the UAW for more than two decades? So what if wages of unionized autoworkers in profitable car companies in Europe and Japan are the same or higher than in the United States? So what if the proximate cause of the bankruptcy was […]

May
28
2009

NYT's Bad Stats Push for European Layoffs

Blogging (Beat the Press, 5/26/09) about how the "New York Times Cooks the Books on Europe's Auto Industry," economist Dean Baker catches the paper "touting the layoffs in the U.S. auto industry as a virtue"–since "it notes that auto industry employment in Europe is remaining steady at around 2.3 million, while it is falling to close to 700,000 in the U.S.": The article and accompanying chart imply that Europe is delaying an inevitable adjustment. The case is far from clear, in spite of the NYT's best effort to make the case. The chart shows that Europe produces about 18 million […]

May
13
2009

Social Security Scaremongering, Washington Post Style

Yesterday the Social Security and Medicare trustees' reports were released. This annual ritual oftengives reporters a chance to exaggerate the long-term problems of the Social Security system. This year, the news wasmoreor lesswhat folks were expecting: By the trustees' forecasting, Social Security's trust fund will be depleted in 2037, while Medicare's hospital fund will run out of money in 2017. Somehow, the Washington Post decided that Social Security was the real concern–its page-one story is headlined "Alarm Sounded on Social Security." The lead rings the same bells: The financial health of the Social Security system has eroded more sharply in […]

May
09
2009

Employee Free Choice for 'Very Slow Reporters'

Asking "Can We Get Reporters to Stop Saying That EFCA Takes Away the Secret Ballot?" Dean Baker bluntly states (Beat the Press, 5/7/09) that "it's not true." Even though this is one of the "most often repeated lines of the opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act"–"that it will deny workers the right to vote decide on a union with a secret-ballot election"–Baker explains exactly how "that is wrong, wrong and wrong": First of all, workers do not currently enjoy that right. Maybe that should be repeated a few times in case there are any very slow reporters reading: Workers […]

May
04
2009

NYT Economics Reporting Still Failing Along

While asserting the extremely simple journalistic principle that "Past Records Should Matter In Assessing Views on the Economy," Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 5/2/09) is willing to admit that everyone makes mistakes, but the odds are that anyone who couldn't see an $8 trillion housing bubble is not a really good person to rely upon for predictions on the economy. Joe Nocera gives a quick survey of some radically conflicting forecasts in his [New York Times] column today. It's worth noting that all the optimists completely the missed the bubble and the impact that its collapse would have on the […]

Apr
22
2009

Empty Economic Rhetoric at the NYT

Asking a simple question about a large issue–"How Do Trillion Dollar Bank Bailouts Fit With 'Free-Market Fundamentalism?'"–Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 4/19/09) tells his readers that "the obvious answer is, they don't"–since, "if you are a free-market fundamentalist, then you are absolutely opposed to bank bailouts" that "involve taking taxpayer dollars and handing them to banks that would go belly up if left to the market": However simple this distinction might seem, it somehow escaped the NYT, which discussed the policies promoted in recent decades as though they could be plausibly described as "free-market fundamentalism." It should be perfectly apparent […]

Mar
30
2009

Options to the Latest 'Absolutely Essential' Bank Plan

Looking back over how corporate "media abandoned any pretense of objectivity in pushing the original TARP back in the fall," when "they eagerly pushed the story that the economy would collapse if the TARP did not pass," Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 3/28/09) recalls how "media never told the public that the Fed had the ability to takeover the banks in the event of a national emergency and it had plans to do exactly this back in the early '80s debt crisis." Which makes it somewhat unsurprising that "the new line that being pushed to argue that there is no […]