Saturday, 23 March 2013

Why is there so much ‘spin’ in economic journalism?

 Since the onset of the financial crisis one could be forgiven for getting slightly confused about what is really going on in the economy. Bank bail-outs, house prices, inflation, quantitative easing and the Eurozone debt crisis; there has certainly been much to report.

The fact that there is no longer strong economic growth focuses the attention of different groups within society. These groups seek different outcomes and their perception of what has caused the economic downturn and what needs to be done to put it right, varies significantly. Many journalists ‘spin’ their stories to represent the views of one these groups within society. This is especially common in news reports about the housing market; there is a cognitive bias in order to support vested interests.

Looking at the economic pages of the BBC website recently I noticed conflicting reports on the same subject. On one page there were two articles about the Japanese economy. One headline read, “Signs of a pick-up in Japan’s economy” and the other said, “Japanese economy worse than forecast.” The predictions for growth in the economy over the last few years have been farcical. The IMF, OBR, CBI and others have all consistently downgraded their predictions. Do they not know what they are doing or is their reporting suffering from some kind of cognitive bias?

The truth is that we need to read many economic articles from different sources, some more trusted than others. Instead of our self-grasping mind attaching itself to an ideology, we can take a clearer and more balanced view by trusting our inner wisdom and integrity.

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