Tag Archives: New York Times

Naive Extrapolations: GDP Down 3.8 Percent

The Wall Street Journal reports

Third-quarter GDP fell 0.5%. The back-to-back GDP declines were the first since GDP fell 3.0% in the fourth quarter of 1990 and 2.0% in the first quarter of 1991. 

The New York Times reports

In the broadest official accounting of the toll of the credit crisis, the government reported that gross domestic product shrank at an annual rate of 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008. While that was less than economists’ expectations of a 5.5 percent drop, the decline would have been much steeper — more than 5 percent — if shipments of goods had fallen as sharply as orders.

So which is the more meaningful number? The actual decline in third quarter growth or the extrapolated trend predicted for a year? Judging from the past, we should be wary of such extrapolations. And to the extent that this recession represents a problem of confidence, then reporting that the GDP is down 3.8 percent is, in the phrase of the maximum leader, the height of irresponsibility.  I’m comforted that Alan Reynolds agrees

The preliminary GDP estimate for the fourth quarter of 2008 is $11,599.4 billion (in 2000 dollars). That was 0.965% smaller than the third quarter — a figure commonly multiplied by four to convert it into a more dramatic 3.8% annual rate. But these quarterly rates are highly erratic, even in recessions, so converting them into compound annual rates is misleading if not foolhardy.

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Facebook In Cairo

Well, at least they’re trying to keep up. The Times Magazine has a story on how Facebook is being used in Cairo to organize protests. Of course, I liked the story better when it was reported three months ago in Wired.

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The Death of the Ivy League Journalist

Another Christmas present

Seeking to fortify its core assets, New York Times Co. is actively shopping its stake in the holding company of the Boston Red Sox baseball club…

My favorite bit: 

former General Electric CEO Jack Welch took a serious look at the [Boston] Globe two years ago, when people close to them said they were valuing it at $550-600 million at the time. The Times rebuffed the inquiries. The Globe was recently valued by Barclay’s at $20 million.

Boy, did Neutron Jack dodge a bullet.  That’s a $530 million loss in value over two years.  Mommy!!!  The time has come for the old media to awaken from their dogmatic slumber.  New media is bringing the old Gray Bitch to her knees.  Her arteries, filled with generations of mental cholesterol, have clogged.  I eagerly await the day when all of those former Harvard Crimson writers flee like rats from the headquarters on 43rd Street, scurrying away in every direction before the building collapses in bankruptcy, frantically looking for some other institution to shield their beliefs from confronting reality.  Other credential makers, indifferent to truth seeking, will call out to these souls like sirens.  My guess, applications to PhD programs in English and History increase.  We may even hear calls for universities to subsume newspapers into their mission.  They’ll rehash old arguments the Roman citizens would offer in defense of slavery.  A civilized community is not self-sustaining, they’ll claim.  A barbarous substratum, the capitalists, must be whipped into the social structure so as to support the civilized apex embodied by the Times.  And like the Romans, they’ll say this large slave population is required to perform ancillary services, anything which is deemed unworthy for a truly civilized man to engage in–like creating wealth–all to sustain them, the enlightened taste-makers.  There are books to review, damn it.  We’ll hear all sorts of blather about how investigative reporting is a public good, yada yada yada, and how we need public financing to support it.  Remember the Crimson!  They’ll cry.  The rats will rally around the Crimson idea: a newspaper supported by a nanny who can help them pull their punches.  Maybe newspapers should start calling themselves banks? TARP funds may be in their future yet!

But let’s have a sober moment to reflect on the public good that is the NYTimes.  Ah, yes.  The first person they should fire: Thomas Friedman.  I can’t believe they pay this Horatio Hack a salary, a pension and even health benefits.  Worse, they seem to fly the man around world, at great expense, like some kind of cuddly mascot for mild left wing mediocrity.  Yesterday he wrote: 

Landing at Kennedy Airport from Hong Kong was, as I’ve argued before, like going from the Jetsons to the Flintstones.

In September 2007, he wrote: 

Fly from Zurich’s ultramodern airport to La Guardia’s dump. It is like flying from the Jetsons to the Flintstones.

In May 2008, he wrote: 

we landed at Singapore’s ultramodern airport, with free Internet portals and children’s play zones throughout. We felt, as we have before, like we had just flown from the Flintstones to the Jetsons.

In January 2002, he wrote: 

For all the talk about the vaunted Afghan fighters, this was a war between the Jetsons and the Flintstones–and the Jetsons won and the Flintstones know it.

Now that’s some hard hitting investigative reporting.  Novel use of old TV shows to illustrate a concept.  Hat tip to James Taranto.

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