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The Jehoshua Novels


Panglossian Reporting of Economic Numbers

So the Washington Post reports:

Consumers battered by a multitude of economic woes came roaring back in November, pushing retail sales up by the largest amount in four months.

Sounds good, eh? Here are the numbers – retail sales increased 1%. Last month they contracted .1%. Last year in November? Up 5.6%

Yes, compared with the last few months 1% is good. Compared to good results, they suck.

In neither case is “roaring back” even close to accurate. I notice this sort of thing constantly, and rarely write on it – this sort of economic boosterism is far more common than anything balanced or even just factual. I’m not sure what causes it. Why does the media almost always spin economic news as positive, even when it clearly isn’t, or is at best neutral?

2 comments to Panglossian Reporting of Economic Numbers

  • chicago dyke

    a “change” of 1% is a difference of no consequence. it’s pathetic our press would even try to present this data as noteworthy, but i expect nothing less from the wapo.

  • Pachacutec

    And how much of that 1% boom is driven by high end luxury sales? Who’s doing the buying?

    Nice catch, Ian.

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