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Economic illiteracy 

Brad DeLong is on the warpath about economic illiteracy in journalism. He savages The New York Times’s Steven Erlanger: “In his headline and opening paragraphs, Steven Erlanger managed to tell his readers precisely zero of the seven interesting and important economic implications of the recent rise in the euro against the dollar. Instead he talks about a ‘psychological victory’ felt continent-wide by Europeans. Is it any wonder that the state of economic knowledge and economic debate is so lousy, if this is what newspapers feed us?”

He exempts The Economist from his criticisms in another entry.


Two commentators I read regularly have reached the same conclusion: fall stock markets present a truly serious threat to the world economy. What’s particularly worrying about this is that usually Martin Wolf and Larry Elliott have nothing in common.

In fact, I usually read Elliott to get a good steer on what’s not going to happen. Yesterday he declared we could be facing “the most critical moment for the global economy since the 1930s”. Martin Wolf isn’t quite so dramatic (subscription only). He focuses on the danger that the US recovery could be knocked off course, and “any break in the US recovery would create big dangers for the world as a whole”.

Martin also makes the piquant juxtaposition of two quotes. “The fundamental business of the country, that is production and distribution of commodities, is on a sound and prosperous basis.” “I want you to know the economy, our economy, is fundamentally strong.” The first is Herbert Hoover in 1929. The second president Bush on Monday.

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