Friday, May 29, 2009

552 Analysts and Economists

552 Analysts and Economists  (for those who can count, and exclude myself, there are two posts marked 549.  This corrects the numbering sequence.)

You have to wonder how some of these guys keep their jobs, especially in today's economy.

You ever read a news item about analysts and economists where they got something right?  The closest you come today is that something met analysts' expectations.  That's a vote of confidence, but not by a filibuster-proof majority.

So on they go, year in and year out making idiotic predictions that don't come true.  It's a good thing they're not William Tell.  It's a good thing they aren't responsible for the manufacture of aircraft or body armor.  It's a good thing they don't fill out your tax forms.

But how is it that they manage to get that paycheck every week?  Do they all know where the skeletons are buried?  Or is it just that we don't really care what they say?

From the reader/listener/viewer side of the aisle, these guys are selling expertise they don't have.  Of course, today, selling something you don't have (oil, housing, milk and so on) is standard practice and conventional wisdom.  

Even more exceptional and astonishing is that we in the news business dutifully survey these guys about everything from housing prices to consumer confidence to when the recession will end.  We should have learned years ago to leave these people out of the stories.  They have no credibility and when we quote them, neither do we.  Maybe we're surveying the wrong guys?

Recently one group of economists surveyed by someone were said to believe the current recession would end by the end of this year's fourth quarter or next year's first quarter at the latest.  These were the same folk who (a) didn't really know the recession had started, (b) had no clue about its length or depth and who kept predicting and end by the middle of THIS year.  Well, it's the middle of this year and you know better than they do that it hasn't ended.  (They have jobs.  Maybe you do, maybe you don't.)

While this bunch of economists was predicting recessional end times, another group, those who look at housing and make forecasts were saying exactly the opposite.

Some are right some of the time.  A few are right almost all the time.  Most are wrong most of the time and some are never right.

Maybe they're too big to fail.

Or maybe we just have to fill screens, column inches and air time, so we just round up the usual suspects every few days.

--Anyone else notice this?  Newt Gingrich wants to bomb North Korea.  And this guy still wants to be President?

--Recent headline:  "Print readers aging rapidly."  Yes, true.  Reading a newspaper makes you two years older for every year you live.

--More-on the media:  We have the greatest drinking problem of any profession.   You would too, if all your listeners viewers and readers had that double-aging thing going on and your business was in its death throes. 

I'm Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009

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