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“Shoddy, Shoddy, Shoddy”

“Shoddy, shoddy, shoddy” is how Duke University economist Bruce Caldwell, in an e-mail to me this morning, describes Patricia Cohen’s ‘report’ in yesterday’s New York Times about the global economy. I share here Bruce’s e-mail with his kind permission:

Hi Don,

Did you see the Sunday NYT?

The article online carries a much more neutral title. The one it carried in the paper, and the article was the far right hand side article on the front page, traditionally the most important article (or so I was taught in print class in 8th grade), was “Failures of Globalization Shatter Long-Held Beliefs: War and Pandemic Highlight Shortcomings of the Free Market Consensus.”

This title appalled but sadly did not really surprise me.

The examples cited as evidence for the thesis early in the article are the pandemic, the war in Russia, tensions with China, and inflation.

Of course none of these have anything to do with free markets! We had pandemics before; what really set the world economy back (especially the poorest people) was the near universal identical response of governments mandating lockdowns. Governments (Russia, China, the USA) make war or interfere with trade. And inflation is as we know due to the massive amounts of borrowing by govts, financed by printing money, made necessary by policies like lockdowns.

So from my perspective, the title should have been: “Resurgence of Mercantilism Shatters the Massive Benefits that Decades of Globalization Produced.”

It also irked me that this article was not billed as “Analysis” but as a news story.

And that the only economist cited was from U Mass Amherst, which is known among Econ departments as notoriously left-wing!

Shoddy, shoddy, shoddy.

Thank you for letting me vent.


DBx: I wrote back to Bruce saying that I did indeed read that NYT ‘report’ but, uncharacteristically for me, I was left so dismayed and depressed about the low quality of ‘journalism’ that I simply couldn’t muster the resolve to deal with it seriously. Fortunately – as I also told Bruce – John Cochrane and David Henderson are more resolute than I am.