Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Escape and Invasion: recession

Escape and Evasion: How the Media pretends a recession doesn't exist

Escape and evasion is not a race but a process; one that requires skill, patience and cunning to achieve your objective.

Openly question if we are in recession by hosting scores of experts to discuss the issue.

On-air dialogue should continually frame the possibility of recession as an open ended future event, posing questions such as:

"could we be headed towards a recession?"

"do you foresee a recession?"

"is a recession on the horizon?"

"some are saying we may already be in a recession, do you believe there's any merit to these assessments?"

Allow experts answer these questions, and if they are known bears, have a counter-point man on hand on to induce a World Wrestling Federation style tit-for-tat debate such as CNBC's treatment of Peter Schiff.

Apply the mass-media theory of relativity: bad news is good news from a different angle.

Provide doom and gloom estimates for jobs and earnings prior to their announcements.
When the losses aren't as bad as predicted, watch for market rallies say:

"stocks rallied today with job losses coming in better than analyst expectations"

Cite strong employment data to support that the economy hasn't fallen into recession.

People relate to unemployment figures more closely than any other measure of economic indicator. Low unemployment makes people feel optimistic and despite years of adjustment and delayed upward revisions, unemployment stats feature prominently in the financial media.

When employment data turns negative claim that the new paradigm of the economy shouldn't rely on outmoded stats that don't reflect reality.

When job losses begin to rise, focus on the details of employment data, how losses were concentrated in areas like manufacturing that have been on the decline for decades, and trumpet job gains in the "service" sector that America is increasingly turning to for job -growth.

Use any sudden weekly drop in commodity stocks, (especially gold) to suggest the commodity run is over.

When financial stocks fall by as much, claim its time to buy when there's blood in the streets.

A 2 day rally in the US dollar is enough to make broad-based macro economic statements:

"investor confidence rose this week on the back of recent US dollar strength as investors believe the worst of the crisis is over"

Build false hype around important "low" points in the market.

Should indices break below those lows, cite the stocks that are still strong and claim:

"it’s a stock picker's market"

After the first bounce off a major low, claim the bottom is in.

Host multiple experts to add to the speculation. Ensure their comments are tempered and non-committal by use of platitudes:

"we believe the market may have made a short term bottom here, but we will need to evaluate the situation going forward."

Disseminate rumors that Warren Buffett is interested in a particular sector

the formula is tried and true: rumored sector+ old stock footage of Buffett leaving a press conference at an unspecified date, surrounded by reporters. It gives the impression Buffet has just recently met with officials of said sector to hammer out billion dollar deals.

Begin your news missive with coy rhetorical questions:

"is the oracle of Omaha in bargain hunting in the transportation sector?"

Lend false credibility to the spectacle by having commentators evaluate these proposed purchases by Buffett:

"we've heard that Warren Buffett may be looking at railroads, what do you think is going on in his head right now?"

Use verbal smoke screens that are in reality utter lies:

"the markets have already priced in the write downs"
(The same write downs that were many times more than initial predictions.)

"markets are forward looking"
(More platitude than lie, it assures people that any past crisis was a rear-view mirror event)

"markets have over-reacted to the credit problems, good companies went down with bad ones"
(Who ever said that bad companies went up with good ones when financial stocks doubled over 3 short years?)

Subscribe to the notion that a recession is more of a belief than an economically verifiable fact.

By the time a recession is self-evident, speak of "moving forward" and of shapes like "U", "L" or "V" to illustrate the path we might follow on our way to a speedy recovery to avoid the cold hard reality of the debilitating effects a recession has on the economy.


The continue success of any media organization is to hold the views attention until commercial. Your clients are by and large the very companies you discuss everyday. Is it really in anyone's best interest to be forthright about the state of the economy if that mean less consumer spending, risk-taking and use of the very services that network sponsors rely on to maintain their largese?

Increasingly the notion that network media centers can openly consider constructive analysis, unfettered by corporate interests is that of a bygone era. If the dot-com boom involved a mass-delusion in which myopic growth estimates justified record high stock valuations, then a different sort of delusion is required to keep the public buying stocks. A new paradigm of investment reporting has taken center stage, and more than ever, the availability of news via TV, radio, internet and cell-phones demands greater attention be paid to the power of major media outlets and the message disseminated.

Escape and evasion is more than just a set of tactics, it is a way of convincing people who or what to target in the pursuit of financial success. Ultimately it is the viewers themselves who are being chased while believing the medium really is the message.

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