In defense of the BW cover “The Death of Equities”
Peter Coy, a longtime Bloomberg BusinessWeek staffer, writes about the publication’s most infamous cover story, 1979’s “The Death of Equities.”
Coy writes, “I called up Seymour Zucker, who was editing economics coverage for the magazine in 1979 but was not involved in the un-bylined article and is now happily retired in Brooklyn. He was succinct: ‘Well, I guess we were wrong about that.’
“Now allow me to offer a partial defense of ‘The Death of Equities.’
“First, the article remained correct for three years after it was written. In the world of journalism, three years is almost forever. To avoid being deemed inaccurate, an article has to remain correct only from the time it’s written until the time it reaches readers. After that, it’s like a fledgling bird that has flown from the nest. It’s on its own. If financial journalists could truly see the future, we wouldn’t be typing for a living. We’d be on an island somewhere. Other than Manhattan.
“Besides, in the three years after the cover story appeared, stocks fell and inflation rose, meaning that stocks really were comatose, if not dead. Justin Lahart of the Wall Street Journal—bless his heart—observed in 2005: ‘And that August 1979 Business Week cover story wasn’t quite as wrong as people remember. When it came out, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 867. Three years later, it was at 779. Adjust that for inflation, the Dow had fallen 32%.'”
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