OLD Media Moves

Maven slams lax coverage of GDP numbers

September 4, 2006

Marek Fuchs of TheStreet.com slammed recent coverage of the gross domestic product data, noting that most of the stories lacked context.

Marek FuchsFuchs wrote, “I’m speaking about the way GDP numbers are reported as if they’re carved in stone, when we all know they are often revised. It happened again this week — and hell hath no fury like a Business Press Maven ignored.

“This week we were greeted with headlines about how ‘The Economy Grew Faster Than Expected in the Second Quarter.’ That’s because gross domestic product growth was revised upward from a slightly anemic 2.5% to a pretty respectable 2.9%.

“The problem was … when that 2.5% number was reported, little mention was made of how it was a first-stab number. Articles treated 2.5% as gospel and went on to draw (false) conclusions.

“This is nothing new, unfortunately.

“Back in March, the Commerce Department revised its estimates of the previous quarter’s growth. You may recall that I got all hissy about this same subject then.

“See, initially the growth for the fourth quarter of 2005 was put at 1.1%, which caused panic-mode headlines about the nation being on the cusp of recession. That little detail about the possibility (nay, near certainty) of upward revision? Almost always buried deep within articles in a butt-covering little mention like ‘initial government estimates of economic growth are frequently revised higher.'”

Read more here.

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