Regular journalism is for sissies.
“One of the cardinal rules of journalism is don't speculate, but we like to live dangerously around here ...” That’s how CNN’s “In the Money” panelist Jennifer Westhoven introduced the January 6 show, filled with predictions of economic woe for 2007.
From gas prices to unemployment to housing, nothing seemed to be out of their crystal ball’s range. And even when guests predicted good news, the CNN crew undermined it.
The 2007 predictions started with prices at the pump. Peter Beutel, president of energy risk management firm Cameron Hanover, was incredibly positive about declining prices, but the CNN host couldn’t let it go at that.
During the show’s introduction, Ali Velshi (standing in for anchor Jack Cafferty) took a glass-half-empty approach when he said, “we’ll find out how rough it could get at the pump next year.” However, Beutel predicted crude oil prices falling to $20 per barrel in the next four to eight years, with pump prices under $1.50/gallon.
But Velshi worried as long as American consumers had jobs, they would be “tricked” into spending money, as if that were a bad thing. Consumers will say, “I’m ok, I can buy the truck, I can stop worrying about a hybrid, I can continue to invest in energy companies,” Velshi said.
The negativity didn't stop at the pump.
A segment on the job market began on a positive note. Westhoven stated, “This morning we got this jobs report. ‘Rock solid,’ one economist called it, 167,000 new jobs.” Additionally, the country’s unemployment rate averaged 4.6 percent for 2006, a six-year low.
However, Ned Riley, founder and CEO of Riley Asset Management, had a different outlook. Riley commented that the “economy is losing momentum.” He even said, “… I think the unemployment rate's going to start to rise.” None of the “In the Money” reporters questioned Riley’s assertion. But he’s not the only one making predictions for the new year – a January 8 MarketWatch story reported Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Donald Kohn looking forward to a “good year.”
Predictions for 2007 wouldn't be complete without a segment devoted to the housing market. Allen Wastler started the segment with the infamous “housing bubble.” “Do you hear that? That ever so faint hissing noise? It's the hot air seeping out of the so-called real estate bubble,” he said. “It's pretty obvious the real estate bubble is deflating.”