Commentary

Is the glass half-full or half-empty? The classic question is a good way to look at the economy. Even economists don’t agree whether we’re in a “crisis” and a recession looms, or we’ve turned a corner and things are getting better. The only people who appear to be sure of what’s going on in the economy are journalists who feed the “crisis” idea to an unwitting public. The media have warned of recession or even depression throughout a 49-month run of positive job growth. But never more than in September when it briefly looked like that streak had ended. The... continue reading
The Republican debates have been a bit of a disappointment, at least for those seeking a Reaganesque vision of smaller government and economic liberty. Even the recent debate in Michigan, which was supposed to focus on economic issues, was less than illuminating. The major GOP candidates largely have confined themselves to generic statements in favor of smaller government, less waste, and extending the Bush tax cuts. Nothing is wrong with those concepts, to be sure, but the GOP has lost a lot of credibility on economic issues. During the Bush years, the size and scope of the state has expanded... continue reading
Consider Michigan. Michigan has been mired for several years in an economic slump. Its unemployment rate is the highest in the nation, 60 percent above the national average. Forbes magazine has ranked Michigan 46 th in the Best States for Business. It’s the only state in the country whose state GDP actually fell according to the latest data. The United Van Lines Migration Study had Michigan tied for first in outbound migration. It ranks 48 th in population growth. It’s among the worst states for home foreclosures; the poverty rate is above the national average; and the list goes on... continue reading
No matter how much conservatives might resist, some issues seem to call for federal intervention. Imagine something so important that threats to a particular industry are endangering our children’s future. One scary multibillion-dollar cabal of companies has huge influence in Washington, and its ads tell you what products to use every day. The firms involved typically report double-digit profits, a favorite complaint of anti-business types. I’m talking about health care, right? Wrong. I’m talking about the media. After all, if the journalistic prescription for nationalized health insurance is such a good idea, then why not apply the same remedy to... continue reading
This fall’s new shows are serving up some juicy stories of the twisted lives of businessmen, from “Big Shots” to “Dirty Sexy Money” and “Cane.” Everywhere you look on TV – whether it’s primetime dramas or the evening news – businessmen are in trouble. The Business & Media Institute’s latest study, “Bad Company III: For American Businessmen in the News, the Defense Never Rests,” is the latest proof. When businessmen appear in the news, it’s often because they’ve committed a crime or there’s a company problem like a product recall. And when they’re on TV shows, they’re often the villains... continue reading
“Armageddon.” “Collapse.” “Recession.” The media have been crying wolf about bad economic news throughout the four-year recovery. Now that they finally have some legitimate bad news, you can expect journalists will huff and puff even louder. Almost over night we’ve gone from the mainstream media crying wolf to claiming that very same wolf is at the door. Welcome to the Little Red Riding Hood Economy. How bad are things according to journalists? Bad enough to sell your children or turn your suburban home into a brothel. Only one of those was made up. According to one CBS affiliate story, “Housing... continue reading
The difficulties in the subprime lending market are beginning to generate a chorus for a bailout of the mortgage industry. The media emphasize stories of people losing their homes to foreclosure and potential panic as adjustable-rate mortgages are adjusted up. Yet a bailout, however structured, would be a bad idea. As Sherlock Holmes told Dr. Watson in “Scandal in Bohemia,” one problem is that we see but do not observe. For every homeowner who loses his home and moves into a smaller home or a rental, there is another homeowner who moves into that home and out of a smaller... continue reading
You say you want a revolution? OK, you don’t, but the extremists on the left certainly do. A “green revolution?” A “health care revolution?” How about just a good, old-fashioned blood-in-the-streets kind of “revolution?” Economic, political, social, they can’t decide on what, but they sure want one. The term “revolution” has returned to common usage among the ’60s leftovers and wannabes that now lead what has become the “populist” movement. There’s Michael Moore urging his followers to “start the revolution” for government-controlled health care. Nutrition zealot Marion Nestle celebrates “the food revolution,” complete with references to Marx, Lenin and Stalin... continue reading
Imagine basing a country’s energy and economic policy on an incomplete, unproven theory – a theory based entirely on computer models in which one minor variable is considered the sole driver for the entire global climate system. This is precisely what Al Gore, Senate Environment Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer and others want their nation to do. They expect Americans to accept on blind faith the thesis that human carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are causing catastrophic climate change. Boxer, Gore and their allies readily resort to emotional bullying against anyone who dares question this dogma. Their pronouncements – Boxer’s juvenile “the... continue reading
It has been a topsy-turvy few weeks for the stock markets, as fear of tightening credit markets fueled by prime and subprime mortgage woes have frightened the news media. The business media have been alternately hysterical and calm about the current economy. Free-market economists have mixed views on how good or bad things really are. But there’s one thing most agree on – government action is not the solution. The Business & Media Institute talked with several economists and financial advisors to get their perspectives on hot questions about the state of the markets. How did this happen? “There clearly,... continue reading