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November 26, 2007
ED MORRISSEY WONDERS WHY THE GOOD NEWS ABOUT RETAIL SALES is being ignored:
Retailers expected a boost between 4-5% on "Black Friday". They got almost twice that, as shoppers flooded the malls on the day after Thanksgiving, the traditional kickoff of the Christmas shopping season. Consumers shrugged off the credit crunch and the rhetoric of the doom-and-gloom Democrats, who promise that poverty lurks just around the corner.
One might think that this would make headlines -- but despite the AP's report, few of its clients appear to have selected it for the Sunday papers.
Hmm. This sounds familiar. Where have I heard something like it before? Oh, yes, right here:
I have found over the years that there is often a huge disconnect between belief about the economy and the true economic state of affairs. Until the statistics are actually published, people tend to assess the economy through the eyes of the national media. In 1992, when Bill Clinton won the presidency based on worries about the economy, the statistics that came out after the election showed that the period leading up to November had actually been a period of record growth. . . . In his 1996 State of the Union speech, President Clinton said we had the best economy in thirty years -- a statement that sent a flurry of reporters to check actual statistics rather than popular political movements and sweeping, politically motivated statements. The more people looked at the facts, the more they agreed, and six months later, there was near-unanimity that the economy was in good shape. Had the economy changed? No, what had changed was knowledge about the true facts of the economy.
Hmm. Wildly incorrect ideas about the state of the economy in 1992. A focus on facts that showed the good economic news in 1996. What could account for that change? And why does it seem to have worn off in the 2008 season?