Analysts Say

‘Analysts say’: It’s the no-more-gaps of journalese. The dignifying of rent-a-quotes with the title of ‘analyst’ is all-purpose cover-up for the passing off of idle conjecture and sheer guesswork as the carefully though out prognostications of the prescient.

Financial media is full of it. Up against deadline and desperate to find facts to fit the premise snatched from the ether by an editor in search of an easy splash, journalists will find “analysts” who will say anything to fit the purposes of the story. Continue reading

The Man Behind the Curtain

Being a successful media pundit depends on a couple of core skills – one is a capacity for sounding absolutely confident about your predictions; the other is your ability to seamlessly and plausibly change gear after the fact without denting your public credibility at all.

Traditionally, pundits have gotten away with these 180-degree reversals because of the mainstream media’s monopoly on analysis. Being the sole mediator allowed established outlets to play footsie under the table with the poohbahs who told us what to think about economics, politics and everything else. Each needed the other. Continue reading

The Forecast Deficit

A few years back an economic forecaster was asked to explain why his predictions of a 10 per cent return on the Australian equity market that year hadn’t come to pass. (The market ended down nearly 40 per cent in 2008). “It’s not my fault,” he complained. “No-one predicted Lehman.”

To which the response is well, isn’t that the point? Forecasts are subject to considerable error, due to the tendency for events to screw around with one’s cherished assumptions. A plane flies into a building, an investment bank goes belly up, a country defaults, a government changes etc;
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