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September 04, 2009



There's a problem here: the journalist does not asseverate that the stimulus has helped the economy. Rather, Time reports the conclusion of Goldman Sachs economists, who are employed to advise investors on the probable results of, amongst other things, government policies. That doesn't mean they're right, of course, but it does mean that one cannot blithely dismiss the report as the product of reporter stupidity. In fact, there are plenty of economists well outside the Krugman orbit who still thought the fiscal stimulus was the right idea. They are also quite likely to be wrong. But still, it does not go without saying that journalists aren't very smart. That's terrible exegesis, as well as casually insulting to those who are not the ultimate problem.

Nathan Smith

The following phrase is used in the above column:

"the fact that it's working..."

Note the word *fact.* I suspect the Goldman Sachs economists are being misquoted; if not, they're trying to get in good with the Democrats. (Note that "advising investors" has nothing to do with this particular estimate: ARRA has been passed, and the counter-factual in which it isn't won't happen, so GS economists do not betray their investor advice function by trying to curry favor with the most powerful political party in decades by cooking the numbers.) But while tossing out a loony-tunes estimate whose absurdity can be exposed in a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation is bad practice on the part of the Goldman Sachs economists, I assume that they did not refer to their number as a "fact."

No, journalistic stupidity is the appropriate charge here. That, or journalistic partisanship.

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