Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Anecdotal Headline Annotations

If I was handed a copy of today’s Wall Street Journal only a couple of years ago, I would have thought the headlines were a forecast of an ethical and economic Armageddon. How otherwise does one interpret the following captions, from just one day’s newspaper?

Governor Jailed in Alleged Crime Spree
In Illinois, Blagojevich Is Accused of Seeking to Sell Obama’s Senate Seat; Five-Year Corruption Probe

AIG Faces $10 Billion In Losses On Trades

The Stock Picker’s Defeat
The Fallen; Bill Miller. The declining fortunes of leading business figures. Second in a series.

Hard Times for Parmigiano Makers Have Italy Ponying Up the Cheddar
Government Tries a Bailout, ‘Just as There Was for Banks,’ to Help Struggling Producers

Fannie, Freddie Executives Knew of Risks

Restaurant Jobs, Like Tips, Shrink
Big US Employer Traditionally Has Served as a Fallback for Jobless, Immigrants

Panel to Criticize Handling of Bailout

Specifics of Stimulus Take Shape
Democratic Leaders Resist Growing Push for a Package Larger Than $500 Billion

Rangel’s Problems Dog Democrats

Pressure Mounts on Merkel for Bigger Fiscal Boost

Drop in Japan Tool Orders Exposes Global Spending Cutbacks

Developing Countries Feel Slump

Auto Bailout Moves Closer; Senate Battle Next Hurdle

China Urges Its Airlines to Curb Plane Orders

Pirate Attacks Keep Law Firm Buzzing

Sony to Cut 8,000 Jobs, Close Factories
Electronics Giant’s Turnaround Effort Undermined by Slumping Demand, Holiday Discounts

Resorts Feel Chill From Recession
Businesses and Consumers Curb Travel Plans; ‘AIG Effect’ Helps Create New Tone

GM Sees Sales Plunge in Brazil

NFL to Cut Jobs in Face of Recession

New York Times Holds Talks With Lenders

Safety Trumps Yield in Bill Sales
Investors Scoop Up 0% Short-Term Notes

Fed Weighs Selling Own Line Of Debt

Securities Firms Claw Back at Failed Bets

Some Commodities Investors Find Another Way to Lose Money

Reddy Ice Executives Gain On Prearranged Trading Plans

Tycoon’s Fall Is a Warning for Europe
Sanahuja Patriarch Loses Control of Metrovacesa; the Perils of Heavy Debt

Families Cut Back on Day Care As Costs – and Worries – Rise

These headlines are pretty much in order as they appear and although they are selective, there are no offsetting, positive ones. Perhaps that is merely a tendency towards yellow journalism to sell papers. But no wonder we all live in a state of anxiety without any real explanation as to how we have arrived at this point (although many commentators are adept to spinning plausible stories with the advantage of hindsight) and, certainly, without understanding how the forces behind these stories might play out in the future.