“Talking Down” the Economy Isn’t a Thing

Xinhua via ZUMA

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Matthew Gertz reports on the latest conspiracy theorizing from Donald Trump and his friends at Fox News:

President Donald Trump and his allies at Fox News have settled on a strategy to deal with the possibility of an oncoming economic recession: Blame the media.

….Lou Dobbs, whose Fox Business show Trump watches religiously and who at times has advised the White House, levied the charge even before Trump did….The narrative quickly took hold on Fox News and Fox Business as hosts accused the press of “talking down the economy deliberately” and trying to “make this economy go into recession.” For Sean Hannity, this was evidence that journalists are willing to threaten the economic security of millions of Americans for political gain. “Some are desperately hoping — hoping and praying, hoping and praying Americans will lose their jobs, lose their savings, see a major decrease in their retirement, 401(k)s,” he claimed on Wednesday night….Fox News hosts Jeanine Pirro and Jesse Watters continued to push the conspiracy theory narrative through the weekend. Trump did too, tweeting from the G-7 meeting in Biarritz, France, that the news media is “trying to force a Recession” because journalists “hate” the United States.

Gertz rightly says that this is stupid because, in fact, no one in the media is rooting for a recession. But it’s stupid for an even more fundamental reason: it doesn’t matter. Recessions don’t happen because people start talking about them. They happen because the economy overheats a bit and investors turn from bullish to bearish. The proximate cause might be a housing bust, a dotcom bust, an oil spike, or a bank failure, but only if the economic fundamentals are there in the first place.

I realize that Fox News doesn’t care about this, but I guess my challenge to them is this: can you name a single recession ever that was triggered by talk? They can’t, and they know it.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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