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Dec 12 / Jonathan

Credit where credit is due

NYT Informs Readers of Forecaster’s Track Record

Yes, it can be done. The NYT headline read, “Goldman, Once Warning Of $200 Oil, Sees $45 In 2009.”

This is exactly what the media should be doing when they present forecasts from various experts. For example, when they share the views of people like Alan Greenspan on the economy, they can preface them with a comment like, “Alan Greenspan, who insisted there was no housing bubble.” In fact, the media should preface the predictions of almost all their economic experts with this comment.

With some experts this assertion would be especially important information. For example, predictions from Frederick Mishkin, a New York University professor and a former governor of the Federal Reserve Board, should carry the preface “who recently praised Iceland’s economy for its effective inflation targeting.” Statements from Frank Nodthrift, the former chief economist with Freddie Mac, should include the phrase, “who asserted that house prices never fall.”

Reporters should be familiar with the track record of the experts they rely upon and they should share this information with the public.

—Dean Baker

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