The New York Times and The Economist
In the New York Times this morning there is a wonderful article entitled “The Economist Tends Its Sophisticate Garden.” As a decade old subscriber I was very curious to see how my favorite magazine would be treated by the Times.
After treading the opening introduction of The Economist, I am extremely impatient to see how the Economist is going to respond. Being a British publication I am quite sure they will come up with a stinging, witty response to The Times. Or not, I have never been able to understand those British but I am voting for a STINGING, WITTY RESPONSE!
*Note to The Economist Editors – Please don’t let me down.
If you’re an avid reader of both The Economist and The Times, then you will know there has been an ongoing feud between Paul Krugman, The Times Senior Economic party-pooper in chief and the identity-less army of economists at The Economist.
*Note: I still like Paul Krugman and his articles. :)
The formula goes:
1. Paul writes an economic article – Usually that the apocalypse is coming.
2. The Economist, not liking their turf to be tread upon, tells Paul he is wrong.
I was aware of the recent spat but doing a quick search, the first article I came upon was from 2008: Krugman’s conundrum.
Recently, things have gotten ugly.
1. The Times – “I’m Gonna Haul Out The Next Guy Who Calls Me ‘Crude’ And Punch Him In The Kisser,” – Paul Krugman
This was in response to,
2. The Economist – Austerity Alarm – Which really upset Mr. Krugman by saying this:
“Mr Krugman’s crude Keynesianism underplays the link between firms’ and households’ behaviour and their expectations of future tax and spending policy.”
Which was in response to,
3. The Times – The Third Depression – Paul Krugman
Boy, things are becoming very interesting concerning The Times and The Economist. Again, I’m very impatient for The Economists reply to the recent dig by The Times!!
The Times states:
“The newsweekly, a bible of global affairs for those who wear aspirations of worldliness on their sleeves, did not become a status symbol overnight. It took 25 years of clever advertising that tugs at the insecurities and ambitions of the status-seeking reader to help the magazine get there.”
I cannot say why others may read the Economist but I can tell you The Times definitely has my number as one “who wears aspirations of worldliness on their sleeves.” I created a blog called The Global Citizen for God’s sakes and take pride in understanding other cultures, languages and keeping up to date on “worldly” affairs. So there is no way I can escape the accusation.
However, as for “insecurities and ambitions,” I’m not sure how they came up with these. Perhaps when interviewing people who read the Economist, the first reader couldn’t make eye contact but really had his mind set on becoming Secretary of State?
I was first introduced to The Economist by my father who is a very avid reader and whose opinion I hold in very high regard. I was studying abroad at the time and the international focus of The Economist really appealed to me. It was a very large breath of fresh air from the American sources of news that focused and continues to focus on one area of the globe. America.
As I was looking for news sources like this, the only other quality “international” publication I could find was The International Herald Tribune published by guess who?? Yep, The New York Times.
However, with the IHT the formula followed that of many other newspapers whose articles simply report “this happened there, and this other thing happened over there.” What I was looking for was in-depth reporting with a splash of opinion and The Economist provided this very well. I wanted insight, not just a report of what has happened.
This does not mean I am not without criticism at of The Economist. At times, I become a little tired of this group of Brits continually telling foreign countries what to do and that if they did “x” then everything would get better. Perhaps they are mostly right, but it still feels like an uppity British banker telling poor countries how stupid they are and to get their act together.
My other criticism is that they see the world through an economic lens and it often seems that this is the only lens they use. I have often thought that I would really love to read a magazine that is The Economist, but strips out a good majority of the economics. But I guess with a name such as The Economist, this is simply a ridiculous thing to say. :)
My criticisms are very few however and I still love my Economist. I love their liberal standpoint on social issues and I find their publication a very good counter to the current American conservatives. The conservatives here in the USA now believe good economic management (free trade, low taxes, less government) belongs only to them. There may be some truth to this but the problem is that they couple this with regression and stagnation socially. One this first point, I am very much inclined to agree with them but what repels me is their stance on the social issues. The conservatives are against things such as Gay marriage, Immigration and anything that smells of a “socialist policy.” To be honest, they have relied too much on their extremest elements which no matter how many ways they try to justify their position, all too often boils down to simple raw hate.
The Economist however, has a greater claim to “economics” and spells out why certain policies would be beneficial in numbers. The American conservatives just yell. Therefore, this gives The Economist more authority over anything economic and the fact that they also realize that some people are going to need a safety net really endears me to their publication.
Instead of “yelling” like American conservative media outlets, The Economist lays out a very clear and thoughtful argument to social problems and often supplements these with numbers. Media outlets such as Fox news however, simply whip their audience into a froth on every issue with their underlying point being, “If we let this happen, America is going to die.”
My regard for the magazine became even stronger when they supported Barack Obama for president. They were not afraid to point out the various catastrophes of the Bush administration and knew that a change was needed. I came to respect them even more when they took Obama to task for some of his failings!
This is what every news publication should be. One that praises the achievements and underscores the failures of every leader no matter their political affiliation. This is how we do become smarter!
So when the times states the below in their article, my answer is “YES! I do feel smarter!”
“They’ve always implied that if you read The Economist, you’ll be just a little bit wiser and smarter than the average guy,” said Joseph Plummer
When I first read this quote I was simply AGHAST as I thought The Times (who I also love) had quoted “Joe THE Plummer” who still manages to poke his head out of the sand like a ground hog and say something ridiculous on occasion. I thought for a split second that the end of the world was upon us if one of my favorite publications was now quoting head dufus from the McCain campaign days.
Yet, I was quickly relieved when I read his title being; “adjunct professor of marketing at Columbia Business School and a former executive at McCann Worldgroup.”
*Note, that says McCann not McCain. – Just to make sure we are clear.
Finally, I responded with a quizzical Japanese head tilt when The Times claims in their opening sentence:
“Its fire-engine-red logo peeks out of fashionable handbags and from the back pockets of designer jeans.”
I’m not sure about other countries but here in downtown San Francisco (Union Square area) I would think that The Economist would make designer bag wearers heads tilt so much that they might actually fall over. I’m not sure what those people read but I can be sure it is anything but economics.