7th November 2008
Paul Mason economics editor of the BBC’s Newsnight hosted an interesting event at the Frontline Club on Thursday 7th November. In attendance: Gillian Tett of the Financial Times, Michael Blastland, a freelance writer, Paul Lashmar, and yours truly. The theme was, and I paraphrase: “Why did the media fail to predict the crash? And what can editors do to prevent such myopia in the future?” Self-flagellation was in evidence all evening to the credit of the journalists present.
Paul Lashmar is undertaking research into the stories that were or were not written, and comparing these to What Was Not Written about Weapons of Mass Destruction. Gillian Tett gave a fascinating insight into her struggle to get the FT to investigate that large chunk of the financial iceberg obscured from everyone’s view – the credit and debt markets. The paper she argued, focussed on just the tip of the iceberg – the equity and M&A markets. I urged editors not to patronise their readers. People are hungry for a conceptual understanding of economics. Economists I argued were like those tourists on Phuket Beach. Only they were using complex mathematical modelling to measure perturbations on the surface of the water, instead of trying to understand the movement of tectonic plates beneath the waves…No wonder they could not predict the financial tsunami. . . Watch the debate here.