Monday, July 20, 2009

Stop thinking like that! 

I was driving through town (for locals: down Third Ave N at the laundromat on the corner at Cooper) when a billboard caught my eye:
Recession 101:

Economic forecasts tend to be shovel-ready
As the local economic forecaster, I at first thought someone was taking a shot at me. (You DO realize, right, that the world revolves around me? Good, thought you did.) But no, this turns out to be a national campaign by someone who doesn't like bad economic news.
"Interesting fact about recessions ... they end."

"Self worth is greater than net worth."

"This will end long before those who caused it are paroled."

Those are a few of the messages drivers in Rhode Island and across the country are seeing as part of a billboard campaign dubbed "Recession 101" and funded by an anonymous East Coast donor who was depressed about how the country was reacting to the economy's tailspin.

The campaign began in June and is now appearing on more than 1,000 billboards across America, including a spot in New York's Times Square. The client wanted people to realize the country has undergone recessions before and made it through, said designer Charlie Robb.

"One of the lines is, 'Stop obsessing about economy, you're scaring the children.' That's the overriding concept of the thing," said Robb, founding director of the Florida-based Charchin Creative.
The whole campaign can be found here. I understand the desire to remind America of its resiliency and optimism. But seriously, those of us who write forecasts are not trying to do anything other than get the forecast right. The only people who hide bad news lately work at OMB.

At least one strand of research suggests that, if you want consumer sentiment to improve, start with the newspapers, not the economists.

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