Battlepanda: Will the real (or nominal) George Will please stand up?


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Will the real (or nominal) George Will please stand up?

Heh. This is why I love Daniel Gross.
But some of those who are trumpeting the high nominal value of the stock market are urging people to focus on the real, inflation-adjusted value of another asset that has been at record highs recently. Take a gander at George Will's absurd column last week. "Economic hypochondria is also bred by news media that consider the phrase 'good news' an oxymoron," he wrote, "even as the U.S. economy, which has performed better than any other major industrial economy since 2001, drives the Dow to record highs." Next, Will pooh-poohed high oil prices, noting "the recent 20 percent decline of the cost of a barrel of oil, from a nominal record of $78.40 (which, adjusting for inflation, was well below the 1980 peak of $92 in 2006 dollars)." Got that? Will celebrates the record nominal high in stock prices but urges readers to focus on the real price of oil. By mixing and matching real and nominal, Will could just as easily have argued that oil is more expensive than it has ever been, while the Dow is barely at the level it reached in 1999. If Democrats controlled the levers of power, he'd be making precisely that argument.
Of course, the kind of game-playing between real and nominal values as well as different ways to calculate figures like unemployment are the bread-and-butter of rightwing shills. Which makes the effortless way Gross skewered Will for his routine disingenuousness only more satisfying.