Friday, July 30, 2010

There they go again

I enjoy David Brooks. From everything I can tell, he is smart and has a good heart. I would guess he is a terrific dinner companion. So I was disappointed when I read in his column this morning:

What we have is not just a cycle but a condition. We could look back on the period between 1980 and 2006 as the long boom ...

Sorry, David, but 1980 to 2006 was not a long boom. Consult the National Income and Product Accounts tables, and you will find that real GDP over that time grew about 3.1 percent per year. In the "awful" Nixon-Ford-Carter 1970s, growth was 3.2 percent per year; in the 60s 4.2 percent; in the 50s 3.5 percent, and in the 40s 5.6 percent.

It is not that 1980-2006 was bad, just hardly a boom relative to the previous 40 years.


David Barker said...


The New York Times isn't writing for the median American, it is aimed at the wealthy. The relevant measure of boom and bust is therefore not per capita GDP, but stock market returns. The stock market did far better from 1980-2006 than it did during the 1970s.

As I think Studs Terkel pointed out, American newspapers have business (capitalist) sections, but no labor sections.

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