Wednesday, February 21

An economic journalism as terrible as war

We have never considered that the economic press had many scruples, nor was it asked of it, their thing was to report coldly on how the economy was or was expected to evolve, for better or for worse. Along with the above, given the current situation, no one will remember again that wars are a business opportunity for many people and sectors. People and sectors for which it is difficult to have good consideration if one has a minimum of ethics and decency.

It is true that in capitalism any tragedy ends up being a business for someone: a pandemic, for a pharmaceutical company; an earthquake, for a construction company; a forest fire, for a lumber company and a real estate company; a massacre, for a funeral home.

What we did not imagine is that the economic press would unashamedly expose the business possibilities of the war and defend that most abject part of the individual investor, interested in the economic opportunities that taking advantage of a tragedy, that is, of how one’s economic situation can improve thanks to the destruction and death of entire towns and cities.

As soon as the conflict in Ukraine began, on the same day, Expansión already titled “Five pieces of advice to the investor before the war in Russia and Ukraine”. A few days before, Bolsamanía headlined “What should investors do in the face of the conflict in Ukraine?”. Despite the individualism that supposes that, before the appearance of a war, the first thing you think about is how to protect your wallet, we can understand that it is an understandable reaction. There was no media specialized in economics that did not address this issue, including publications from consumer associations.

The feeling gets worse when the next day they title, also in Expansión, “The opportunity to buy on the stock market when a war breaks out”. And it began as expected, with the miserable quote attributed to the banker Nathan Mayer Rothschild in the Napoleonic wars, in which he advised “buy when there is blood in the streets.”

Several days later we find another unfortunate headline in El Economista: “The ‘advantages’ of the new cold war”.

This is his enthusiasm:

“A conflict can also be perfectly good for the economy. Rearmament kicks off a spending spree, creates jobs and often stimulates new technology. Investment increases by having to reconfigure supply chains. And in the medium term there is always the prospect of victory, which will lead to the reconstruction of the Russian economy. Investors will be anxious these weeks. But they will soon realize that a new cold war will actually be very good for the world economy, and perhaps even have to celebrate”.

What we said at the beginning, a shooting can be good for the economy of funeral homes, and an earthquake for construction companies and a war for arms companies. He failed to add, and if all those funeral, construction and arms companies are shareholders and advertisers of this newspaper, then it’s good for us.

In April 2014, Stanford University Classics professor Ian Morris wrote an article in The Washington Post titled “In the long run, wars make us safer and richer”.

In it he said the following:

“(…) war is hell, but have you considered the alternatives? Looking over the long span of history, it is clear that through 10,000 years of conflict, humanity has created larger, more organized societies that have greatly reduced the risk of their members dying violently. These better organized societies have also created the conditions for higher living standards and economic growth. The war has not only made us safer, but also richer.”

It is evident that those of us who write (or write) in the newspapers live in a different world than that of the unfortunates who live through wars. That is why it is very difficult for the current press to be able to explain them from the point of view of the humble.

How far are the words of Ryszard Kapuscinski: “The majority of the world’s inhabitants live in very harsh and terrible conditions, and if we do not share them we have no right -according to my morals and my philosophy, at least- to write”.

Now reread these current journalism headlines: “The opportunity to buy on the stock market when a war breaks out”, “The ‘advantages’ of the new cold war”.