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The Media and the Truth About Financial Sector


The Media and  Financial Sector

At the risk of stating the obvious, doesn’t it seem as though the media has become increasingly bias in recent years? And doesn’t it seem that (depending on which network you’re watching) the news varies greatly in their respective ideas of “truth”? And if it is, doesn’t that mean the media – on one side or the other – is deliberately lying to Americans? Yeah, we thought so too. This is why we were surprised to find a lot of information about this new twist; but of course, it was spun by the same ones responsible for these growing criticisms and concerns. It would appear the media and politicians both are missing one important aspect: the American public is catching on.

Who to Trust?

So how is the economy, really? Should you be worried about anything from the various weekly reports from the government to the fiscal cliff to the overwhelming evidence that suggests we’re weeks away from another and worse recession? We figured we’d present the facts and let you decide for yourself. After all, we have families too and our concerns are the same as our readers: Will we be able to retire? Will our children be able to get an education? Will be able to meet our credit card payments and mortgage payments in a year?

First, it’s important to include the elephant in the room (and hasn’t it become quite the disturbing truth?) – elections are one month and a few days away at the time of this writing. This certainly complicates matters for those with ulterior motives, which might explain the behavior of a lot of so called “professionals”. Still, there’s nothing more powerful than the facts.

Most important to American consumers/taxpayers is the median household income. It’s dropped more than $3,000 from the summer of 2009 through August 2012. It’s currently at $50,678.

Student Loans and Credit Card Debt

Both student loan debt – and in recent weeks, concerns about credit card debt – are creeping into the mindset of American consumers. The problem is, depending on which network you watch, you could get conflicting information. Some say credit cards are problematic because credit card debt is falling while others say we’re still spending via our favorite Visa despite still-low unemployment rate. Neither President Obama nor Governor Romney appear to be overly concerned as both have opted to forgo those difficult conversations with would-be voters. The first in a series of debates begin this week and it could be those questions are finally asked; however, we’ve not been able to find anything to suggest they will.

Mortgage rates are still incredibly low – but no one is buying or refinancing. There’s no other way to report that kind of news, either. The media, however, has found ways to spin it to its advantage.

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting has been gathering data on the media. It believes a combination of “independent, aggressive and critical media” is the only path to an informed society. It also says the media and politics have become “increasingly cozy”, which serves as a bias that is unethical at best. The media should be watchdogs, it says, but instead, is being supported by corporations that advertise with them along with the politicians themselves. FAIR supports what it refers to as “structural reform” by breaking down the massive media conglomerates while simultaneously providing independent public broadcasting, as it should be.

GDP

Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, is one of the best indicators of how the economy is truly doing. It offers up the cold hard truth about many things in the financial sector, including the grand total in dollars of goods and services. Of course, factors such as timeframes will play a role, but for all intents and purposes, it’s the barometer of the economy and is defined in percentages. Frankly, unless you’re an analyst or economist, measuring and then understanding it is complicated – and impossible for many of us. Still, the two generally accepted methods of figuring GDP is either by adding up the collective American income via their salaries or by taking the opposite approach of tallying how much we spend in a year. Those numbers rarely vary regardless of which method is used.

The most important fact about GDP for these purposes is that is growing at an alarmingly low rate – just 1.26% during the spring and summer. Population grew at about the same rate, which is problematic for all those equations and algorithms economists use. Not only that, but regardless of how fast or slow the GDP is moving, population does grow at a more consistent rate. So what does all this mean? The predictions of another recession are likely right on target – and there are more of those economists who are now in agreement.

The Media

One reason all of this contradictory information is driving us slightly crazy is how the media uses the data and what’s so frustrating is the bickering back and forth. Think we’re kidding? Take a look at quotes and headlines from October 1st. It’s little wonder so many Americans are confused:

This is a direct quote from a Fox News Story: (cite)

But the press isn’t always so consistent. You won’t be surprised to learn that when there is a Democratic president in the White House, the media tend to view things in a positive light. When Republicans are at the helm, they are more negative.

Meanwhile, over on MSNBC (cite)

House Republicans continue to resist any discussion of tax increases.

If you are a parent of young children, odds are, you recognize this kind of pettiness.

Fiscal Cliff

The truth of the matter is (and both left and right media outlets can agree at least on this) – if the fiscal cliff indeed proceeds on January 1 – each household can expect a $3,500 instant tax increase. This news was announced on Monday and for once, the media outlets seem to have come together for a common cause: the growing concerns on the lack of activity before now to prevent the tax breaks from expiring.

Do you think the media is being misleading in its efforts? What about its headlines? Many click on links thinking they’re going to read something completely different than what the actual story is about. And which major media outlet do you trust more? Let us know your thoughts – after all, despite the efforts of some political minds and journalistic circles, the consumer still holds the power.

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