After watching the recent documentary “Inside Job,” about the U.S. economic collapse in 2008, I couldn’t help wondering: Where was the business press during all the run-up to the edge of the cliff?
The film is not shy about pointing fingers at villains: greedy bankers, revolving-door government officials who go to Washington to look out for Wall Street, academic economists who write “studies” that “show” that whatever Wall Street wants to do is rational, efficient, etc.
But while the film allocates plenty of blame to markets and to feckless regulators, it says nothing about an institution that is supposed to help protect consumers, investors, and the general public: the media that cover business. The well-paid reporters and editors work for newspapers, magazines, television and websites — everybody from the NYT and WSJ to the Economist and Forbes to CNBC. Where were they?
–Did they explain the rotten core of CDO’s before they imploded (i.e., when the information would have been really timely and useful)?
–Did they spot the housing bubble?
–Did they reveal how bogus the standards had become for subprime loans?
Or, did they do what they usually do — admire executives who had a good quarter, cheer for the Dow to rise, and repeat pro-business dogmas about low taxes?
Hmm… If any academics are looking for a topic to study, that might be a good place to start.