Thursday, September 16, 2010

Understatement of the Millennium

From A special report on debt: Repent at leisure, The Economist, 24 Jun 2010

"Such turmoil is a sign that debt is not the instant solution it was made out to be."
I wonder: Did The Economist ever make such a bold statement before the financial crisis hit? In that earlier time, the special report says, "Those who cautioned against rising debt levels were dismissed as doom-mongers." Was The Economist cautioning its readers back then, or dismissing the doom-mongers?

(Observe the use of the passive voice in the phrases "it was made out to be" and "were dismissed." Who made it out to be, and who did the dismissing, are carefully hidden.)

It is easy, now, to speak wisely of the dangers of debt. Now the dangers are obvious. But the reasons there are dangers remain much less clear. If The Economist was unable to see those dangers beforehand, then surely it did not understand those reasons then, and very likely it does not understand those reasons now.

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