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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press President Obama's $45 Billion in Exports to China: Where Is the Ridicule?

President Obama's $45 Billion in Exports to China: Where Is the Ridicule?

Wednesday, 19 January 2011 23:46

Suppose that President Obama had a press conference where he announced that he had found a quarter. Once the press corps realized that he was not joking and that this was actually the point of his press conference, they would immediately rush out pieces about how the president was off his rocker.

Well President Obama has not, thus far, had a press conference on the topic, but a "senior administration official" reportedly touted an agreement with China to buy $45 billion in U.S. exports. The Post article provided no information about the time period over which these goods would be purchased (e.g. 2 years? 10 years?), nor is there any reason to believe that the deal actually involves new exports. (One of the items in the Post article is planes being sold by Boeing, the sale of which had already been announced.)

While $45 billion may sound like a big commitment, senior administration officials know that it is not. The United States had a trade deficit with China of more than $250 billion over the first 11 months of 2010. Exports of $45 billion over some indefinite number of future years, many of which were already in the pipeline, will not affect this in any noticeable way.

In other words, it's great that President Obama found a quarter, but he should not be wasting the public's time by telling us about his good luck. The media should be ridiculing him for implying that this is an economically meaningful event.

Comments (5)Add Comment
More details/in context
written by JL, January 20, 2011 1:38

Your point is right that the reporter should have provided more details about the deal and put the numbers in the right context.

You are also off-base as you know well or should have known that in Washington, reporters essentially are the indirect printing tools of the WH regardless which power is in power.

If the newspaper don't print what is being touted by a source, the paper won't have the access any more. That's the reality of business.

WAPO is NOT Consumers Report.
Obama's "brain".
written by Ralph Musgrave, January 20, 2011 3:55
What makes Dean think that Obama even has the brain to do a press conference? He scarcely ever does live interviews with journalists (unlike Clinton). His last “press conference” (just prior to Xmas) as obviously choreographed.
In Free Markets, Good News Always Crowds Out Bad News
written by izzatzo, January 20, 2011 5:51
This is big commie lie. Everytime the press reports positive economic news Whose Your Nanny Baker mocks it.

Mr Nanny rails on about high unemployment every day, then one day the press reports on those who do have jobs and Mr Nanny sneers at it like those jobs are worth a quarter.

Newspapers wouldn't be in business if readers weren't rational. If a $45B trade deal with China doesn't produce the significant jobs predicted, newspapers that reported such false stories would be dropped and returned like a bag of defective paper clips purchased at WalMart.

Get a grip Mr Nanny. MSM news is not tautological that acts as a mirror to reflect predetermined beliefs of readers. It's driven by discerning consumers in a highly competitive market who insist on news for which predictions prove themselves over the full course of a 24-hour news cycle.

If those jobs weren't real, then the news about them could not have appeared in the first place. Manufactured news is not possible in free markets because bad news is always crowded out by good news.

Stupid liberals.
Bad Arithmetic
written by Nassim, January 20, 2011 12:40
$49 is not a quarter of $250. It is less than 20%. So, it is wrong to paint it as Mr. Obama finding a quarter, he found a dime, a nickel, and a few pennies. That is worth holding a news conference about.
Is That so is Right
written by Xelcho, January 22, 2011 5:48
He is right the "good news" as in news that is good for the sales of news papers or ratings is good. "Good news" is news that requires little to no investment on the part of the staff to verify. "Good news" is that news that is repeated parrot-like by papers across the nation. Is "good news", true?, is it validated?, is it relevant?, is it untwisted?. Many examples prove these questions to be important, if curious look no further than Glen Greenwald, one journalist who refuses to go beyond the facts.


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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.