Here's the one thing: You get what you pay for.
You've probably heard this saying applied to bargain shopping, but I'll show you how this idea also works when it comes to economic advice from the government or economists.
Take Ben Bernanke. Back in March of 2007, he said: "The problems in the subprime market seems likely to be contained."
Or how about the former economist for the National Association of Realtors, who said back at the peak of the housing market in 2005: "All of the doom and gloom forecasts of a housing debacle are not only irresponsible, but also downright wrong."
Sorry, thanks for playing.
And just this week, President Obama said it might not be a bad idea to buy stocks now.
Really? I'll take "This Won't Work Out Well for 1,000," Alex.
What all these things have in common is that we didn't have to pay for any of them. Well, actually we will be paying for them or more accurately our grandkids will — but that's a different story.
With that in mind, let's look at the latest Wall Street Journal survey of economists. Remember, this is free advice: About 90 percent of the economists said the recession would be over by the end of this year; 100 percent said the recession would be over by the end of next year.
One hundred percent — not one dissenter!
That sounds like great news, right? Sure, until you consider their track record:
February 2007, this group of soothsayers predicts a 22 percent chance of a recession. Turns out there was a 100 percent chance of them being wrong.
February 2008, the recession was already three months old, but the average guess from the economists was that there was just a 48.9 percent chance we'd see one.
October 2008, the recession was now almost a year old and these guys still can't all see it: They upped their prediction to 89.3 percent.
The lesson here should be obvious: Ignore advice from anyone who's offering it for free. It's like getting an eye exam from Mister Magoo. Why is anyone still asking them?
Why do we still care what groups of random economists or government cheerleaders have to say?
And, most importantly, how soon will it be until all of the distrust and bad advice turns America's fear into hate and our panic into what some are already calling in the U.K. the impending "summer of rage"?
What do you think? Send your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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