BBC Newsnight journalist and the economic crisis

BBC Newsnight economics editor Paul Mason discusses the current global economic crisis from a journalist’s perspective, asking – “When and how will the crisis end?” Writing in the International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy, Mason argues that the global economic crisis needs to be seen as “an attempt to return to stability after the great disruption of the decade before the 2008 crunch.” He reported on the crisis of 2008 as it happened from the US and in his book Meltdown was apparently one of the first to describe publicly what went wrong. His hypothesis is that the strain of preventing a major slump as was experienced by the industrialised nations in the 1930s Great Depression has introduced significant “systemic tensions” in global financial and commercial systems that are yet to be released.

“The long-term choice involved in recovery is between rethinking the nature of the global economic and financial architecture and some type of competitive solution to the crisis,” Mason suggests. Unfortunately, we are to put it figuratively, stuck between a rock and a hard place, between the Devil and the deep blue sea, caught between Scylla and Charybdis because as he adds, “Both of these have unpredictable outcomes.”

In his paper, Mason concedes that he is not an economist, he does not even have a high-school qualification in economics. But, he says that has not hindered his understanding of the bigger issues. Indeed, there is one school of thought that an “outsider” attempting to grasp the intricacies of a specialist subject either gains a clearer understanding than many of those on the inside or else becomes a specialist through their research endeavours. Of course, as a journalist, Mason does have access to endless financial reports that the lay public simply never sees, including those published by Goldman Sachs, Standard Chartered, the World Bank, the OECD and many other organisations.

From Mason’s perspective he sees two extreme outcomes of the releasing of those inherent tensions across global economics. On the one hand, there might be a competitive race, currency walls, runaway inflation resulting from quantitative easing (banks printing money) in which China perhaps emerges victorious and stronger, Japan and perhaps peripheral Europe lose, and the US is left in a kind of limbo. At the other extreme, a reinvention of globalisation in which the state takes a serious belly blow to allow the global economy to re-emerge. Unfortunately, no state could survive a second such injury. “This is the problem of the crisis,” Mason concludes.

Research Blogging IconMason, P. (2012). When and how will the crisis end? An economic journalist’s perspective, International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy, 6 (3) DOI: 10.1504/IJMCP.2012.049945

One thought on “BBC Newsnight journalist and the economic crisis”

  1. I could be wrong but it seems like the growing burden of noncommunicable disease is a major factor in the global economic crisis. It is a factor American politicians have not mentioned during this election cycle.

    During the 2009 presidential campaign Barack Obama said, “I was just reading an article in The New York Times by Michael Pollan about food and the fact that our entire agricultural system is built on cheap oil. As a consequence, our agriculture sector actually is contributing more greenhouse gases than our transportation sector. And in the mean time, it’s creating mono cultures that are…partly responsible for the explosion in our health care costs because they’re contributing to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, obesity, all the things that are driving our huge explosion in health care costs.”(1)

    President Obama and his wife Michelle believe they’re doing something to curb health care costs by planting a White House garden and by encouraging the consumption of more fruits and vegetables. In reality, they’ve accomplished very little because they continue to endorse the government’s dietary advice(2).

    In a recent (October 19, 2012) letter to the Irish Times Dr. Neville Wilson noted, “The proposal to follow the example of Denmark, by imposing a tax on saturated fats reflects a poor understanding of the distinctive differences between natural, healthy, saturated fats (butter, cheese, etc) and unhealthy partially-hydrogenated fats, high in trans-fat and vegetable oils, which are amongst the chief culprits in our current epidemic of obesity and heart disease.”(3)

    A year earlier Dr. Wilson said in a blog post, “The Food Pyramid, a product of the USA Dept. of Agriculture, with its unhealthy promotion of excess carbohydrates, has left a legacy of chronic obesity and morbidity wherever it has been applied, and has finally, and rightfully, been relegated to antiquity…A major weakness of the revised guidelines is their adherence to the anti-fat dogma, which reflects policy statements of the American Heart Association and The Irish Heart Foundation, based on the false belief that saturated fats are a risk for heart disease because they ‘raise cholesterol levels’…The scaremongering approach to fats has deprived our nation of healthy fats, and offered false hopes of health gains by promoting unhealthy alternatives to healthy butter, whole milk and cheese, since they are devoid of supportive nutrients, unless fortified.”(4)

    Whether consumers pay attention to it or not, a government’s dietary advice affects the quality of the food supply in terms of the quality of the ingredients used in baked goods, restaurant food, confections, salad dressings, and prepared foods of all sorts. Specifically, omega-6 industrial seed oils are a major ingredient replacing traditional fats such as butter, lard, beef tallow, olive oil, and coconut oil(5). And despite the fact that seed oils promote obesity(6), the public health sector continues to promote excessive consumption of omega-6s(7). Meanwhile, humanity just keeps getting fatter and sicker(8). This ever-increasing burden of disease is affecting the global economy but few seem to be paying attention to the matter(9).


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