Economics as News

Economics as News. 2023. Edited by Tiago Mata. Supplement to volume 55 of HOPE. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

"Introducing Journalism into the History of Economics," by Tiago Mata (pp. 1–17). Economics becomes news not because of the brilliance of its ideas or practitioners but because of conditions that the economics profession cannot control: the rapidly evolving ecologies of news media.

"'The British Lions Crouched to a Nest of Owls': The South Sea Bubble through the Lens of the London Press," by Carl Wennerlind (pp. 19–53). Recent historical work challenges the received view that the South Sea Bubble was cataclysmic and devastating--a challenge that finds support in the coverage of the event in the London press.

"Untangling Concepts of Objectivity in Nineteenth-Century Social Reform: Harriet Martineau and Henry Mayhew Observe Urban Poverty," by Evelyn L. Forget (55–74). Martineau and Mayhew wrote when ideas of objectivity were rapidly being transformed, and both influenced how social scientists came to understand objectivity and their roles as expert observers for the next century and a half.

"Henry Hazlitt Unbound: Pamphlets, Markets, and Economic Education after World War II," by Paul Charles Milazzo (pp. 75–101). Unbound print matter—the humble pamphlet—played an outsize role in transmitting Hazlitt's countercultural message while prompting collaborations that laid the groundwork for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), the first postwar libertarian think tank.

"Economics as a 'Story Engine': John D. McDonald and Business as Game and Gamble," by Tiago Mata (pp. 103–130). McDonald used game theory as a “story engine,” turning a set of scholarly ideas about actors in interaction into a journalistic device that helped McDonald develop his distinct contribution to business news.

Contributions from Journalists

  • "Writing about Economics," by Paul Blustein (pp. 133–136)
  • "Writing about Economics," by Peter Coy (pp. 137–140)
  • "Writing about Economics," by Chris Giles (pp. 141–143)
  • "Writing about Economics," by David Warsh (pp. 145–148)

"Crafting Newsworthiness at the Intersection of Business and Journalism: The Role of Context and Identity in Nascent Economic News Practice in Sweden," by Maria Grafström (pp. 149–174). Newsworthiness of economic information and the corporate world was not necessarily a consequence of increased demand for economic information but something that newspaper founders, journalists, and business graduates created long before the stock market became the center of corporate analysis.

"A 'Wonderful Program of Economic Pedagogy' in France," by Julien Duval (pp. 175–201). The success of "Capital" can be associated with the new relationships that journalists established with businesspersons and entrepreneurs, who had until then been rather reluctant to embrace journalistic investigation.

"Flawed Players in a Complex Game: Popular Audiovisual Explanations of Economics in the United States," by Roei Davidson (pp. 203–225). "Money, Explained" (and a lot of other content in the personal finance genre) infantilizes its audience, admonishing them for their psychological flaws and expecting them to adjust themselves to a financial system they cannot and should not govern.

"The Cultural Decline of the Chilean Model: The Aftermath of the 2019 Social Uprising," by Tomás Undurraga and Manuel Gárate (pp. 227–254). The core narrative of the Chilean model--that it provided a successful path for economic development and political stability led by the technocratic criteria of economists--has been toppled, thus allowing new actors such as journalists and activists to enter the public debate.