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December 25, 2007

CHRISTMAS RETAIL SALES UP, BUT BY A MODEST 3.6% -- but online sales were up 22.4%. The New York Times calls those numbers "bleak," a term that's more accurately used in reference to its stock prices . . . .

Related post here. It's all about the narrative.

UPDATE: Reader, and hedge-fund manager, George Zachar emails:

Investors now have to gauge not only the reality of economic data, but its predictable willful misrepresentation by the press. We therefore have to speculate not only on underlying conditions, but on the effectiveness of the effort to scupper Main Street confidence.

On another matter, tech unfriendliness is a big driver in NYC commercial real estate, and the conversion of many older buildings into residential lofts.

Yeah, the press reports have consequences besides their intended one, of swinging the elections.

UPDATE: Reader Eric West emails:

The same schmuck, Michael Barbaro, wrote a similar story in 2005. He also wrote a story back in September of his year trying to say back to school sales only looked good, but really weren't:

Why do we care what the some schmuck at the New York Times writes anymore, anyway?

It's like reading something Andrew Sullivan writes and instead of saying, "Sullivan thinks....." we write, "The Blogosphere today announced that...."

Bologne. We need to get out of the habit of saying, "The New York Times....." and giving backing to these folks. Instead, we should say, "Michael Barbaro wrote....." and treat him just like we'd treat anyone in the blogosphere.

Good point. Why let people hide behind institutions? And, of course, Barbaro's other retail coverage has sometimes been a bit tendentious.

MORE: Well, this makes the NYT look worse, even if it doesn't necessarily make the economy look better -- apparently the NYT was reporting good and bad spins on the same numbers in two different stories on its front page today. And Kevin Drum says that since the numbers aren't indexed for inflation, sales actually dropped, which would be "bleak" -- but that doesn't get Barbaro or the NYT off the hook because their story didn't do any indexing. On the other hand, are Christmas goods subject to deflation not inflation?