On the Rarified Fringe of the Financial Media Trail with Blodget and EPI

In the great unraveling of the Internet bubble in the year 2000, the rise and fall of Henry Blodget was among the biggest, gossipy’est, schedenfreude’iest stories of all.

In 2003, under allegations of publicly touting the very same high-flying Internet stocks that he was simultaneously selling for his own account, Henry was permanently barred from the securities industry and fined $4 million.

Today he is, among other things, a talking head on Yahoo Finance and a writer and apparent principal of Business Insider (being banned from the securities industry precludes you from certain sorts of employment and certain ways of being paid — e.g. you cannot be employed/paid as a stock broker and you cannot be employed/paid as an investment adviser, etc, but you can be paid for punditry that for all intents and purposes looks and feels quite similar to what stock brokers and investment advisers do all day long when talking to customers and clients).

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I bring this up because today I read a piece by Henry in Business Insider entitled HEY, AMERICA: Check Out How 90% Of Us Have Gotten Shafted Over The Past 30 Years…, the money quote of which is this:

From 1981-2008, average incomes grew by a healthy $12,000. But a shocking 96% of that growth went to the richest 10% of the country. Only 4% of it went to the other 90%


Henry based that assessment, and the entire article, for that matter, on an interactive tool at the Economic Policy Institute.

Hmmm . . . I thought to myself, Henry has waded into the deeply political, and not on the usual side the Financial Services Media Complex (the FSMC) takes, which, after all, is unusually uniformly of the lower taxes/reduced regulations/set business free ilk. See Larry Kudlow‘s blog (no permalink needed; any piece will do) for Exhibit A.

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So then I went to the horse’s mouth, which in this case is the Economic Policy Institute, which notes on its About page that,

EPI was the first — and remains the premier — think tank to focus on the economic condition of low- and middle-income Americans and their families. Its encyclopedic State of Working America, published 11 times since 1988, and now for the first time in complete electronic form as well, is stocked in university libraries around the world.


Seeing that phrase about low- and middle-income Americans, I just had to do a Google search of “EPI liberal” (well, actually I did a Google search of “EPI livberal” but that handiest of all Google tweaks helped me out) and, lo’ and behold, the second item had this as a title:

How to Identify Liberal Media Bias — Media Research Center

and contained this paragraph:

According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), more than half of America’s new wealth went to the richest one-half of one percent of families,” explained Rather. . . . But EPI is hardly independent. It was founded by Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich and Jeff Faux, a former aide to Michael Dukakis.


That, as best I could tell, is EPI’s true claim to infame according to those who see it as biased: it was founded by Dems. I’d be curious to hear the argument about how EPI’s data were wrong. Now *that* would be interesting. Telling me who founded the data-publisher is an interesting fact, but it says nothing abut the validity or the reliability of the data. And if the best argument is that the database in question is housed within an entity that was founded by Dems, then my critical thinking mind says that’s not much of an argument; what else ya got?

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My hats off to Henry and EPI for trying to bring information to bear on the collective economic situation within which we all find ourselves, bobbing like corks in the ocean. I’d be very interested to see someone of a different political persuasion make the opposite case. However, when I type into Google economic policy institute data is wrong I come up dry.

The fall back position, though, is alive and well. When I type into Google income inequality is, Google’s first auto-fill is, greatest in which of the following countries (according to the OECD, among developed countries, the US has the fourth greatest income inequality, with Chile, Mexico and Turkey surpassing our inequality), while the second is blank, and the third and the fourth are good and not a problem, as in income inequality is not a problem.


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