August 25, 2004

Bloomberg News

...To: DELONG@econ.Berkeley.EDU
Subject: Bloomberg Television Interview on Wednesday, August 25
Date: Tue, 24 Aug 2004 18:02:56 -0400 Status:

Dear Professor DeLong,

We are confirmed for a live 5-minute interview on Bloomberg Television on Wednesday, August 25 at 2:47PM ET (11:47AM PACIFIC TIME).... [W]e are all set to do the interview from UC Berkeley's studio. Mike McKee is the anchor of the show called "Money and Politics," and he will be doing the interview from our New York studio.

Thank you...


> Hi Professor Delong,
>
> I realize I've asked a lot of questions below.
> I need just a few comments. No
> need  to go to great length in answering them.
>
> Thank you....

> (1) You have been critical of the Bush
> administration's handling of the U.S.
> economy? In which areas of the economy
> has President Bush failed, and what should
> the economic policy be for the next president?

Two big failures--

the long-term deficit mess, unbalancing the long-run finances of the American government. Very bad.

Failing to "buy insurance" against poor employment performance through a properly-crafted fiscal stimulus. Bad.

>
> (2) GDP numbers for the second quarter
> come out Friday, August 27. Economists
> surveyed by Bloomberg News expect the
> annualized numbers to come in at 2.7%. Is
> this in line with your forecast?

Yes. At this point the second quarter revisions are pretty clear...

>
> (3) President Bush's new federal rules
> for overtime pay went into effect
> yesterday.

Andrew Samwick, who just left the CEA for Dartmouth, has been arguing that we really don't know what the impact of the overtime rules will be--and that the Labor Department has fallen down on the job by failing to gather the information that would allow us to know. So this seems a leap in the dark...

>Given this, the latest unemployment
> numbers, and the growing budget
> and trade deficits, what's your
> forecast for the U.S. economy?
>

In the short run, more of the same: reasonably good output news, excellent productivity news, lousy employment news.

In the long run--both the current-account deficit and the budget deficit are big problems when the long run finally arrives. When will it arrive? Ah--figuring out that is something that we economists are no good at...


And then, of course, Mike McKee wanted to talk about something else: Why I think that a Kerry administration would do a better job of handling the budget deficit than another Bush administration.

As I tried to say on the spot, there are three reasons to think that a Kerry administration would do a better job than a Bush administration on the budget deficit:

  1. The Bush administration always does much worse than you anticipate, no matter how low your expectations are.

  2. Kerry is committed to restoring the institutional framework of budget discipline--the Budget Enforcement Act, caps, sequesters, standby tax-increases, et cetera--and Bush is not. Under Bush, budget policy has been that Congress will vote Bush his shifts of taxes from today's rich to tomorrow's middle class if Bush won't object to Congress's spending increases. The BEA and the rest of the institutional framework were very effective in the 1990s when we had a president who actually cared about making good economic policy.

  3. The Kerry economic policy team--the "Magnificent Seven" of Roger Altman, Bob Rubin, Gene Sperling (who I hear is getting married this weekend: mazeltov), Laura Tyson, Alan Blinder, Sarah Bianchi, and Jason Furman (in the Yul Brynner role)--is a very good one, with enormous overlap with the highly-successful Clinton economic policy team: expect the same quality of policies from the one as we got from the other.

But it was a shock, and I was not nearly so coherent on camera. Plus there's the problem of making sure that your answers are less than 30 seconds long (or else the anchor will interrupt) and of pretending that the camera is an intelligent identity you are trying to talk to (or else you look like an untrustworthy person who can't meet anybody's eye).

The world will be ruled by those who can give 30 second answers and are insane enough to really believe that the camera really is a sentient, intelligent being...

Posted by DeLong at August 25, 2004 03:46 PM | TrackBack
Comments

"The world will be ruled by those who can give 30 second answers and are insane enough to really believe that the camera really is a sentient, intelligent being..."

With a compound eye.

Posted by: Randolph Fritz at August 25, 2004 03:58 PM

"But it was a shock, and I was not nearly so coherent on camera. Plus there's the problem of making sure that your answers are less than 30 seconds long (or else the anchor will interrupt) and of pretending that the camera is an intelligent identity you are trying to talk to (or else you look like an untrustworthy person who can't meet anybody's eye)."

Krugman has trouble with that.

When he's listening to a question, he looks sort of blank-featured and catatonic.

At least, he did the last time I saw him on TV. Before he answered the first question, I wondered if he'd gone tharn
and wouldn't answer at all.

Unfortunate.

Posted by: Jon H at August 25, 2004 04:04 PM

Maybe I've been jaded watching the likes of Hannity and O'Reilly (love the fact that Krugman put the Russert interview on his archives for all of us to review) but their changing the query is not as bad as what would have happened had this been a FNC interview. But if Bloomberg is going to take the time to discuss the issues via email ahead of time (what a great idea) so one can prepare, it would have been nice had they stuck to the original plan. Is there a way we can see the interview online?

Posted by: Harold McClure at August 25, 2004 04:10 PM

"The world will be ruled by those who can give 30 second answers and are insane enough to really believe that the camera really is a sentient, intelligent being..."

My God, you've just explained the popularity of Fox News...

Posted by: Brad Reed at August 25, 2004 04:18 PM

Jeebus! Get some damn media training. Buy a damn cheap video camera and cheap tripod. Set it up. Look at it. Make your point. Look at the tape. Are you shifty? Try again. Are you too complicated? Do it again quicker. Get a nice blue tie without thin stripes. It's not that damn hard.

Get over your damn fear. This has nothing to do with to do with insanity. Do you stammer when you talk on the phone? Do you treat it as bizarre electro-acoustical-transmitting device. No it's a damn phone. It has to do with anxiousness.

This isn't the first time, Brad.
http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2004_archives/001128.html

Sorry, to be so personal, but Democrats can't be learning how to play the game in the ninth inning.

Posted by: KevinNYC at August 25, 2004 04:19 PM

Media training's the thing Brad.

I once had a local site manager for our big Fortune 500 company who looked like an absolute goon when interviewed on camera. Shifty eyed, looked off in the distance when asked a question, poor posture. He was (and is) a very good engineer by training and quite personable, but it just hurt to watch him.

Anyway, he went off for a week or so for intensive media training and the next time I saw him interviewed he put a whole new face on the company. His intelligence showed through and he even looked "cleaner" somehow.

Posted by: Steve at August 25, 2004 04:34 PM

You need to call Errol Morris and borrow his Interrotron:

http://www.movienet.com/fogofwar.html

Posted by: Steve Hall at August 25, 2004 04:36 PM

Brad: "The world will be ruled by those who can give 30 second answers and are insane enough to really believe that the camera really is a sentient, intelligent being..."

While recording a collection of video clips on technical topics for an experimental Web site many years ago, the thing that I found hardest was to do it more than once. When you stumble over a word or phrase, or draw a blank, or go "Uuuuummm" and have to try again. I learned to do it, but I have a great deal more respect for people who can hit their mark and recite the line(s) and sound like they're really interested in the subject on the 13th take.

An acquaintance who worked as an actor on television as a child tells me that it's even harder when you're doing it for the 13th time because the other people are the ones who keep messing it up...

Posted by: Michael Cain at August 25, 2004 04:48 PM

soundbytes and quickies is how the Repubs have been winning any debate - all the debates! The biggest Reagan Legacy is that Republican Presidents can say dumb things, as long as they are medium clever sayings.
Kerry was a disaster on The Daily Show. I fear for him in the debates. I mean, I clung to the TV, listening for everything, and he was pointless, rambling, flat and flat out boring!
I think we need to have stories, not necessarily real, but inherently true metaphors - OOPS! not metaphors 'cause Republicans don't understand metaphors! See! Inherently true stories.
Why do I never hear stories of a third generation of decrepit dynasty slackers that will own America, if we repeal the inheritance tax? Let's tell stories that resonate - and when they resonate, they will be told well!

Posted by: RWC at August 25, 2004 05:02 PM

Bring a picture of a loved one and put it on top of the camera.

Posted by: KevinNYC at August 25, 2004 05:03 PM

RWC, Kerry was fine. The Daily Show is not the place for policy. Kerry's job was to show he was relaxed, personnable, has a sense of humor and doesn't resemble at all the caricatures that the Republicans have of him. Kerry did all this fabuously.

His talking points are a bit long though. He should make three points and stop. He tends to go for five or even six. It messes up the rhythm. Comedians know this. The classic rhythm is three.

Posted by: KevinNYC at August 25, 2004 05:10 PM

Brad, Berkeley certainly has at least a few groups which could do basic media training:

1) B-school, in career counseling (interviews).
2) Dept of Communications, or the equivalent.
3) B-School, executive education.
4) Film/Theater department.
5) Multimedia groups (ask the library).

Posted by: Barry at August 25, 2004 05:16 PM

soundbytes and quickies

Two years ago when I still had a job I referred to that as the MTV generation. Kids today get their information in 30 second sound bites and so that is how we have to structure our information. No context, just the info they need. Non linear thought now dominates.

Posted by: me at August 25, 2004 05:39 PM

I am going to teach a first year modern world history course using pictures, graphs and maps not just as my accompaniment but as my lecture notes. I have had some nice non-linear thoughts while assembling these images into Power Point presentations (without any bulleted text, that is the way of Satan!).

Posted by: sm at August 25, 2004 06:05 PM


1. I wonder if we're raising a generation of kids for whom being on camera is nothing special.

2. Trust me, Kerry was terrible on the Daily Show. He looked like there was some teen making minimum wage inside him, moving the costume around.

Posted by: Chris Marcil at August 25, 2004 06:23 PM

Well, if it makes you feel any better, Eugene Volokh didn't sound very good at all on his Air America debate on gun control (although part of that was obviously by design of the hosts).

Posted by: fling93 at August 25, 2004 06:24 PM

KevinNYC is right, Prof: Your term "insanity" is simply denial. Your mastery of economics is unquestioned. You now need to admit that talking in front of a camera is also a skill, and you didn't practice.

I see the facetiousness in your post, but KevinNYC and I need to scold you. As others have pointed out, progressives get PASTED for this, year after year. I'm just as tired of it as he is. We can complain or learn -- it's not too late to change your mind.

Posted by: Dragonchild at August 25, 2004 06:32 PM

"The world will be ruled by those who can give 30 second answers and are insane enough to really believe that the camera really is a sentient, intelligent being..."

No. That's the easy part. The hard part is giving 30 second answers while pretending that the camera isn't a space alien that wants to lay its eggs in your grey matter.

Oh, that isn't a problem for you? Never mind.

Posted by: s9 at August 25, 2004 06:40 PM

I believe that Bob Rubin's book has some grafs on this very issue.

Ah, here - pp. 138-41.

Posted by: Calboy at August 25, 2004 06:43 PM

Seriously, why would someone assume that Republicans get good press. It's a liberal dominated media. Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh are probably the biggest names in Republican press,yet almost all media is slanted strongly against the right wing.

Posted by: bill at August 25, 2004 07:23 PM

I agree with KevinNYC and Dragonchild. Our spokespeople, like you, have to learn to say what needs to be said in a few words. Think of it as posting a reply comment to a troll. KISS!

Posted by: masaccio at August 25, 2004 07:44 PM

They are telling me that success in corporate america is some 70% correlated with the ability to present well and deliver public messages effectively in visual media. "They" were people selling media and presentation training, but I suspect they were right anyway.

Posted by: Jason Ligon at August 25, 2004 07:58 PM

My success in my former career was based largely on the fact that I present myself well. My new career after grad school seems to be going the same way [it helps that I'm...I'm...um...middle-aged].

My dad was a lobbyist and lesson # 2 or 3 was always present yourself well, always, in any situation.

D

Posted by: Dano at August 25, 2004 08:03 PM

"My dad was a lobbyist and lesson # 2 or 3 was always present yourself well, always, in any situation."

Now I gotta ask: What was lesson #1?

Wait, now I'm scared to find out. . .

Posted by: Dragonchild at August 25, 2004 11:42 PM

Severin Borenstein could give you some tips... I think he's on tv more often than Ken Macha.

Posted by: ogmb at August 26, 2004 12:09 AM

Not that I'm great on camera, but if you have to do another spot before you get training, get in front of a mirror. Find a couple of expressions that are tolerable for staring into the camera. Practice them till they won't distract you, 'cause if they distract you, people will notice.

One other thing, which may allow you to unknit your brow just a smidge. At least of few of your viewers will see your smiling face doing absolutely nothing at all - a snapshot on the Bloomberg box, while your message is delivered in radio form. In this case, the snapshot isn't bad (OK, you weren't smiling), so don't worry.

Ya know what, to me, was the most noticable stumble in your performance? You were asked to condemn a Republican controlled Congress for being unwilling to reinstitute paygo rules, and you hesitated. Maybe that was noticable to me because I knew I'd hesitate there, too.

Posted by: kharris at August 26, 2004 04:54 AM

I liked the way Prof.'s eyes shifted back 5 or 6 times before you could answer the question of whether or not Kerry's budget was realistic. It made you look very nuanced.

Posted by: brian at August 26, 2004 07:07 AM

Here is why all you passionate partisans need to listen to me...

Putting aside my customary reticence, it has become obvious to me that I am one of the very few people in the blogosphere who can tell the difference between a hamburger and the picture of the hamburger on the menu.

I say this even though I never graduated from college and most of you guys probably have; some from elite universities even. I suggest that you are more indoctrinated than educated, except, perhaps, for those of you trained in real science. The rest of you expensively schooled wonders are almost totally ignorant of the real world. Theories and models are not the real world although they may look like it to a greater or lesser degree (like the picture of the hamburger).

The problem is that you can only see what you’re looking at. That is to say, for example, if you ignore the evils done by Saddam Hussein then, of course, the Iraq War is wrong. To people who do give consideration and moral weight to the actions of Saddam Hussein the war is a moral imperative.

It all comes down to the inherent structures and limitations of human understanding. Besides being unable to include what we don’t know and, what we don’t know we don’t know, in our theories and models; what we do know will look different from different points of view.

This is why my attempt to understand the real world and its’ politics has brought me to establish the Public Enquiry Project to encourage debate and enquiry between the Left and the Right. This is not a neutral site because I know I’m a Righty, but rather my attempt to encourage dialog between Righties like me and Lefties. I must confess, however, that I’m a bit disappointed by the dearth of intelligent enquiry and the plethora of knee jerk insults from both sides.

I invite you guys who consider yourselves to be knowledgeable to try and approach my highly evolved level by engaging in respectful bipartisan enquiry into how to best manage the problems of the day. A good start would be to go to the superb article by Brad Delong promoting Kerry’s health plan and the lucent defense of the same by Marc Brazeau.

http://pep.typepad.com/public_enquiry_project/2004/08/prof_brad_delon.html

As a Righty, I believe that there are elements of this plan that have a lot of value. If George Bush wins as I hope and expect, I’d like to see his administration consider the brilliant GOVERNMENT AS REINSUROR part of Kerry’s plan.

I ask, even plead, to have a knowledgeable Republican respond to the points made by Delong and Brazeau. My Conservative friends please realize that even Lefties sometimes have good ideas.

Adrian Spidle

http://pep.typepad.com/public_enquiry_project/2004/08/here_is_why_all.html


Posted by: Adrian Spidle at August 26, 2004 07:31 AM

What I love about Adrian is that he's so succinct...

Posted by: Jon at August 26, 2004 07:49 AM

Even if he isn't succinct, at least Adrian aims high: http://www.churchofthemodernera.org/

"Welcome to the theology of the modern era that will show you how humans will create God with the technology of the future. And, it will also show you how God will use that technology to provide perfect justice and everlasting life to us, our ancestors and descendents. Get ready to travel beyond that nar-row sliver of space-time that your intuition can easily grasp."

Is that a hamburger, or is it a picture of a hamburger? I can't tell.

Posted by: Jon at August 26, 2004 08:07 AM

Now, that's forward looking! :-] Where's the part where godly giant mutans beam aliens to pieces? Okay, I think it's clear we should all pay a bit more attention to what Adrian writes.

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns at August 26, 2004 08:21 AM

I poop too much and it makes me tired.

Posted by: Adrian Spidle at August 26, 2004 08:34 AM

Maxspeak hs a good response to Delong today:

http://maxspeak.org/mt/archives/000727.html

Posted by: mac at August 26, 2004 10:10 AM

I thought Kerry did fine on the Daily Show. Relaxed. Smiling. Showed a little personality.

I can't imagine that I would be able to look good in front of a camera or explain a complex idea in 30 seconds. However, when I ran a hospital committee of doctors I did learn to keep things succinct, or lose their attention.


Posted by: JWC at August 26, 2004 10:25 AM

I thought Kerry did fine on the Daily Show. Relaxed. Smiling. Showed a little personality.

I can't imagine that I would be able to look good in front of a camera or explain a complex idea in 30 seconds. However, when I ran a hospital committee of doctors I did learn to keep things succinct, or lose their attention.


Posted by: JWC at August 26, 2004 10:25 AM

"Okay, I think it's clear we should all pay a bit more attention to what Adrian writes."

Only if he caps the word count at, say, 75.

Posted by: Jon at August 26, 2004 10:41 AM

Not being able to instantly produce your best analysis or make a persuasive argument without first thinking is not necessarily a bad sign. Of course, it may not make you the best spokesperson for Kerry's economic policy.

Consider the following:
"In The Making of the President, Theodore H. White complained that television had dumbed down the issues by forcing the candidates to respond to questions instantaneously. ‘Neither man could pause to indulge in slow reflection and rumination, the slow questioning of alternatives before decision that is the inner quality of leadership.’"
“Masters of the Matrix” by Louis Menard in The New Yorker magazine, January 5, 2004.

Posted by: Mary economist at August 26, 2004 11:56 AM

I've been reading this blog too long. I recognized Adrian's post after the 1st paragraph - need to be quicker with the PgDn key.

Posted by: peBird at August 26, 2004 12:10 PM

you need to be able to say something like Stephen Moore:

1. tax-cut
2. ???
3. Growth!

... in one sentence. Must use sound-bites.

Television is for people who can not keep up a coherent thought for longer than 30 sec.

https://www.cei.org/gencon/005,02120.cfm
http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0301/13/cf.00.html

Posted by: MarcinGomulka at August 28, 2004 07:46 PM