Corporatizing the Culture: Economic Metrics
Just a note for something I've been meaning to post for a while.
There's lots of news items now about how the Dow is cracking 12,000 and it's a record high, which is true. Many in left blogostan point out that means we're now just coming out of a six year slump (or in the case of the Nasdaq, still trying to claw our way back) which is also true.
Something I've heard very few people remark about is how stock indexes are totally shitty as a lone indicator of how "good" the economy is doing. Basically, it's the corporate equivalent to counting up the value of all your baseball cards.
Why isn't this a terribly good metric? Well, for one, it's a fantasy yardstick, entirely based on perceeved value. For two, it's relation to real wealth (how good folks are doing) only connects at the top end of the income spectrum. High stock values mean good ROI for your investment portfoloio. Oh, you don't have a portfolio? Funny, neither do I.
Which isn't to say that the DOW is meaningless, but as compared to, say, average wages, aggreagate totals of things produced, bought, sold, and mean/median household income, it's not terrifically indicative on how the economy is for American citizens.
This is one of the reasons I'm confused that Democrats don't hit back on the Bush/GOP line that "the economy is thriving." Stocks are up, yeah, but what the fuck does that really mean in terms of the kitchen table economy? Increasingly, not very much.