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Econospinning: How to Read Between the Lines When the Media Manipulate the Numbers



"We know that economists are dismal scientists, but scientists nevertheless. This book casts doubt about the science of economic journalism by showing that it's often politically biased, superficial, and inconsistent with facts. An important book."
—Baruch Lev, Philip Bardes Professor of Accounting and Finance, New York University Stern School of Business

"Econospinning shines the spotlight on how economic data are chronically misreported by journalists and manipulated by political pundits. Epstein raises the bar in how to think about and interpret economic statistics."
—Bill Dudley, Advisory Director, The Goldman Sachs Group

"Bull markets in bad economic ideas are a lot like bubbles in financial assets—it takes just the right mixture of the cynical and the credulous to produce really extreme outcomes. And, as with asset bubbles, the sooner bad ideas are deflated, the less damage they do. Gene Epstein's clear-eyed analysis in Econospinning is a timely corrective for many of the flawed notions that have made their way into circulation in recent years."
—Lou Crandall, Chief Economist, Wrightson ICAP

"A shocking and provocative book. Econospinning shows how the brightest and most credentialed economists—from Krugman in the Times to bestselling author Steven Levitt—abuse data, and in rather blatant ways at that."
—Amar Bhidé, Lawrence D. Glaubinger Professor of Business Columbia University Graduate School of Business

"Gene Epstein preaches that a statistic is not how it's labeled; it's how it's collected. Beware the intersection of an emotionally evocative label and a spuriously precise number."
—Neal Soss, Managing Director, Credit Suisse

"Gene Epstein's book will raise journalistic standards and cause readers everywhere to mind the news with more care. Paul Krugman has now met his match."
—Kent Smetters, Associate Professor of Insurance and Risk Management, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

GENE EPSTEIN has been Barron's Economics Editor since 1993 and writes the column, "Economic Beat." A frequent speaker on the conference circuit, Epstein has appeared on CNBC, CNN, NJN Public TV, and BBC TV. He is a former senior economist at the New York Stock Exchange and has taught economics at St. John's University and the City University of New York. He holds an MA in economics from The New School and a BA from Brandeis University.


Chapter 1: Eldercare Fraud.

Chapter 2: Two Ways to Measure Employment.

Chapter 3: Bush League Economics.

Chapter 4: Long-Term Unemployment Myths.

Chapter 5: The Case of the Phantom Dropouts.

Chapter 6: Participation Rate Follies.

Chapter 7: What Does the Employment-Population Ratio Tell Us?

Chapter 8: May Average Hourly Earnings Rest in Peace.

Chapter 9: Hourly Compensation and the Unemployment Rate.

Chapter 10: Wages and Productivity.

Chapter 11: The Record Profit Boom That Never Happened.

Chapter 12: End the Monthly Madness: The Change in Payroll Employment Data.

Chapter 13: End the Monthly Madness: The Unemployment Rate.

Chapter 14: Greenspan Idolatry.

Chapter 15: Best-Selling Myths: Freakonomics.

Chapter 16:Best-Selling Myths: Nickel and Dimed.

Chapter 17: Dobbs and Jobs.