The consumption boom and how he told it…

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It’s a challenge that every reporter assigned to cover the economy has to face: how to write about an irreducibly complex topic without either dumbing the story down or sending the reader into a boredom-induced catatonic comma. Jens Gould demonstrates how it can be done well in this piece in yesterday’s New York Times:

With oil revenue flowing into its coffers, the government is spending like never before on social development programs that free up cash for the poor by providing free education and health care and cheap food. Wage increases and infrastructure projects also fill the economy with money that filters down to Venezuelans’ pockets. As a result, consumers are buying more each year, helping Venezuela post growth that exceeded 9 percent last year and in the first quarter of 2006.

But economists here and abroad say that such rosy indicators are part of an artificial economic boom that could later hurt the country; the spending spree, they say, is masking the fundamental limitations of an economy propped up by spending, but failing to generate enough new private investment to sustain longer-term growth and job creation.

It’s worth reading the whole thing. The only thing I would’ve done differently is that I would’ve leaned on the we’ve-been-here-before-angle more – cuz the current boomlet is such a 1975 redux it makes you weep. On the other hand, I my reporting probably wouldn’t have been as good…

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