US Media Distorts Falling Dollar Story


By: Warner Todd Huston

What is it with the MSM and their fetish with worrying so much about everyone but Americans? For the L.A.Times, for instance, even the weakness of our dollar is cause for worrying over how bad it is for… wait for it… foreign companies. While our dollar weakens and could perhaps bring us major economic trouble, the L.A.Times shows serious concern and laments that the soft currency crisis is hurting European companies who are finding their prices rising because of our falling dollar. The Times is all upset that foreigners are losing profits, but there isn’t a word in its story about what it might do to Americans, befitting its general disinterest in America and perfectly reflecting its heightened concern for foreigners. Worse, the tone of this article serves only to make America look like the bad guy once again, like it’s our fault that the falling dollar is hurting those poor, innocent Europeans.

Amusingly, the Times starts out by giving us the worries of high fashion industry leader Yves Saint Laurent as the company tries to figure out how many pockets to remove from its next line of clothing so that the company can save materials and bring down costs. As if this sort of worrying over haute couture is something that will alarm its readers, the Times sonorously reports the fashion giant’s worries.

PARIS — At Yves Saint Laurent, the storied French design house that manufactures exclusively in Europe, the plunging value of the U.S. dollar has Chief Executive Valerie Hermann thinking about the number of pockets on a skirt and the price of embroidery on a dress.

Yeah, I’m cryin’ over their troubles. And so is every average American… all broken up that a company that caters to the nouveau riche has to remove a pocket from their latest frock that only a tiny segment of the world can afford in the first place. Way to connect with the readers, L.A. Times!

After that clueless opener, the Times goes on to worry over the rising worth of the euro in comparison to the falling dollar.

The euro’s rise and dollar’s slide are squeezing European exporters’ profits or multiplying their losses, prompting layoffs and plant closings. Companies are not only curbing production of goods headed to U.S. buyers but also rethinking the way they do business.

Those poor, poor European exporters.

I noticed that the tone of this report is all dark for the Europeans but somehow doesn’t seem to report how good the falling dollar might be for Americans, nor does it discuss where it might be bad. We do get an oblique reference to a good effect in the discussion of the Airplane maker Airbus’ troubles.

With a falling dollar making Boeing’s products cheaper outside the U.S. and Airbus’ more expensive, Louis Gallois, chief executive of Airbus’ parent EADS, recently described the sinking U.S. currency as a “sword of Damocles” hanging over the company’s future. He vowed to cut an additional 1 billion euros in operating costs by 2010 or 2011.

It IS a good thing that our products are becoming affordable at last, after all.

Still, the focus of this story is all woe for the Europeans without any corresponding discussion for American outlooks. It makes one wonder who this American newspaper is writing their article for?

Less dramatic but no less crucial is the impact on other European companies that export sophisticated equipment, technology, cosmetics, cars and luxury goods. For firms that make a large portion of their sales in the United States or compete with firms that deal in dollars, survival depends on raising prices, cutting costs or hedging currencies.

There are major parts of this story that the Times does not write about here as they focus on worry for Europeans. But, there are some things that could be good for the USA with the falling dollar here and the Times doesn’t mention it.

One benefit of the softer dollar is that we might find foreign tourism increase as our lower dollar makes foreign visitor’s vacation funds go farther. But a falling dollar can also be good for our trade deficit. One of the reasons that American exports had faced troubles in the past is that they were just too expensive for overseas consumers. Well, if we have a falling dollar, that will certainly make our products more attractive to overseas markets, to be sure. The same softer dollar could also begin to cause our own corporations to reverse their past trend toward offshoring our jobs. After all, with prices rising elsewhere, it will become fiscally easier to keep those jobs here instead of moving them offshore.

It should be noted that American exports have been making a slow but steady climb of late. This is most likely due to the dollar’s softening making our products more in reach for foreign customers. For instance, our trade deficit was $13 Billion up until July but after September, that number went down to $6.4 Billion. (You can view US export info at export.gov, and here is one from the Census Bureau for more info.) So, it isn’t necessarily all bad news here.

Still, a falling dollar is not all honey and roses, either. If you have investments in foreign companies, those investments will take a hit, not to mention if you should want to vacation outside the country you’ll get hit with higher prices there. Even more, a falling national currency is a reflection of certain troubles befalling a country, so this isn’t all great news.

I’ll not claim to be an economic expert, but we didn’t get any help to unravel the situation from the Times. There is far more to this story than the woe the Times sees for European companies, not that any of these points grace the Times’ analysis of the situation.

In any case, the Times seems far more interested in what our dollar is doing to foreign companies’ fortunes than it is about what it might be doing to us. Is the Times writing for the edification of Europe, or writing for an American audience?

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