Every malady does one of three things if left untreated:
1. It gets better.
2. It stays the same.
3. It gets worse.
After trying any bogus treatment, one of three things will happen.
1. It'll get better.
2. It'll stay the same.
3. It'll get worse.
As long as you have a spiel for each of these three eventualities, you can be a healer that some people will believe in:
1. "See I told you."
2. "We arrested it."
3. "I guess we need more of it."
Because everyone wants hope and it's easy to explain any course an affliction may take, there are many many cures that people believe in.
The financial reporting around the recent $700 billion bailout reminds me of this. Back before the first vote, the stock market went up a bit, and CNN.com reported that this was because of anticipation of a bailout being passed. Then the House rejected it, the stock market went down, and CNN.com said it was because the bailout didn't pass. Then the market went back up again, so CNN.com said it was because in anticipation of the Senate passing the bill. Then the Senate passed the bailout, and the stock market went back down, so CNN.com said it was because of fears the bailout wouldn't pass the House again. Then the House passed the bailout, but the stock market still went down, so Friday and today CNN.com says it went down despite the bailout.
No matter what the market does, they are apparently incapable of interpreting it in any way that fails to support Bailout = Good.
Over the next few weeks/months/years, I expect to see any/all of the following reported, depending on what the market actually does:
1. "See, the bailout worked!"
2. "See, the bailout stopped the market's downward plunge!"
3. "Alas, the bailout didn't go far enough."
Things I Learned From Watching Turistas