Economic Earthquake – Why Didn’t Experts Forsee It?

Once at a party in LA, a party held soon after the Northridge earthquake, I had an epiphany about seismologists one I shared boldly, and loudly, with the other partygoers.

Seismologists are worthless BEFORE an earthquake oh, don’t get me wrong, they try hard, but seismologists just can’t give exact predictions of earthquakes – for a lot of reasons but basically because earthquakes are completely unpredictable.

Oh they can give you a general earthquake forecast – BUT SO CAN I!

I got an elbow in the side from the host of the party. She introduced me to several of the party guests that were managing to enjoy their cocktails in spite of my incessant ranting.

The guests happened to be seismologists from Caltech.

They laughed we all laughed. And then the scientists told me that I pretty much had it right

It’s after an earthquake, that’s when the seismologists get it done. They gather the data from their seismographs and other instruments… Pin point the quake and quickly figure out its magnitude they catalog, cross reference, just “go off” running the numbers

The big thing I learned that night is that these scientists do is create seismic hazard maps that that show earthquake probability curves for planners and builders.

So actually seismologists aren’t as worthless as I had previously thought.

If you’re in California after an earthquake watch television for a few minutes and you are going to see Dr. Kate Hutton, the Earthquake Lady. She’s a staff seismologist at Caltech in Pasadena and she’s cool. She comes on your TV, explains exactly what’s happening and instantly calms your nerves.

So – Where is the “Kate Hutton” for our economy?

Don’t we deserve a recession “point person.” Where is our Dr. Recession?

It’s not Jim Cramer, that’s for sure just ask John Stewart.

I mean aren’t we experiencing a global financial earthquake?

Haven’t the economists been out gathering the data from their instruments and economic seismographs?

Can’t economists put their heads together and come up with an economic hazard map?

Isn’t it time for that one cool economist spokesperson to show up, completely explain the situation and at least attempt to calm our nerves?

The 2008 winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics is Paul Krugman you may know him from his columns in the New York Times. He has written a great book, at least I think it’s a great book, called “The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008″ which I don’t think will ever be properly recognized because the book he wrote right after is called “The Conscience of a Liberal.”

Take a look at the last 2 or 3 presidential elections and it’s clear that half of all voting Americans really don’t want to hear anything from a “Liberal” – so I feel certain that corporate media outlets aren’t going to give Paul Krugman the chance to be our Dr. Recession Nobel Prize or not.

You know, the thing is – if you read about the Great Depression – most economists really don’t agree on what started it or what ended it.


I wonder if Dr. Kate the Earthquake Lady knows anything about economics?

For WOSU Public Media, this is Michael Ivey.