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'Recession' - banned?

Jeremy Hillman Jeremy Hillman | 11:50 UK time, Friday, 24 October 2008

Following on from my blog yesterday on why we weren't going to brand our economy day "The Recession" the Daily Telegraph has got very exercised this morning by our position with a news piece and a leader article. The suggestion in the leader that the word recession won't be found on any BBC reporters' lips today is misplaced.

The UK is more than likely heading for a recession - both the prime minister and the governor of the Bank of the England agree - and you'll hear that a lot in every BBC report today.

As viewers and listeners know we've been using the "R" word all week and for several months. It's ironic that just a few weeks ago some were criticising the BBC for being too pessimistic and "talking the economy down", and some still are.

As we all know in this business it's sometimes possible to get details wrong when you're on deadline, so I take no offence at the Telegraph calling me Hill rather than Hillman.


  • Comment number 1.

    The BBC's treatment of the recession is OUTRAGEOUS. You've even paid some ad agency to create a special "Downturn" logo for it. You're loving it - just like some gutter tabloid. You're supposed to be Britain's national broadcaster and are funded by a tax, so a bit of sobriety would be welcome. Please act a bit less like a pathetic redtop rag trying to boost its sales and a bit more like a serious national broadcaster.

  • Comment number 2.

    well if reporting doom and gloom is a crime then all aspects of media are guilty, too many people read too much into what they see ,read or hear they are at fault for helping to create this spiral of further stories of doom and gloom.
    reporters should repost the news good or bad thats a must.
    bur editors shouldnt be entitled to politicise any story becouse of there beliefs or alignments.
    not a single person can critisise honest neutral reporting.
    and with todays polititians playing to the media its more important to be neutral so the public gets an honest idea of events and can thus make an informed opinion of the news.
    this the bbc should be a world leader in and the bbc should not become a pupet to any government good or bad.

  • Comment number 3.

    Aunty Beeb is not going to win on this one - either way.

    Best she sucks her teeth and suffers in silence. Until the upturn.

  • Comment number 4.

    Well between the Telegraph and Adam_C_UK #1 it seems you`re dammed if you do and dammed if you don`t.

    Interestingly The Telegraph`s website main headline today is: `Sterling plunges as official figures show UK is on its way to recession`. (The Times has: `Shares plunge as UK stands on brink of recession.`)
    So according to them the UK isn`t in a yet in a recession. I trust they`ll let us know when it officially begins.

  • Comment number 5.

    two things:
    1. every day seems to be officially "recession day"

    every different day i watch news 24 someone says "we are officially in a recession"..

    so who's going to actually confirm it? god?

    just heard cameron say it....well isn't he in touch eh? (and by the way why are the conservatives slamming policies that they have always embraced...
    cant make out who labour and conservatives are any more)

    2. i have to say, when bbc24 does its business seems that the commentator (that australian chap) wants to lead their interviewee into saying its "really bad"....that kind of drama isnt necessary...what are we? stooopid?
    (by the way i love that aussie lad...he's great!!)

  • Comment number 6.

    Adam_C_UK's comment at the top of this list is spot on!

    The BBC has talked us into this recession from the very beginning. If it just reported fact rather than sensationalising we would not have anywhere near the problem.

    Emblazened across the front page of the BBC Website is "Downturn Snapshot: The Day's Events".

    Give us a break and close your mouths!

  • Comment number 7.

    #1 Agreed. These stupid logos are just reinforcing everyones pessimism. The economy contracting by 1% could be reversed if everyone went to the shops on Sat and spent £20 each.

    Peter Jones who's economic track record dwarfs that of any BBC financial expert said as much.

    Of course no one at the BBC is likely to lose their job if theres a recession are they?

  • Comment number 8.

    Might have to do a live digital word count on the BBC News and Telegraph sites to see who is using which word the most.

    In the meantime... here is a useful graph,+downturn&ctab=0&geo=GB&geor=all&date=all&sort=0

  • Comment number 9.

    Might have to do a live digital word count on the BBC News and Telegraph sites to see who is using which word the most.

    In the meantime look at and type in "recession, downturn"

  • Comment number 10.

    The fact that substantial bbc management time is now spent denying pro labour bbc bias is noted.

    "The lady doth protest too much, methinks "

    Hamlet, Act 3, scene 2

  • Comment number 11.

    Emotive comments being used by the media are designed to sensationalise issues and ultimatley improve their own revenues (it also aids the left-wing political agendas of the owners of the media empires). What it ends up doing is instilling fear and panic in the general public. Most of the public are not well informed, scare easily, and are heavily influenced by the media. Ultimately it is the public that drive the economy, so when they get scared and stop spending money, recession easily becomes a self-fulfulling prophecy. Let's get away from all the doom and gloom-sayers and start portraying positive messages - the media can have huge powers - please use them for good!

  • Comment number 12.

    Those poor folks out there in the real world suffering unemployment house repossession and god knows what else need to have the state of the country debated honestly.

    They should not feel on their own and think they are total failures. They are not.

    They have only been first in the queue for what will become a normal event in the coming months.

    Anyone so niaive to think that if you don't talk about something it will go away has much to learn.

    Recession has happened before many times and although most of us have gone through a terrible time things do recover and so do we.

    If anything I think the media reporting on what lay ahead was rather slow and belated.

  • Comment number 13.

    I couldn't quite believe my eyes when I saw that graphic on the bbc of the word Recession in the centre of the screen getting larger and larger until it eventually filled it. Talk about dramatising things. Lets face it doom sells newspapers and increases viewer numbers. It's a shame the bbc can't resist that temptation for drama.

  • Comment number 14.

    A game of football is 2 consecutive halfs of football.

    A game of football does not begin after 2 halfs of football, after 2 halfs of football you know you've had a game.

    A recession is 2 consecutive quarters of negative growth.

    A recession does not begin after 2 quarters of contraction, after 2 quarters of contraction you know you've had a recession. It begins when the contraction begins.

    By continually suggesting that recession is on the way, but not yet here, the BBC is misrepresenting the figures. It is possible that this recession will turn out to be just a 'downturn', but at this moment we have been in recession for 3 months. A downturn does not become a recession if it is maintained, a recession becomes a downturn if it is not maintained.

    Picture, if you will, a graph of a recession that lasts just 6 months, when would the BBC announce the recession has begun...... right at the end. How can that be right?

  • Comment number 15.

    Maybe the BBC could do a little financial experiment and spend a week talking up the economy, with a nice little "Upturn" graphic, so see what effect it really has on the markets.

  • Comment number 16.

    I'd like to know why in other countries news the headlines are all about the falling value of the pound, whereas on our own it's about the 'global meltdown'.
    Is this a method of controlling panic?
    An "Everyone's in the same boat so no need to worry" kind of thing?

  • Comment number 17.

    The original poster has really hit the nail on the head. I'm extremely disappointed that the BBC have dramatised and speculated at every opportunity. Whilst of course the BBC are not responsible for the recession, I strongly feel it is responsible for irresponsible reporting. Robert Peston and Aaron Heslehurst are particularly guilty of scare mongering and need to be brought to heel by the BBC. The BBC used to be a beacon of truth and credibility - sadly it is now as bad as the trashiest daily rag.

  • Comment number 18.

    Can we please have an Economics blog from Hugh Pym or Evan Davis to offset the pessimistic views of Robert Peston.
    The economists also put things in perspective instead of just highlighting the scare stories - as Peston does.
    Seloc, Nottingham

  • Comment number 19.

    Tell a child that he/she will never amount to anything and that child will, in time, come to believe it!
    Keep on feeding us with Recession, Recession, Recession and we will, in time, come to believe it.
    For goodness sake let's stop focussing on the gloomy and look for the good out there - there's plenty of it about, all the media, newsreporters etc have to do is look for it! But then, there's probably no drama in the good news - is there?

    Please, newscasters all, change the diet, it's not rocket science.

  • Comment number 20.

    Another example of the BBC making the news instead of reporting it ; rather like the Osborne Mandelson affair.

  • Comment number 21.

    " A similar "feel-bad factor" may be taking root in the UK and some experts have warned of the dangers of a self-fulfilling prophesy whereby, by making regular comparisons with the mid 1970s and early 1990s, the country TALKS ITS WAY INTO RECESSION. ......! "

    We have been saying this for months ! Media, so called City experts, Bloggers, Irresponsible politicans, reports, bbc etc we all been talking ourselves in to recession !

    Most of the problem, 'lack of confidence' has been caused by the media hype and scary graphics.

    The MEDIA creates the panic....!

    As soon as things seems to look improving, Some idiot comes and with his Doom and gloom and recession reports....!

    If the media stops terrorizing the public, maybe the average consumer may continue with his normal life without fear.


  • Comment number 22.

    I don't think there is any doubt that the BBC News services are loving the downturn - the news presenters with their unconcealed frisson at every downward move of the markets and currency levels and all those ready made news features with eager highly paid interviewers secure in their own affluence desperate to wring out evidence of misfortune from unfortunates drawn the masses - I just hope that you can cope with the uptown when that comes along.

  • Comment number 23.

    i see the mandelson write up has been reported but again no direct way of commenting on his fairy tale, neutrality please give people the chance to say what they feel on all subjects.
    mandelsons statement without comment becomes nearer to fact and that is as bad as peirs morgan doing those M&S adverts stating his opinion is a fact.
    opinions are like belly buttons evey one has one.

  • Comment number 24.

    Excuse me Jeremy, but why is this story using in very big letters the word "downturn", instead of "recession"?

    I think your defence, like many defences made by BBC editors against accusations of bias, is poor. You've been shown up for what you are over the last week - a Labour propoganda channel.

  • Comment number 25.

    I was watching the 10 o'clock News with horror last night. The uncanny view of people on high streets not carrying shopping bags truly horrified me. Also the guy who used to work for Lloyds (for 85K per annum) and now haven't got a job despite applying for over a 100.

    The BBC got me scared alright but also made me feel helpless in the face of the downturn/recession.

    Too much drama, not enough information :(((

  • Comment number 26.

    It's the liberal/lefts mouth peice so what do you expect. The sooner they scrap the unjust BBC TV Licence the better. Don't forget when the TV Licence is scraped the BBC will come back down to earth with a bang!

  • Comment number 27.

    So the Daily Telegraph would rather have its readers keep their heads in the sand and believe that the recession has been caused by pessimistic comment by the BBC and is not the result of incredible blunders made by the managers who run our banks.

    Some of these managers no doubt read the Telegraph. So it is conceivable that more frank and better informed reporting by that journal in the past, might have prevented their errors.

  • Comment number 28.

    Well looks like the anti-Beeb Daily Mail readers are out in force again. For shame.

    "You've even paid some ad agency to create a special "Downturn" logo for it."

    Do you have evidence they paid an ad agency to do that? No didn't think so. I could whip that logo up in 5 minutes on my laptop as I'm sure someone at the BBC did too.

    "The BBC has talked us into this recession from the very beginning. If it just reported fact rather than sensationalizing we would not have anywhere near the problem"

    Nope, the recession was coming already, that's why the stock market has been going down for so long. The people at the stock exchange predicted the coming of the recession (as did most economists and politicians, though nothing as bad as the events happening in September and October was expected on the whole) so they started selling their shares cheaply. Then the BBC started "sensationalizing" (read: reporting objective facts) about the massive falls in the stock markets, Bank bailouts and the like. You people don't seem to realize that this kind of event only happens once a decade at best. This is history in the making. I mean the most right wing US government in a long time just committed the biggest nationalization in history, and it is sensationalism to report this stuff continually??

    "The economy contracting by 1% could be reversed if everyone went to the shops on Sat and spent £20 each."

    The UK population is 60 million, so assuming everyone (including babies) just went and spent £20 today, that would amount to £1.2 billion, which compared to the size of the bailouts and scale of the crisis, is nothing. You are at least three orders of magnitude out I reckon. You are right that confidence and increased spending by the people is needed to help this out, but the whole point of the political discussions is how best to encourage that again? Unemployment is rising, therefore less people can afford to spend money. It also means the government gets less revenue in taxes.

    Keynesianism is the solution. Cut interest rates. Increase public spending to create jobs for those losing their jobs (borrowing would have to rise I'm afraid). Cut taxes for the lower earners so they have more money to spend and shop with. A new New Deal is needed, and one that is green and starts the fightback against global warming: those jobs created could be in the green sector so to speak. The it gets paid back when the next boom comes along.

    "Of course no one at the BBC is likely to lose their job if theres a recession are they?"

    They might do. The BBC does have advertising on its BBC world service, which will be affected I'm sure, and I'm also sure less people will renew their tv license if they can ill afford to pay it. So the BBC may have to cut back to some extent. Here's hoping not though, and that they continue their excellent coverage of the crisis.

    "Picture, if you will, a graph of a recession that lasts just 6 months, when would the BBC announce the recession has begun...... right at the end. How can that be right?"

    Well they can hardly announce it at the beginning can they? They can hypothesize that we might have one at the start, but until there has been 2 quarters of negative growth, they can't say for definite, in which case the BBC would need a time machine to say "We are going into a recession" at the beginning. You don't want much for the license fee do you?

    "Maybe the BBC could do a little financial experiment and spend a week talking up the economy, with a nice little "Upturn" graphic, so see what effect it really has on the markets."

    It would have no effect except for everyone to accuse the BBC of being liars. SInce that is what they would be if they said we were in an "upturn". And the stock market wouldn't be fooled: they aren't morons who just follow the whim of the media when they buy or sell, they have the data that the media uses to make reports at its fingertips. Why do you think they all have computers and have to be quite good mathematicians?

    "Can we please have an Economics blog from Hugh Pym or Evan Davis to offset the pessimistic views of Robert Peston.
    The economists also put things in perspective instead of just highlighting the scare stories - as Peston does."

    Do you have any evidence that the condition of the economy is any better than Peston claims it is? If not, then why accuse him of being pessimistic?

    "Another example of the BBC making the news instead of reporting it ; rather like the Osborne Mandelson affair."

    Well there's lots of news the BBC has reported. You have heard of this new-fangled website called haven't you? And there is such a thing as someone being innocent when they are accused of something. That could apply to Osborne, Mandelson or even the BBC. Perhaps the BBC hasn't banned the word "recession"or "crisis", which, shock horror, it hasn't! Perhaps your criticism would be better placed against the Telegraph for publishing this untrue story? Same as it was the Times who first came out with the Osborne story. Not the BBC. Yes the BBC was accused of reporting on Osborne but not Mandelson (yet, again shock horror, Mandelson is story number 3 on the BBC website today) enough in the Daily Mail, but then the DM has an anti BBC story every day, especially considering the Daily Mail Group have 20% shares in ITN. Hmm no bias there then?

    "Emblazened across the front page of the BBC Website is "Downturn Snapshot: The Day's Events".

    "Excuse me Jeremy, but why is this story using in very big letters the word "downturn", instead of "recession"?"

    And how exactly does that refute his argument? So what if in the BBC uses the word downturn? Read the above blogpost again. He did not say, "Telegraph you are wrong, we do use the word recession, and we never use the word downturn", he said, "Telegraph you are wrong, we do use the word recession". Do you see how that works? How you can use the word recession and the word downturn at two different moments in time? They can use both words and that's fine by me. It also wouldn't make a jot of difference to the markets either, considering that the word "DOWNTURN" isn't exactly the most happy, jolly word ever is it?

  • Comment number 29.

    I'm amazed nobody has asked this yet, cos it's getting a lot of discussion in assorted communities I belong to: Did you guys not get the bagel memo?

    If only More4 hadn't moved the best programme of the last 10 years to midnight on a Saturday!

  • Comment number 30.

    Having been in the van of talking us into the present situation (stand up Robert Peston for a special award) and then heaping praise on the Captain of the Titanic for singlehandedly (not quite it seems now) saving the world, to now try to deny the situation we are in smacks of poor editorial judgement.

    Perhaps rather than rushing Robert in front of a microphone when he breathleesly rushed in with his latest scoop wiser editorial heads might have counselled caution.

    The BBC, making the news. Was there not something not too long ago telling the Editors to not rush to be first with the "news" but check and reflect first.

  • Comment number 31.

    The DJI has fallen 40% in a year with no clear end in sight. Credit dried up to the point where it took 2 trillion dollars to keep it from freezing all economic activity around the world completely. Comodity prices like gas and oil have fallen 60% in a matter of months. The employment outlook is bleak. The profit outlook is bleak. The largest companies aren't just laying people off, some of the largest such as Ford and General Motors may go out of business. Huge banks and other financial institutions have required enormous infusions of capital just to keep them from shutting their doors. The list just goes on. Entire nations are on the verge of economc collapse. Is it wrong to use the word recession to describe these series of interconnected events? Yes, it doesn't describe what is happening at all. The word depression is far more appropriate. One of the world's leading economists and principal architects of this situation Alan Greenspan has just called it a once in a century economic tsunami. Recession? The word is far too timid. But then the word militant for someone who blows themselves up with a bomb in an effort to kill as many civilians as possible for a political cause doesn't fit the proper use of the English language either. BBC can distort and pervert the definition of words but they don't fool anyone.

  • Comment number 32.

    28. My apologies, apparently I was not clear enough.

    You do not need a time machine to know when you are in recession, the ONS tells you when the economy is recessing. In the last quarter it recessed 0.5%. Hence we are in recession.

    You are correct in that the BBC should not say we are in 'a recession' without qualification but it is perfectly legitimate to say the economy is in recession and has been now for 3 months.

    The 2 quarter definition is only useful when viewing from a historical perspective. It absolutely does not indicate when a recession begins, if it did a half year long recession would begin and end at the same time, which is absurd.

  • Comment number 33.

    I do not care what you call the general economic events that are happening now.maybe that will be for the historians anyway.
    The issues are the unprecedented increase in energy costs, the collapse of banks due to improper investment,the increase in food costs and the sudden lack of money in the high street to buy goods and keep businesses going,and thus the unemployment that follows. These events have complicated causes but are causing havoc world wide right now so there is little point Tories rattling on about everything being Gordon Browns fault.
    In the end the responses of government to this crisis are all that matters and I know they are doing the best they can to soften some of the blows.
    I would help they remember that the less well off in the UK suffer disproportionately from these events and do everything they can do to help. I do not want to hear of an increase in pensioners dying of hypothermia this winter at the same time hearing about massive support being given to protect the bank accounts and savings of the very well off.
    An immediate simple benefit to help the less well off fairly would be to knock off VAT from heating fuels and energy bills and pay for it with an increase in tax to 50% on those earning above 100K a year.

  • Comment number 34.


    Historically US Dollar enjoyed the benefits of world Trading Currency, as it was considered a stable hard currency. Recently it has been falling in its value as result OPEC country finding it difficult to fix the price of barrel of liquid.

    Time is just right for the world to create new system to replace the Dollar as trading currency. I think IMF should introduce IMU (International Monetary Unit). IMU doesn’t need to issue any currency notes, but it will be a Unit that will be used to hold Bank reserves for international commodity trading. All the world currencies would be pegged to IMU, and may fluctuate according to their global strength.

    It would stabilize the global financial system and its value would not depend on the economic conditions of anyone country.

    When a depositor needs to withdraw its deposit, IMU would be converted to any currency the depositor requires. IMU’s value would remain stable; there will be no fear of deposits loosing their value.

    Its time for global change and time for IMU.

    Avtarjeet Dhanjal

  • Comment number 35.

    I think the media has to take a huge part of the responsibility for our current economic woes.

    All newspapers and other media were attempting to talk down house prices for months, yet when they truly started to fall there were gasps of dismay.

    The same has happened with the overall economic situation.

    Our government is currently being led by a man who's been responsible for national finances for the past ten years, yet he's been trying to pull the wool over our eyes and has been attempting to hide the true picture, borrowing massive sums of money so that he could say things were OK - yet this same man condemns ordinary people who follow suit.

    No doubt this same man will also condemn English University graduates who've had the tenacity to borrow money to pay for their education. Presumably they're supposed to click their fingers and it'll appear from somewhere or other - because nothing goes to them from government coffers, yet if they dare to work they're taxed as single adults with no dependants.

    Ask anybody who has to deal with household finances. They know exactly what the situation is like, and how rapidly it has deteriorated. They know, absolutely, that their spending power has been falling for more than the last six months, yet what does the media do? (And government too.) It sits on its hands and only "formally" tells us we're only "officially" in recession when the graphs tell them it's been bad for six months.

    Not everybody in the general population is an idiot, it's high time we were treated decently by those who are both meant to govern us and by those who disseminate information.

  • Comment number 36.

    I have to say, and i dont want to sound bad here, I find this all quite funny. Everyone running about acting like this whole thing came out of nowhere. This whole thing has been reported on for the last 5 years, Each stage of it mapped out, laid out, planned and discussed.

    So you guys here are going to spend your time arguing if it's a downturn or a recession. It hilarious. What were seeing right right now is just is just the start. I can't wait to see how you spin and react To whats coming next.

    Its great turns out the newspapers, the tv, the radio they all got it completly wrong, Fox, the BBC, The Guardian, all those trusted news organisations, how could they have seen this coming and what will happen next. This is the rhetoric they spout out, Headlines and catchphrases liek 'sub-prime' and 'credit crunch'

    While all the 'cant trust them intenet news sites' dont trust them 'conspiricy theorists', We know exactly whats going on Its been our main headline for years now, The slow gradual build up, the movements of money, changing legislation, Manouvering the economies into place and getting it ready.

    It seems you folks are so subdued you not realising that all your money is being stolen and this the start of it. I can't to see what all do and say about what comes to pass.

    They best newsprovider for this whole damn thing is probably youtube. If you want to know about oil, go watch lindsay williams, he has known and stated the price of oil 6 months in advance of each of these massive rises and drops. He practically tells you the day it will happen. He is no mystic, doesn't commune with aliens, He just knows the guys on the boards of the oil companies. He has many a lecture posted online you should watch them.

    He is just one example of a better newsource much better than you guys hanging on to have the bbc legitimizing and defining whats happening.

    Go on just try him, you might get to like knowing whats happeneing after a while.

  • Comment number 37.

    'How are you coping with the downturn/recession/gloom and doom etc etc'? Since the extent of the financial crisis became evident this has been a frequent question posed to listeners on mainly BBC radio programmes that allow phone in's.

    What's the point? Not only does it produce generally subjective 'self-interested' viewpoints but it evades the real cause of this capitalist crisis giving the overiding impression to the meek, anxious, and impressionable that recessions are inevitable when, in fact, they are endemic of capitalism.

    Due to the magnitude of the crisis and the social and political repercussion that could ensue from it the BBC as a public broadcaster should be presenting far more 'one to one' partisan political viewpoints and allowing callers to engage 'one to one' with leading politicians on all issues pertaining to it.

  • Comment number 38.

    I watch on the BBC World News channel. I have no complaints about the tone, but rather the quantity. There's a lot of repetition of the same points. I think we can have a lot more 'normal news' instead, and only report on the financial situation when there's something new to say, or a special expert discussion. This isn't a business channel, it's a news channel.

  • Comment number 39.

    There is a love that dare not speak its name which has been little discussed and much maligned throughout the duration of the current financial mayhem, and that is protectionism.

    For twenty years or more governments and the public have been exhorting the advantages of globalisation – but what exactly are they? Manifested by the free cross border movement of capital labour, goods and services, globalisation, we are told, brings vague but unspecified benefits for us all.

    Such as ?

    Since the early 1980s there has been a systematic destruction of Britains’ ability to control the production of the goods and services consumed by its people.
    - The city has been sold off to foreign investors
    - Manufacturing has been left to wither on the vine.
    - Despite being one of the worlds’ top twenty oil producers we have become utterly dependent on imported fuel
    - Our pension savings have been exported to a wide variety of overseas destinations.
    - Instead of being forced to confront imbalances in our labour market, we have imported cheap labour to fill a gap that could have been filled by long overdue welfare reforms.
    - The ownership of huge numbers of solid UK business has passed into foreign hands.

    But are we all really wealthier ? are we working less hours ? do we have a better education system ? do we have a fairer welfare system ? do we have control over UK fiscal policy? are the streets safer ? is our balance of payments better ? are we closer to energy self sufficiency? Could we feed ourselves in a crisis?

    Many commentators talk about their being a need to discover a new capitalism – well how about some of the older style version?

    It is possible for the UK to manufacture food, goods and services, sell them to its’ own population, furnish that population with well paid jobs and a rudimentary welfare safety net, develop an energy policy that can sustain this and do so without exporting the profit or importing the labour involved.

    It is possible for this to be done without the need for Government consumption to account for 50% of the revenue that accrues.

    How do we know it is possible – we used to run our economy that way for a great many generations.

    It is possible that globalisation might actually carry huge risks and benefit a select few individuals and countries. It may even be the case that a large measure of protectionism is no bad thing?

    Its’ just that nobody dare speak its name.

  • Comment number 40.

    Re: Allan Little's Thomas Jefferson's Slave Mistress
    I have no doubt regarding Thomas Jefferson and both his long term relationship and outside children produced by that relationship . However it is important to note that it wasn't Thomas Jefferson 's associates who originally captured and sold their own people into slavery - it was local African tribal leaders. Nor was it Thomas Jefferson's ships and ship captains/crews who transported same to the Americas - it was those of England, Holland, Spain, etc. . One might say that Jefferson himself was a victim of both the process and circumstances of a time and an age ..... a long , long time ago .

  • Comment number 41.

    Having only just discovered this site it was reassuring to know other people are, like me, finding the negativity of many news reports in the current "crisis" rather depressing. I am starting to avoid watching TV news because it is generally very dispiriting, and so repetative. Yes we need to know what is going on but please try to balance the doom-and-gloom with some positives to keep spirits up. As one of your recent bloggers said, if you keep grinding people down, sooner or later everyone will become so depressed and just give up!Surely the BBC, if no one else (and to whom we all have to pay the licence fee) has a duty to encourage people - not constantly pull us down. Try cheering us up a bit and you may increase your viewing numbers.

  • Comment number 42.

    This is very relevant regarding the current financial situation as it was leaked on 14th March 2008

    There is plenty on the web if your willing to research it but heres a few bits for you!

    This was only the fourth time in 176 years that Congress has closed it's doors to the public.

    Not only did members discuss new surveillance provisions as was the publicly stated reason for the closed door session, they also discussed:

    1.The imminent collapse of the U.S. economy to occur by September 2008
    2. The imminent collapse of US federal government finances by February 2009
    3. The possibility of Civil War inside the USA as a result of the collapse
    4. Advance round-ups of "insurgent U.S. citizens" likely to move against the government
    5. The detention of those rounded-up at "REX 84" (FEMA) camps constructed throughout the USA
    6. The possibility of retaliation against members of Congress for the collapses
    7. The location of "safe facilities" for members of Congress and their families to reside during expected massive civil unrest
    8. The necessary and unavoidable merger of the United States with Canada (for it's natural resources) and with Mexico (for its cheap labor pool)
    9. The issuance of a new currency - THE AMERO - for all three nations as the proposed solution to the coming economic crisis

  • Comment number 43.

    "It's ironic that just a few weeks ago some were criticising the BBC for being too pessimistic and "talking the economy down"."

    I guess the concept of a self-fulfilling prophecy is a new one to you, Jeremy??

  • Comment number 44.

    The media are as much to blame for the current downturn as the financial services sector are.

    With vast swathes of the population totally ignorant of financial matters they rely on the media for all their information.

    The issue is the media do their best to hype, twist and exaggerate fact and events to be heard above the ever increasing competition.

    The last 12 months show that the media have successfully talked the world into a recession, one country at a time.

    At a time when people are crying out for for more rigorous and stringent financial controls surely the same should be applied to the media reporting these events?!

  • Comment number 45.

    A word to the wise....

    As BBC reporters and their support staff have been crossing the pond and then crisscrossing America, at least some of them have surely been considering their long term options and thinking about what the future will hold for them personally. At least some of them must have been considering the possibility of jobs, retirement, and most certainly of buying a home either to move to the US permanently or for a winter vacation or a retirement home. The optimal time for purchasing a home is arriving with a housing glut and banks and other lending institutions looking for ways to sell them to financially sound buyers. For those paid or having their assets principally in US dollars, the opportunities will only increase. BUT...the best opportunities will only appear to those who hunt them down and the pound and Euro are falling against the dollar. Now would not be a bad time to consider opening up bank accounts in the US and transferring some money into dollars. Also, as the dollar strengthens, the relative advantage in currency may turn to disadvantage faster than housing prices depreciate. So, a word to the prepared to strike when the iron is hot. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, such situations don't last forever. The next year or two may present buying opportunities that will not come again in your lifetime.

  • Comment number 46.

    The British media didn't talk the UK into recession. The system of capitalism talked itself into recession like it always has done throughout history because despite all the hype of partisan politics none of the mainstream political parties challenge it so most of the electorate unwittingly condone it.

    The media's role is simple. If there's a bipartisan political system then there's obviously a bipartisan media so the system doesn't get the scrutiny it needs! Hence the financial media ignored excessive bank lending and borrowing practices as much as the politicians!

  • Comment number 47.


    They don't want to know, The dont know their fisa from their visa sadly.

  • Comment number 48.

    You are joking Mr Hillman, please tell me you are.

    Anyone can come up with definitions to suit their point of view; the Government does it very nicely with a cost of living index designed to make things look rosier than they really are. Likewise with an economy - who is it who has rewritten the dictionary definition to say it MUST be six months?

    Chambers says it is anything that is "receding", "a slight temporary decline in trade". Pretty straight forward to me.

    So who is the BBC working for Mr Hillman - your long suffering license payers who look forward to some honesty, or the Government cronies who believe that "spin" is always better than "fact".

    And just so that you understood the Chambers definition above - Britain is in recession - FACT.

  • Comment number 49.

    Its interesting that those who want a "talked up" economy do not ally the current financial crisis with the "talking up" that produced it. From Enron through the sub prime fiasco we see all the elements of "over confidence", of "bravado", of this glut will "never end".

    So who is brave enough to identify the first person who talked the economy down and got us into this mess? Come on it should be easy for y'all.

  • Comment number 50.

    @49 Exactly bully-baiter!

    Anyone with half sight can see this was well orchestrated by the same players behind many financial scandals of the last 20 years or so, search any of these:

    BCCI, Barings, Daiwa, Enron, Sumitomo, Credit Lyonnais, Bre-X, Lloyds, NASDAQ, Savings and Loan, WorldCom, Parmalat. and many more

  • Comment number 51.

    What I'd like to know is :

    Is Robert Peston maintaining this "we're all doomed" scenario and talking about Recession (with associated expensive graphics) just to plug his new book : "Who's to Blame for the Economic Mess We're in" ?

  • Comment number 52.

    All the signs are that the world is in the grip of a severe recession. Comparisons are being made to 1929. 'It is the economy stupid' reverberates in our minds and how right Clinton was. World leaders and their economic advisers need to put their economies on a sound footing where credit should not be allowed to spiral out of control! Sound fiscal management along with tighter banking and lending policies from the Central Banks and the IMF should be the basis for recovery. Hopefully important lessons from the tumultous last few months would have been learnt. The financial world is still reeling!

  • Comment number 53.

    Is anyone else fed up with the BBC reporting that the slide in stock market shares “will affect all our pensions” as if that’s the only issue? Pensions might concern the cosseted BBC news employees, for the rest of us we have to hope that the slide doesn’t take our jobs first.
    Moving on, is the lower buying power of a few UK shoppers in the USA really that big a deal compared to the ability of UK industry [what’s left] selling product to the USA and US tourists spending in the UK?
    We know the world is in a mess – not for the first time – but BBC news reporters seem to strive a little too hard to paint a doom scenario. To put a more balanced light on events, I’d like to see BBC employees' salaries linked to the share index – just so they can feel a bit of pain too. Perhaps they wouldn’t appear to portray doom scenarios with such gusto then.

  • Comment number 54.

    I think to say that the BBC "CAUSED" this recession is a little unfair. However they have certainly added to it.

    The reporting has been ridiculously sensationalist with reporters almost physically salivating over every twist and turn. Obviously people loosing their savings, their houses, their jobs is great entertainment value.

    And of course there might be awards for the journalists that break these stories. And the creatives who can come up with new logos.

    Please forget trying to entertain us with the news. Focus on telling us whats happening using moderate language, not the language of the red tops.

    IF the news continues to follow it's apparently inexorable slide downmarket then why bother to have a license fee?

  • Comment number 55.


    Given that most public sector salaries are linked to the official rate of inflation then most people in the BBC are, or soon will be, affected by the downturn even if they have been lucky enough to survive devaluation of their shares, house prices, and buying power.

    The problem I have with your "feel the pain" comment is that you seem to believe that those "causing the panic" are somehow manipulating the markets to produce the news. I am no great lover of the BBC and I have grown to despise its decline into red top sensationalism, but to blame it for the current panic is a bit of an act of desperation if you ask me.

    "Now here is the BBC news. It was a good day for the Dow Jones where share values fell to a new world record low. In congratulating the traders for such a great performance the President urged extra effort to bring the market down even further tomorrow. "You ain't seen nothing yet" he said. "

  • Comment number 56.

    The financial crisis is spreading to all the sectors and the ultimate results will be available by the end of 2009. Anyway the crisis is very crusial to all western markets since its a prestigeous counter movement from these governments and it should show some good results by the mid of next year atleast. But in terms of asian countries, it is a good opportunity to find alternative solutions and reconfirm their best practices followed over the past years. Some of the basic causes of financial crisis is, bad credit loans processed by the financial institutions to the customers and third parties. But in case of growing markets, most of the banks are assuring the creditworthiness of their clients twice since most of the clients are not high profile clients. Hence this didn't make much impact on their financial systems and processed loan payment shedules.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 57.

    I too am appalled that my Licence fee has been used to create "branding" for the recession! No doubt in their cosy public sector final salary pension scheme jobs the BBC feel they can say what they want and it wont affect them. I remember the BBC of old, the last bastion of calm, accurate reporting. Its now like a televised version of the Daily Mail. Perhaps when cuts in public spending are needed the first target should be privatisation of the BBC - you made your bed!

  • Comment number 58.

    The BBC has totally failed it's own standards of unbiased reporting. Headlines are screeched with glee when they are negative, but the very same items are buried deep when positive.

    A specific example from today - news that mortgage approvals have risen for the first time in a year is mentioned nowhere on the 40 items in the front page - if they had fallen it would be in the top couple of headlines.

  • Comment number 59.

    It's ironic that just a few weeks ago some were criticising the BBC for being too pessimistic and "talking the economy down", and some still are.
    The BBC needs to take a large amount of responsibility for the current situation we find ourselves in. The vociferous and speculatory nature of some of the news reporting has been disgusting. Robert Pestons blogs come across as the old lady gossiping..let me tell you what someone else has told me..what would be better is more hard facts and less speculation about what might happen. Further to this by blaming bankers and only bankers, you are removing the blame from other groups that have also had their hand in the current issues i.e. us consumers, who lapped up the cheap debt and didn't think to protect themselves against the possibility of a downturn. By blaming bankers, the behaviour of consumers will not change meaning that we will be in this position again regardless of how bankers behave.

  • Comment number 60.

    How about "depression"?

    My recollection is that house prices had dropped by 35% at the worst of the 1929-39 Depression.

    How does that compare with today?

  • Comment number 61.

    Financial Addiction

    The global spasms that are contorting the financial markets and the body politic of the entire world are the consequences of the disease of addiction as it has ravaged individual's lives whose occupations impact globally. These small numbers of people who have been so work addicted and dysfunctional show in a graphic manner the spiritual ferocity of a condition that Moses encountered in the society of his day - the 'golden calf' syndrome will destroy a society.

    How do we resolve the situation? First step is for everyone to accept their complicity. A society is a collection of individuals. The bankers have not got that much power that they could destroy a civilisation. We are the civilisation, every single individual. The balance of the number of individuals who are financially and materially sick has reached a tipping point that is being exposed by banking failures. It is no use blaming the leaders - those who have been mislead need to ask themselves why they empowered the misleaders in the first place. Was it not personal disorientation in the first place that looked to solve problems with erroneous solutions?

    Money is like oil in an engine. It is not even the fuel for the engine of the world. People and their intelligence are the fuel. Money is simply the lubrication. You would not pour oil onto the driving seat of your car and then try to drive it by taking a back seat.

    The way forward is to engage again locally with life in understandable small units of influence that fit together with a global harmony only because they are lived locally - in other words by not taking a back seat in your local affairs - service, recovery, unity, as they say in Alcoholics Anonymous.

    Accountants should be servants not masters. Money is not a commodity, it lubricates the commodities markets. Money is not a product, it facilitates the production process. Money is akin to feelings - feelings are not facts. Feelings lubricate the human instincts to provide the pressure for emotions to move human creativity and expression. Money should lubricate the machinery of service and utility in the material linkages of human emotion - money should not pretend to be the machinery.

    Feelings pretending to be emotions are adulterations of the system. Money pretending to be a thing in itself adulterates the system and distorts value and worth. It is like the oil pretending to be the gauge on the dashboard.

    Simple spiritual principles are required to restore trust and confidence once the mess and spillage has been cleared. The mess is akin to an oil tanker hitting the rocks. Vast amounts of detergent are needed to contain the spill. What is the detergent?

    Truth ... as it says in the Qur'an, 'we made this world with nothing but water and truth.'

  • Comment number 62.

    Well the BBC didn't predict the crash last year or the year before but all of a sudden they can predict house depreciation and unemployment increases down to one percent for the next 2 years.

    Let's see, house prices have fallen 10-15% since last year, the vast majoity of people are still in work on marginally higher salaries, banks are still offering reasonable mortgages at 6% interest with a 10% deposit (as good as they every should have). Petrol prices are down and other living costs are therefore likely to follow. But nevermiind, now is a terrible time to buy a house because some chap reading off a VDU says it is. Well, I guess the entire world should just go into hibernation until 2010 then, perhaps we should even stop paying taxes towards your salaries eh.

    I have no problem in you presenting fact as fact, but when you try to forecast a version of the future as fact, people should remember that you can't even get tomorrow's weather right half the time, and take such 'fact' with a pinch of salt. I must also wonder whether you have an ulterior motives in predicting such a gloomy future. One knows that predicting such things to the sheep-like can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Perhaps there are under-worked gentlemen who would like to purchase assets minus the hard-earned equity that people who actually work for a living have accumulated.

    In short, stick to reporting facts and things that have happened and we won't have a problem.

  • Comment number 63.

    Recession? What recession! Come to Buxton in Derbyshire - life goes on as normal plus it's a beautiful part of the Country. Perhaps the downturn is a Southern thing due to overinflated house prices and too high mortgages. Houses are still selling here, people are in the shops - down with doom and gloom think positive!!!

  • Comment number 64.

    A certain chap called Marx predicted this sort of problem. But he was ignored, and even worse thatcherite and reaganesque economic polices came to the fore when the wall fell.

    We have won they shouted, foolishly ignoring that the other side had simply collapsed.

    The storm troopers of the financial markets ran riot, proffit at all cost and sod justice.

    And now we are here.

    I do have ideas but I am afraid that until the likes of Barclays are held to charge, there will be little justice in Britain.

  • Comment number 65.

    I do wish sometimes that people would remember what the correct definition of a recession is.

    A recession = two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

    A depression = four consecutive quarters of negative growth.

  • Comment number 66.


    I cant wait, Im a woman of 36, married whom cant afford to get on the property ladder as houses are insanely overprices.
    I have have made sacrifices for the last 3 years and have saved £40.000 and hope to be a homeowner soon.

    I cant have compassion for those whom have not lived within their means, you want easy money and max your credit cards on holidays, new cars, plasma tv's so you can all say "Look what I got".

    well... from where im sitting i can see what you got now,, and its well deserved. I live within my means and I save for what I need, If i dont have the money I have to go without,,, thats life.

    So when the reposession orders come through, and you are all pulling your hair out and having mental breakdowns... thats where I come in.. To take your property off your hands for an agreeable price.. BRING IT ON!

  • Comment number 67.

    Neonskycat - if you actually understand what a recession will mean to YOU, I suspect you be less celebratory about the benefits you will possibly reap as a result. Best of luck with purchasing a house, but you may also need some luck with ensuring you have the income to maintain the mortgage repayments.

    Mind you, I must ask why you didn't purchase a house ten years ago when they were much more affordable. Maybe you didn't live within your means back then?

  • Comment number 68.

    The problem is that the word 'sustainability' is not understood by the banks, or the oil companies or utilities companies. Or perhaps it is understood but is blatantly ignored for purposes of short-term gain.

    I'm not talking about the environment here. I'm talking about what people can afford. The cycle of economic failure is a suspiciously consistent one. Roughly 15 years of growth and then systematic failure. During the preceding 15 years, corporations do their best to inflate the price of everything and take as much money from the public as possible. For a while this succeeds and the public struggle along, putting money into their houses. The corporate bosses profit tremendously from this boom.

    Eventually, a point of unsustainability is reached where the public can't afford to pay for everything, not always through any fault of their own. The price of utilities and petrol have accelerated far faster than their pay has. Usually before this point, comes a point where savings have dwindled and therefore credit becomes restricted. As credit becomes restricted, lending to businesses declines and interest rates go up. So people lose their jobs at a time when they can least afford to and we have this spectacular collapse. Meanwhile the corporate bosses put their profits in banks and gain huge interest. The public bailout the banks (and hence other corporations), so that they can borrow their own money back at interest. People are bankrupted, everyone cuts down on spending for a while and then the whole thing starts over.

    The route cause is that corporations are too greedy. Rather than accepting the overwhelming necessity of limited growth and occasional small declines, they choose to carry on aiming for bumper profits until the economy hits a brick wall. If the responsible individuals in such companies had to bear the financial strain of such crashes, they simply wouldn't happen due to the shear terror of the potential for money loss. However, we've created a system whereby these losses are socialised and spread to the people who can least afford it. Here is how to prevent a future catastrophe:

    1) The bank bailout should come from the banking elite. The 100,000 richest banking individuals and shareholders who are responsible for this collapse should pay £4m each. Your gamble, your loss. That's the way capitalism works. You can't go begging with a hammer and sickle when you screw up.

    2) Company dividends should be tax-deductable like interest and debt should be linked to asset value. This performs several roles. Firstly it puts equity on level terms with debt as a tool for raising capital. Secondly it forces banks to consider loans more carefully and prevents undue inflationary pressure due to blind, random cash injection and lastly it protects the equity of homeowners. Instead of the homeowner losing everything, if houses fall X%, the homeowner and bank take an X% hit in their investment. Both parties lose, rather than the poorest party being forced to foot the entire bill. Equally, if a house is sold prior to the full term for an increased price, both parties see an X% rise on their investment.

    Have no doubt that these measures will eliminate 'boom' but they will also eliminate 'bust' and restore confidence and trust. People will be free to buy houses at a sensible, sustainable price. The prices will be kept sensible by banks being forced to consider their investment and the buyers will know that, at worst, they will lose a percentage of their money, rather than losing money that never existed.

  • Comment number 69.

    May I ask who gives a donky's claw about true definitions?

    A recession is a word.

    What it means is something all together different depending upon your individual view.

    All I know is that those front line markettiers are the most illiterate of mathematicians :-)

  • Comment number 70.

    I'm in complete agreement with Rikraj. Not only is the increase in mortgage approvals buried but the BBC go on to predict further falls in the housing market to an accuracy of 1% in direct contradiction of this evidence. Also suppressed was the fact that the average house price is now just 22% higher than in 2003, representing an average annual rise of just 4% since 2003. A figure that is inline with most pay rises and well below the inflation of food and petrol.

    The sharp fall experienced recently was due to the fact that the banks simply refused all lending for a short period. The free market was basically taken hostage. This has now changed and banks are lending again.

    The BBC has totally failed it's own standards of unbiased reporting. Headlines are screeched with glee when they are negative, but the very same items are buried deep when positive.

    A specific example from today - news that mortgage approvals have risen for the first time in a year is mentioned nowhere on the 40 items in the front page - if they had fallen it would be in the top couple of headlines.

  • Comment number 71.

    I think it would behelpful if when discussing lower interest rates effecting income from savings ( as you did on the news at 10 tonight)you include the inflation effect. A year ago inflation was far higher than it is now and although a pensioner was earning say 5% on their savings inflation was eroding them at a nearly similar rate. Real returns are all that matter, that is nominal interest rates LESS the inflation rate. Please do more to make this clear in an environment where people are uncertain and nervous.


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