Monday, November 30, 2020 2:27 PM
A group of the country’s leading economists have written to the BBC’s chief executive complaining about the broadcaster’s “misleading” financial coverage.
Two dozen finance buffs have told Tim Davie that BBC reporting on Britain’s borrowing “misrepresents” the constraints facing the government and the economy due to the Covid-19 crisis.
The complaint related to the organization’s coverage of last week’s spending review, which laid bare the impact of the pandemic on the country’s finances.
On Politics Live, BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg compared the situation to “the credit card, the national mortgage, everything has been maxed out”, adding that “for the next few years there is no really has no money”.
Economists argued the analogy was “inappropriate”, saying journalists should not draw comparisons between macroeconomics and household finances.
“Maximizing a credit card would imply that the government is approaching a hard limit on its ability to borrow. This is not the case,” they wrote.
It came after the Office for Budget Responsibility revealed that UK borrowing this year is set to hit a peacetime record of £394bn, or 19% of GDP.
But the report says the government should have no problem maintaining record levels of public borrowing.
The signatories noted that Kuenssberg and other commentators had made a number of specific points, including that interest payments on government debt are actually expected to fall to record lows due to low bond interest rates. of state.
But they urged BBC journalists to be more careful when explaining “crucial economic issues”.
“When used by respected and neutral commentators, these analogies with the ‘household budget’ have an air of objectivity and exert a great influence on the public’s understanding of the economy, even if they do not represent economic reality,” they write.
A BBC spokesman said: “Of course people can debate national borrowing and what that means for the country. This is why the BBC puts so much effort into explaining these issues and precisely why we provide so much analysis.
“Clearly there are differing views on public finance and spending and the BBC is making great efforts to reflect this. The two comments mentioned were brief points raised in a long-running program where, as the saying goes the letter, the debate on the debt was rich and covered the points raised by the letter.