No good news please. Published in the Surf Coast Times

Noted business columnist Michael Pascoe wrote a brilliant piece in the Sydney Morning Herald last week about how in Australia, bad news sells while good news doesn’t. It was against the background of how well Australia is performing economically against the rest of the world, yet our consumer confidence is very poor. Business confidence is at its highest level since 2008, unemployment has dropped to 5.7% in March, the property market has settled into a sustainable rhythm after last year’s frantic pace and even the share market is showing good signs.

So why is our consumer confidence so low? Michael Pascoe puts up the proposition that it is simply that good news doesn’t sell so we don’t get it screamed at us like we do bad news. So we only get fed the bad news to keep our attention on the advertising. It is our nature to slow down to look at a car crash. It is unfortunate but true that “Housing Crash”, “Rate Hike” or “Blood Bath” will draw our attention much more than “Australia is performing quite well at present even though we don’t want to admit it”. But if fact we are.

Sure, if you hunt around enough you will find some unfortunate circumstances that are less than ideal and different areas will always be better off than others, but in a macro sense Australia is a good place to be.

This bad news feed that we experience every day from our mainstream media, has a greater affect in Australia than else where in the world because it plays on our ingrained lack of confidence as a nation. In the US they are so used to saying that they are the greatest nation in the world, that they actually believe it. They have the biggest economy but in many areas they have the biggest problems too (debt, gun control and levels of incarceration to name a few). Australia is among the world’s best in so many areas yet we just don’t truly believe it could be possible. It is simply easier to believe the bad news that the media feeds us and this is why our surveyed consumer confidence is so low when most other economic measures are actually very positive. Weird but unfortunately true.

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