A ‘go-to’ pundit’s spotty track record

Andrew Ferguson’s latest media tweak as Commentary’s “Press Man” focuses on the continuing use of Mark Zandi as an economic expert — despite an apparent lack of expertise.

Zandi, a Democrat, is often portrayed as a Republican, “noted conservative,” or “an economist who has advised both Democrats and Republicans,” precisely because he filed a weekly analysis of current economic data for the McCain team early in the 2008 presidential campaign.

Fergsuon offers the following thoughts about the accuracy of Zandi’s analysis:

More frequently than most go-to guys, Zandi volunteers not merely subtly shaded opinions, not merely [Norman] Ornsteinian “context” and [Douglas] Brinklean “perspective,” but bald predictions about how matters will lie a year or two or three from now. Over time, Zandi’s predictions are tested by reality. In August 2006, he told Newsweek that housing prices would bottom out in August 2007. In October 2007, he told the National Association of Home Builders that the bottom would come in late 2008. In April 2009, he told Time magazine that housing prices would bottom out by the end of the year. (“I feel very confident about this,” he said.) Three months later, he told NPR that “by this time next year, the market will have hit bottom.” The market is still looking for its bottom, and so is Zandi, with both hands.

Zandi’s blown predictions are easily retrievable from the Web, especially now that bloggers like the economist Veronique de Rugy and the money manager Barry Ritholz (to both of whom I’m indebted) have made a sport of Zandi-watching. He’s been overtaken by events so often it’s a wonder he doesn’t have tire tracks on the back of his suit coat. The stimulus that he helped design has been, by any layman’s assessment. A spectacular failure, if only because the predictions he made for it — a housing market on the upswing, revived job creation — have failed to come true.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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