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“Green Shoots”=Economic Recovery?

April 21, 2009

The Economist posits an interesting correlation in a short piece. They track the use of the phrase “green shoots” in British and American newspapers and suggest that the observed rise in the use of the term is an indication that the world economy is improving or, at the very least, observers perceive the economy to be improving.

Search among a selection of British and American newspapers, for example, and mentions of “green shoots” in articles about the economy have increased enormously in the past couple of months. The earth was barren in the six months or so after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, but newspapers have, with the onset of northern hemisphere spring, started to find the confidence to discuss recovery.

I am not an economist, nor a sociologist, so I can’t say if this trend has any weight. But, as many commentators have pointed out, Wall Street performance is closely associated with psychological factors. And our psychology, whether in individuals or groups, is often a matter of perception. Are we fearful? Optimistic? Excited? That depends on what we’ve been exposed to or seen. And according to the Economist, news journalists, apparently, are seeing enough burgeoning good news to perceive a small beginning of new growth in the world economy.

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