Can a Novelist Predict the Economy?

Sometimes. In this case, he just may be on the right side of the debate

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Given a choice, who would you trust most on the economy (you can only pick one):

If you're playing by the odds, the one you probably didn't go with is Gessen. But in this case, you might be wrong.

In a letter to the readers of his quarterly magazine--the theme of which this issue is "Recessional"--he glancingly remarked that while they had been making it, "The recession ended." Moe Tkacik, a well-known alumna of The Wall Street Journal, Jezebel and Talking Points Memo, pounced from her new perch at Business Insider:

"Wait: does Gessen know something Obama doesn't about tomorrow's GDP data? Is he talking about the recession, insofar as it pertains to JP Morgan's 1,626 top-earning employees?

...The investment community is generally quick to discount the prognostications of literary novelists as what they call "lagging indicators."

Unfortunately, it turns out Gessen may be on the right side of the debate, at least as it stands now. As we reported yesterday, he's in line with a number of more "properly qualified" economists who believe that the worst of the crises is behind us. (See: Paul Krugman.) Reinforcing this point, leading liberal light Matt Yglesias weighed down on Gessen's behalf this morning:

"Joking aside, I think the odds are quite good that the NBER business cycle dating committee will end up vindicating Gessen. Today we learn that GDP shrunk at an annualized rate of one percent in the second quarter...Nothing’s certain, but it’s perfectly reasonable to believe that three months from now we’ll learn that GDP growth was weakly positive in July-August-September of 2009 and that the recession did, in fact, end while Issue 8 of N+1 was at the printer."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.