Alan Steel: Good news is no news, so try to remember what you don’t hear

IN THE midst of he recent spat between Glasgow Rangers Football Club and the BBC the club announced that it was withdrawing all co-operation with the broadcaster.

Rangers FC said it was withdrawing its co-operation over what it claimed were repeated difficulties with the broadcaster this year. The club claimed there were several instances of reporting on Rangers from the BBC that had been “neither accurate nor fair”. It also said that a BBC documentary, which was aired last Thursday night, was “a prejudiced muck-raking exercise”.

Remarkably the BBC replied to the allegation, saying that it placed “absolute value” on its “accuracy and impartiality at all times”.

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But I have to say my experience as an independent financial adviser and as a consumer over the last few years leaves me astonished that the BBC should claim to be accurate and fair at all times. That’s just not the case.

Back in early 2009 when markets were falling and pension schemes were in a bit of temporary difficulty, I was asked by the corporation to comment on the situation – on the proviso that we went along with the view that the world was coming to an end and that pensions were in big trouble. But as it happened that wasn’t a view that we shared, so we weren’t included in the broadcast. No balance there then.

Then at the beginning of August this year, it was reported by the BBC that an indicator no-one had heard of before – the Philly Fed Index – had plummeted by a record amount. This in turn helped trigger dramatic falls in global stock markets.

The BBC failed to mention that this was the 17th time the Philly Fed Index has plunged since the mid 1970s and that on every previous occasion world stock markets had bounced upwards over the following 12 months. So will the BBC now report that the index has jumped 26.2 points, the biggest monthly increase in 31 years and the fourth largest on record?

Economists who, like the BBC, seem to wallow in only bad news, have yet again been silenced by this huge positive bounce. But they’re usually wrong anyway. So far they have underestimated recent US corporate profits by at least 100 per cent. Oops!

For investors the position is becoming clearer. The US is not in recession and neither is the global economy. I had to laugh when the stock market allegedly fell because Chinese GDP growth had apparently slipped, registering a mere 9.1 per cent increase over the previous year. Putting that into perspective, at the end of last year it was estimated that Chinese GDP, or income if you prefer, stood at $6 trillion.

So a 9.1 per cent increase comes to something like $540 billion. That’s almost double the entire value of Greece’s economy. If the UK posted such an increase it would represent GDP growth of over 23 per cent.

So why the main news networks are obsessed by only bad news and not the good, and what their agenda could be, is beyond me. As I’ve said many times before it’s what they’re not reporting that gives us hope.

• Alan Steel is chairman of Alan Steel Asset Management