Glenn Beck’s emails

Editor’s Note: Since I wrote this post, Mr. Beck has gone…how shall I put it?  Insane?  I still think these emails were interesting reading, but I want to be completely clear that he has now (March 2009) transformed and I completely disagree with most (if not all) of his views.

Glenn Beck is a conservative commentator on CNN who differs from other commentators who call themselves conservatives but really mean “party hacks.”  I don’t agree with him all the time, but his economic views usually mirror my own…

…which is why I found these emails unnerving. He sent some letters to his family that ended up on the internet with his take on the current economic crisis.  It came in three parts:  “(1) how did we get here; (2) what’s coming; and (3) what can I do to prepare myself and my family.”

The emails, if nothing else, make for some thought-provoking reading. An unnamed business leader told him a 15%-20% reduction in GDP was possible:

A 15%-20% reduction of GDP would be like wiping out between $2.1 to $2.8 trillion dollars from our $14 trillion GDP.  To show you how big that number really is, consider that in one year we spend about $583 billion to run the entire Defense Department, $43 billion to fund the entire Department of Homeland Security and have spent less than a trillion dollars fighting in Iraq
since that war began.

By way of comparison, in the Great Depression, our national GDP fell 29% over a four year period (1929-1933) and in that period we saw 7000 banks fail, a 25% unemployment rate and a Dow Jones industrial Average suffer an 80%  decline.  And that was when the pain of a shrinking GDP
was spread over 4 years!

His take on what to do (in the third email) gets a little apocalyptic for my taste, but his first two emails are interesting reading. Here’s the link to the emails again.

12 comments

  • Ashley @ Wide Open Wallet

    I used to watch Glenn Beck every day, but lately I can't handle it. I've stopped watching/ listening/ reading and I feel better about my life. I'm not saying what he says isn't true. I don't know if it is or it isn't. But listening every day to “the sky is falling” stuff wears on me.

  • he sounds like a nutcase.

    • He more or less is, but I think it's always worth reading people who lay out their thoughts in a detailed and considered manner. He got me thinking a bit, put it that way.

    • minus the little inaccuracies. but hey, who pays attention to detail, anymore…

      getting you thinking is never bad. but getting you to think does not = legitimacy. the unabomber got me thinking too…

  • As soon as Glenn Beck announced he signed a new contract with Fox News (he starts in Spring 2009 at the 5PM slot) CNN cut him off at the knees. Glenn's CNN show was wiped off the face of the earth.

    Glenn Beck may have seemed extreme BUT he was the only one who spoke the truth, told it like it is, had great guests on his show, which was contradictory to the left tendencies of CNN.

    I'm glad Glenn is off CNN and look forward to his new show on Fox. You can still listen to Glenn's radio show, via his website.

    You will see more and more cancellations like this one. If you don't project a left tendency, plan on losing your job because you're days are numbered. Say what you want about Fox News, but it's the only conservative show left on the air. Radio talk shows are the next targets of the left.

    • Well, I can hardly blame CNN – Fox would do the same to Sean Hannity if he announced he was leaving to go to CNN, for example. These news channels are pretty competitive in a way that has nothing to do with politics – they would prefer to bury Beck to kill Fox's ratings. I doubt they care much about his politics or they wouldn't have hired him in the first place.

      And I have to say, there's a reason why there's only one conservative network on the air, just as there's only one (clearly) liberal news network on the air (MSNBC): I think a lot of people, like me, just want factual news. I would argue that Fox is less conservative than it is partisan – look at the ridicule they heaped on Ron Paul, the most conservative politician out there (in my opinion).

      I think CNN's closer to factual than most news networks – my biggest complaint with them is that they tend towards the Entertainment Weekly style of reporting… lots of “here's the latest on that kitten in the well” types of stories. I'm not a fan of talk radio, left or right, simply because it's an echo chamber. Same thing with political blogs – too few divergent opinions. I like to get news, not opinion.

  • Where'd you dig these up, Steve? Nice find and an interesting read. (I don't get US cable news since moving north so often miss out on these sort of characters …. the third email is indeed comedy gold, but it's in the second one that he manages to work in the ACLU and unilateral Israeli invsion of Iran. Impressive!)

    I've read a lot of posts and op-eds summarizing major media summaries on the crisis, which is interesting enough if well written, but do you know if anyone has compiled or otherwise reported on those who foresaw and critiqued this stuff earlier on? Before the relatively recent WSJ op-eds started being published?

    • I dug these up on digg (har, har). You know, as far as predictions about the market crisis, I only know of a couple of people: Paul Krugman, the recent Nobel-prize winner in economics who writes for the NY Times has been shrieking about the real estate bubble, etc. for a while, and Robert Shiller, a Yale economist, was an early gloom-n-doomer.

      My only question about that is that given there's a bubble in some sort of area every decade or so, when will people wise up that if it looks like a bubble and smells like a bubble, it is a bubble? I thought the real estate bubble was a bubble (just because I'm always a cynic about the next great investment idea), but I had NO idea it would pop so badly. I thought it would adjust fairly quickly, like the dot-com bust.

    • And Ritholtz of course, here's an interesting post/link/comments from March 2007:

      http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2007/03/

    • I am starting to think that the time to cash out of any market is the first time you hear three analysts in the media in one day say or write something to the effect of “This time it is different.”

      It happened with the tech, housing, and energy run ups in about 10 years. For housing it was immigration. For energy, it was dwindling supplies and Chine/India. The internet was pure magic and thus required no additional explanation of why it was different. All three markets crashed and burned after being often touted as “This time it is different.”

  • I guess that was my point, too – even if someone holds a point of view that you don't agree with, that's based on a lot of inaccuracies (for example, calling the current Republican party ideology “conservative”, which it most certainly is not) you can still learn something from listening to it. Or not – I always draw a line somewhere (I won't listen to Coulter, for example).

  • I am starting to think that the time to cash out of any market is the first time you hear three analysts in the media in one day say or write something to the effect of “This time it is different.”

    It happened with the tech, housing, and energy run ups in about 10 years. For housing it was immigration. For energy, it was dwindling supplies and Chine/India. The internet was pure magic and thus required no additional explanation of why it was different. All three markets crashed and burned after being often touted as “This time it is different.”