Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cause or Effect?

I was recently at a conference in Cape Breton, NS. “Continental” breakfast was included with the room, so at about 8:00 AM local time I went down to get something to eat. I grabbed a copy of the Halifax Chronicle Herald to read while I swilled a cup of coffee. For those not in the know, the Chronicle Herald claims to be, and is often recognized as, the regional paper of the Maritimes.

I turned to the business section to see if I could track a couple of different developments, particularly with BHP’s bid for Potash Corp of Sask. When I found the business section I just about fell out of my chair. The entire business section was 4 pages - 2 pages front and back. One of those pages was stock listings!

This got me thinking. A regional population of around 2 million people, and yet there are only 4 pages in the business section of the regional paper? What’s going on?

As usual, two different explanations came to mind. Sorry, I am an economist, after all. They can be split between cause and effect. On the effect side, as I’m sure most people reading this blog know, the Maritimes doesn’t have a lot of business to report on. Most is concentrated into a small number of big firms, and the activities of these firms tend to make the front page, not the business section. So the tiny business section is an effect of the overall business climate.

The other possibility is that the attitude of the press and population (I’m assuming the press at some level has a positive correlation with the feelings of the populace) makes for an unhealthy business environment. So a minuscule business section corresponds with a weak business sector.

I’m not sure which is true, likely both. It’s definitely something to think about

No comments: