From VANITY FAIR:
In these tough economic times, isn’t it nice to know that calamitous natural disasters needn’t have an adverse affect on your investment portfolio? After the 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan failed to induce a market nosedive, CNBC’s Larry Kudlow expressed his relief in terms that seemed to appall even his fellow cheerleaders for capitalism: “The human toll here,” he declared, “looks to be much worse than the economic toll and we can be grateful for that.”
Update: On Friday evening, Kudlow offered an apology for his comments through the most intimate means at his disposal—no, not his television show that was airing in an hour—his Twitter account. “I did not mean to say human toll in Japan less important than economic toll,” he wrote. “Talking about markets. I flubbed the line. Sincere apology.”
(Video at VANITY FAIR link. Notice that his co-hosts, Trish Regan and Melissa Francis, didn’t blink, let alone smack him upside his stupid head and tell him what an insensitive asshole he is.)
From DAVID WEIDNER at Market Watch:
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Maybe the most distasteful example of our ability to withstand the combined shocks of Middle East revolutions, global hunger problems and the unfolding tragedy in Japan came in the form of bad comparisons.
There was Larry Kudlow of CNBC suggesting Friday that we should be grateful that the human toll of the earthquake and tsunami hitting Japan was much worse than the economic toll.
There was Lawrence McDonald, the former Lehman Brothers vice president who wrote an insider account of the firm’s demise, who blogged a piece under the insensitive headline “Japanese earthquake is tragic; debt tsunami coming is worse.”
And then there were Nouriel Roubini and William Pesek exchanging opinions on whether the tragedy in Japan would be good for the Japanese economy or spur needed reforms.
These comments basically followed three weeks of discussion about gas and oil prices as young Middle Easterners risked their lives — with hundreds losing them — to end repressive regimes.
he next step will likely be an analysis of how these disasters might affect Apple Inc.’s /quotes/comstock/15*!aapl/quotes/nls/aapl [...] rollout of the iPad 2 in Tokyo.
If you think this is exaggeration, consider a Wall Street Journal discussion of how global food shortages will benefit the U.S. agriculture industry. There’s not a mention of how people going hungry might be an issue.
This is all very useful information — unless you’re being tortured or starved or you’re dead.
[W]e can’t ignore the reality that commodities, oil and the Japanese economy are important. Together, they make the world go around.
But in times of tragedy, the financial world needs to be more sensitive, at least in how it discusses tragedy. Comparing the loss of life in Japan to the debt markets or suggesting that a global food shortage is a good thing either shows how removed we’ve become or desensitizes us to the real hardships that people face.
Economic machinations and tragic loss of life don’t belong in the same sentence, much less one that suggests the debt problem is somehow more important than the dead washing up on the beach in Sendai.
What’s happening to victims in the Middle East, Japan and food-starved nations is worse than what’s happening to us at the pump or to the debt or commodities we hold.