This paper examines the portrayal in the press of economic forecasts, both academic and popular, relating to major real estate crises, using textual analysis of print media and Internet news indices to gauge public “forecasting” and widely held beliefs. The authors find that the use of real-time data limits the accuracy of forecasts. There appears to be reluctance in the press to forecast bad news, and when bad news is forecast, the report is often cushioned with counterbalancing observations. A review of news articles surrounding individual crisis events shows that media reporting that employs academic forecasts has tended to be more accurate than reports relying on forecasts from other sources. Reviews of two periods of real estate crises—the mid-1980s and the 2007-2009 crisis—show that many of the serious problems identified during and after the crisis were described in the press as early as two years in advance, but that the crisis remained a surprise as this preliminary interest and concern tended to taper off before the onset of the shock.
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