Pity the lay journalist

We journalists aren't known for our analytical skills; we're a decidedly right-brained bunch. As subjects go, we're heavy on english and history - math and science, not so much. One of our characteristics is that we look at the whole, rather than the parts. So, trying to make sense of our subject for Trend of the Week is driving me a little mad. Let me see if I've got this right; Sales advanced, but not as much as expected, but were still strong, but not if you factor in other variables. According to the quoted expert, it could have been a negative story. But, is the Journal's headline positive?

The holiday retail season is supposed to be a leading indicator of things to come. So, does this mean recession? Does the confusion generated by the story really say every thing we need to know about the prospects for 2008, that no one really knows anything when it comes to predicting complex economic patterns over a 12-month period? Pity, then educate, the lay journalist and let me know what you think. I'll highlight some of the more compelling arguments over the next few weeks.

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