CNN Portrays Foreign Investment in America as Sign of Economic Decline

     On March 16, CNN’s Kitty Pilgrim announced the discovery of “more evidence” of the “failure of the Bush administration’s economic and trade policies,” costing American workers jobs.

     “So simply put, this is yet another example of the economic decline of this country,” said the fill-in host of “Lou Dobbs Tonight.”

     Not only did Pilgrim, a supposedly objective journalist, give her blatant opinion – she also led viewers astray with her description of foreign investment in America.     

     Pilgrim based her opinion on Commerce Department statistics for 2006, released March 14. Americans achieved a record $622 billion in foreign investment earnings, she said. But “foreigners took in $629 billion from their investments in the United States. That means a $7-billion loss [of] the United States to foreign countries ... That’s never happened before.”

     But total international income on investments isn’t a zero-sum game, where Americans lose if foreigners win. In fact, foreign investment in U.S. companies confirms the country’s position in the international business community.

     “The good news it reflects is America continues to be seen for a safe and profitable haven for the world’s savings,” said Daniel Griswold, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Trade Policy Studies.

     Pilgrim’s description of the Commerce Department figures as “yet another example of the economic decline of this country” was unsupported by the facts.

     “What’s deceiving about her report is that foreigners own quite a bit more investment in the United States than we own abroad,” Griswold said. He added that Americans earned almost as much from their combined $11 trillion invested in foreign assets in 2005 as foreigners do from their $13 trillion in U.S. assets that year.

     What the $7-billion “loss” cited by Pilgrim does not indicate, he told the Business & Media Institute, is that America is declining or that its economic policies have failed.

     “Would the Kitty Pilgrims of the world be happier if foreigners started taking their money out of the U.S. en masse?” he asked. “The figure she’s complaining about would turn positive very rapidly, and it would be an economic disaster for the United States.”

     “Only the Lou Dobbs program could see our continued attractiveness to foreign investors as a sign of failure,” Griswold said. “It shows their economic illiteracy.”