Weak Economy Means Picture Now Worth 1,744 Words
The report points to an oversupply of words in the economy with which the also-increasing supply of pictures cannot keep pace. Despite the prevalence of Facebook feeds and Flickr files, the number of words has outstripped the number of images by more than a factor of 1,000, meaning that it now takes far more than 1,000 words to equal a single such image.
“Talk is cheap,” noted economist Fiskell Yier. “That’s always been true, but in general the volume of words remained more or less stable relative to the prevalence of pictures in circulation.”
“The Twitter era changed all that. Right now we’re finally seeing where the text-only medium has leapfrogged the media that make greater demands on data space,” he explained. “The number of images has certainly increased, but the number of discrete word-based source links to those images has also increased at a much greater rate.”
The development marks the second time this year that familiar equations began losing their accuracy in light of new economic developments or observations. In June, inflation indicators pointed to a bird in the hand no longer being worth two in the bush. Last year, also in the third quarter, economists noted that it began to to take three to tango. However, by January, the figure had returned to two, probably as a result of fallout from Hurricane Sandy.
Historically, there have been few such disruptions of longstanding economic equivalents, leading some analysts to fret that the uncharacteristic frequency of such developments portends more disruptive economic instability. However, the Treasury report warns readers not to jump to conclusions too rashly, as these relatively rare occurrences tends to come in clusters.
For example, the report notes, in March 1966 a stitch in time began to save only eight, and, later that year, the common idiom was downgraded to, “Another day, another eighty-seven cents.” During that same half of the decade, several other such changes were documented, including, “You’ve got another 1.77 thinks coming,” “To the five corners of the Earth,” and “On Cloud 9.637.”
But the intervening decades have proved quiet on that front, leading the Treasury towards a conservative approach. “We caution investors, regulators, and other market players not to jump to rash action,” the report concluded, “as the prudent course would be to look 1.33 times before you leap.”