from Follow the Money

De-internationalization of the Wall Street Journal?

January 5, 2006

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Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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The Wall Street Journal is dropping the "International" page of its US edition.  "International coverage" is now - according to the publisher - fully integrated into the Journal's coverage of all issues anyway.   Some changes to the Journal's coverage of "Politics and Policy" are also in store. 

From the outgoing publisher

We will be integrating elements of our macroeconomic and political coverage on new "Politics and Economics" pages in the A section that will combine and replace what now appears under the Politics & Policy and International headings.

I am a big fan of most parts of the Journal.  

And one of the parts I like most is the international page - probably because it coverage spans the globe and often picks up on items of interest.  So count me unconvinced by the proposed changes. 

Different is not necessarily worse.  But the revised presentation of certain financial data in the C section ("Money and investing") section does not give me confidence in the forthcoming changes.   The Journal currently presents the euro and yen spot rates in the "ticker" on C1.   That is a step back from what they presented before the redesign.  They used to present a graph showing movements in the euro/$, yen/ $ and (most importantly) the JP Morgan dollar index over the past year.  I found the yearly graphs useful - far more so than the easy to find spot rates.  The financial data presented on p. C2 tends to be very US centric.  Look at today's paper.

The currency pairs that the Journal doesn't report on either C1 or C2 -- broadly speaking, the dollar's value v. emerging economies -- matter.  We no longer live in a dollar/ euro/ yen world.   Or even a dollar/euro/yen/swiss franc/ British pound world.   Don't get me started on the declining utility of the heavily traded dollar index (DX) as a measure of the dollar's broad value.   Looking forward, the $/ RMB, and for that matter the $ v all the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China) will matter more and more.   The dollar/ Mexican peso is a pretty important rate for the US too. 

The oped page of the Journal is notable for its lack of a serious attention to international economic issues.  It would be great if the rest of the paper offset that (in the same way the commentary by Wessel and others on A2 offsets the oped page).

I realize that the Journal's bread and butter is the American economy, and Americans play the stock market, not the currency markets.  The Journal ain't the FT.   But the redesign of the C section does not give me confidence that the forthcoming redesign of the A section won't be a step back in the Journal's coverage of international economic issues.  I hope I am wrong.

Rant over.

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