NYT ombudsman whitewashes reporter's abuse of the credit system

adam and eve - I build this garden for us

adam and eve - I build this garden for us

Economics reporter Edmunds Andrews is no babe in the woods when it comes to credit or story-telling. But it sure looks as if the NYTimes ombudsman is.

Carl Hoyt came rushing to the defense of Andrews, who recently penned Busted, the tale of Andrews’ descent into economic hell, which he attributes to the subprime mania. But Andrews never mentions that his wife is a serial bankruptcy filer — a fact blogger Megan McArdle says recasts the narrative arc in Busted from an Everyman Subprime morality tale into a story of singular folly. Andrews was an accident waiting to happen, as I wrote over the weekend.

Times ombudsman Hoyt dismisses the interpretation. But blogger Brad DeLong takes both Andrews and Hoyt to the shed for burying how successfully Andrews played the system. According to DeLong, Andrews remains nearly $100,000 ahead of the game, even if he loses his house (which appears likely).

So Ed Andrews’s adventures in real estate have lost him $46K in NYT stock that he sold to make his down payment–stock that would now be worth $14K…

He has now lived rent-free for the ten months since be stopped paying his mortgage–call that +$32K…

He paid essentially a market rent for the house via his mortgage payment but he got a tax shield worth $500 a month for 42 months–+$21K…

And he pumped $58K out in his home equity loan…

So by my count his adventure in real estate has enabled him and his wife to spend $97K more over the past five years and still arrive at the same asset position as if they had rented…

via New York Times Crashed-and-Burned-and-Smoking Watch (Ombudsman Clark Hoyt Edition). (h/t Clusterstock)

It’s a shame Andrews omitted and then foolishly papered over his wife’s two bankruptcies, one of which occurred during their marriage. I think writing about his wife’s money management problems would have made the story more compelling: divorced boy meets divorced girl and then dives into a river of debt to keep her happy. That’s not just a subprime tale, it’s the most human story of all.

Image via Flickr
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