Vacuous economic explanations: Example 1

From a report on NZIER’s latest forecasts:

The main factors reducing economic activity were falls in private consumption, investment and net exports, NZIER said.

I am going to assume that NZIER didn’t actually say that – and that it instead came straight from NZPA.

When everything is falling (except government spending it seems), saying that activity fell because activity fell is relatively meaningless.  Why not say that the decline in economic activity was broad based, and was the result of some REAL FACTORS, like a drought or high oil prices or a collapsing world economy.

I don’t really see C+I+G+X-M as an explanation – it is an identity that allows us to frame issues, but if we are going to talk about “factors” behind a recession we should actually talk about the things that lowered activity.  Bryan Caplan doesn’t like it either – so I’m not alone in this distaste 🙂