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Neil Cavuto Reports on an Iraq "Success Story" That, When Compared to a Report He Aired in 2004, Falls Flat on Its Face

Reported by Melanie - July 5, 2007 -

In June and August, 2004, Neil Cavuto aired two reports about the Baghdad Stock Exchange, claiming that its opening in June of that year was an indication that life was returning to normal there. He aired another report today (July 5, 2007). If one compares the numbers presented today to the numbers presented in '04, things do not look good. As a matter of fact, based on Fox's own information and contrary to Cavuto's spin, the Baghdad Stock Exchange is definitely not a "success story."

With a graphic over his shoulder that read, "Stocks Rocking in Iraq," Cavuto introduced today's segment with this:

Meanwhile, lots of talk on the campaign trail about what's going on, ah wrong, in Iraq, virtually none about what's going right. Today a focus on one success story you will not hear anywhere else, the Baghdad Stock Exchange.

With that Cavuto turned to reporter Malini Bawa who showed the same scene contained in one of the '04 reports: A small, crowded room, not packed with tickers and computers, but with dry-erase markerboards used to record the transactions. The dry-erase markerboards were present in Fox's '04 report as well.

Bawa said the exchange has 48 brokers. In June 2004, Fox said it had 150.

In 2004 Fox said the exchange was open two days a week for two hours. According to Bawa, that is still the case -- after three years. She said that sometime this month it will be open three days a week and, "by fall, the hope is a five-day week, five hours daily." If over the last three years the exchange hasn't expanded its hours beyond four hours a week I'd say that the chances of it extending its hours now are slim to none.

Bawa said today that, "In fact, the total market capitalization for the ISX has fallen over the last 18 months to just $1.4 billion." According to Fox's June, 2004 report, listed firms issued "100+ billion shares of stock." How does issuing "100+ billion shares of stock," translate into a market capitalization of $1.4 billion?

Bawa turned to an unidentified American woman who said, "That is indeed down from a high of about two billion just, at near the very end of 2005, however building for the future's probably the most important thing." How does the issuance of "100+ billion shares of stock" in June, 2004 translate to a onetime "high of about two billion" (Fox did not clarify whether the American was talking about two billion shares or two billion dollars) at the end of 2005 and market capitalization now of $1.4 billion without that being anything but bad news?

Bawa went on to say that there were "a dozen companies" listed on the exchange in 2004 but there are "more than 90 now." In June, 2004, Fox reported that "13 banks and 70 companies were listed." That would be a total of 83 entities. Were they lying then or are they lying now? If there were "a dozen" companies listed in 2004, an increase of 58 is substantial. However, if there were 83 companies listed in 2004, as Fox reported at the time, an increase of 7 is laughable.

Comment: The discrepancy between Fox's 2004 reports and the one it aired today is so incredibly contradictory that it's hard to know what's going, but very careless "news" reporting does come to mind. One thing is clear: Cavuto's spin, that the Baghdad Stock Exchange is a "success story," falls flat on its face based on Fox's own "facts."