WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. (TheStreet) -- Covering Exxon's ( XOM) earnings without giving prominent mention to production levels is akin to camouflaging a void. The oil giant's earnings could, on the surface, look good--and they did. Its 3rd quarter net income, reported yesterday, was up 41 percent.But--and this is a`but' the size of Bolivia--oil production was at its lowest level in six years. In an era of aging oil fields and a teetering economy, this `but' is essential. The Financial Times served investors well in this regard. it mentioned from the outset in the first sentence how Exxon "suffered" a drop in production, noting that these "field declines" are industry wide. To its everlasting discredit, though, Marketwatch ( NWS) --and others--merely celebrate the fact that Exxon net income was up sharply, focusing on that and that alone. But missing the production issue is a bit like missing an oncoming train. Oil is progressively difficult (read: more expensive) to find. As a result, production levels have cost implications going forward. Moreover, higher oil company earnings that result from pricing and not production don't bode well for the economy. In 2008, for example, prices rose as production fell and it was a contributor to the sinking of the economy. All in all, an issue too important to ignore.