NBC Rains on Rate Cut: ‘Beware of the Downside of Any Economic Upturn’

In case you were out of the country and missed it, the Federal Reserve on Tuesday surprisingly cut two key interest rates by a half percentage point - twice what most analysts expected - causing one of the largest one-day rallies on Wall Street in years.

Yet, the folks on the "NBC Nightly News" seemed a tad unhappy with the Fed's move, as anchor Brian Williams wondered "is it good for everyone," and correspondent Kevin Tibbles cautioned, "But experts say beware of the downside of any economic upturn."

I kid you not.

The News began Tuesday evening mostly with the positive side of the rate cut, bringing in CNBC's Maria Bartiromo to discuss the day's events on Wall Street. However, as Williams introduced Bartiromo, he foreshadowed the gloom to come (video available here, h/t NB reader Tim O'Donnell):

As one market watcher put it today, the Federal Reserve just might have saved Christmas. The Fed today jumped in to try to prevent a recession, to try to keep credit card bills down and mortgage rates down, and just maybe save the housing market. But will it work? The Fed cut a key interest rate today for first time in four years. They cut the rate by a half percentage point. It now stands at 4.75 percent. The stock market loved it, shot up 300 points, because it's good for business. But is it good for everyone, and how soon will we know?

Imagine what Williams might have said if they raised interest rates Tuesday.

Regardless, after Bartiromo's upbeat market analysis, the next segment focused on how lower interest rates will help the soft housing market, and other sectors of the economy impacted by consumers. Unfortunately, correspondent Kevin Tibbles exposed some dry-rot in the floorboards (video available here):

But experts say beware of the downside of any economic upturn. More demand for oil, for example, could make heating homes this winter an expensive proposition.

Tibbles spoke with a futures trader that offered a very gloomy forecast:

I don't want to soft soak it for the people that are paying heating bills. They're going to be probably paying record high prices, especially if you heat your home with heating oil. You're going to be very vulnerable. If we have a cold winter, we could see prices like we've never seen before.

Sadly, Tibbles chose not to share actual heating oil prices with viewers, or how they compared with the previous couple of years since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005. If he had (chart available here), viewers would have seen that in the past two years, heating oil has peaked roughly around this time, and precipitously declined thereafter.

This has been largely caused by speculators running prices up before winter comes in anticipation of a harsh season, and then being forced to sell when conditions ended up milder than they had hoped. As such, given that heating oil prices today are roughly the same as they were the past two falls, it is speculation on this trader's part that "we could see prices like we've never seen before."

Furthermore, Tibbles chose not to address another crucial part of the energy sector, especially as it pertains to winter, namely, natural gas. If he had (chart available here), viewers would have been informed that natural gas prices are entering this winter at the lowest level since 2003.

I guess NBC didn't feel this was important.

Add it all up, and this part of the "Nightly News's" report on Tuesday's discount rate cut was absurdly skewed toward the negative.

What follows is a full transcript of the second segment.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, ANCHOR:

Now to what today's move by what the Fed may mean far from Wall Street on the streets where Americans live. NBC's Kevin Tibbles from Chicago tonight has more on that part of the story.

Mr. CHRIS NEIL: I love the windows.

KEVIN TIBBLES, REPORTER: Today's half percentage point cut makes a world of difference to Molly Smith and Chris Neil, hoping to buy their first home.

Mr. NEIL: Man, there it is.

Ms. MOLLY SMITH: Yeah, the lower the interest...

Mr. NEIL: The better.

Ms. SMITH: The better.

TIBBLES: In anticipation of today's cuts, some mortgage rates have already dropped half a point. Buyers of a $250,000 fixed mortgage would now realize savings of about $82 a month.

While buyers shopping for a mortgage on a new condominium or home still need to qualify, the message from the Fed today is straightforward.

Ms. DIANE SWONK (Mesirow Financial): The Fed's there watching your backside, that--so whatever you buy may not fall in price as much as you're worried about or you may be able to negotiate a good deal now, it might be a good time to go in. That will help the economy.

TIBBLES: The cut is also expected to bring about a drop in home equity loan rates, car loans and credit cards, jumpstarting discretionary spending at theaters and restaurants and jumpstarting purchases. That's what they're hoping for at Cole's Appliance and furniture in Chicago.

Mr. BARRY KRASNEY (Cole's Appliance & Furniture): It will definitely be an advantage to our business, we will be seeing more people, and I think sales will climb.

TIBBLES: But experts say beware of the downside of any economic upturn. More demand for oil, for example, could make heating homes this winter an expensive proposition.

Mr. PHIL FLYNN (Alaron Futures): I don't want to soft soak it for the people that are paying heating bills. They're going to be probably paying record high prices, especially if you heat your home with heating oil. You're going to be very vulnerable. If we have a cold winter, we could see prices like we've never seen before.

TIBBLES: And while rate cuts also signal lower rates on savings accounts, analysts say for now they're looking for signs the fear is leaving the marketplace. And one sure sign of that is if consumers start spending.

Unidentified Woman: Come right into the living room. Really take it all in.

TIBBLES: Kevin Tibbles, NBC News, Chicago.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.