Is The AP's Martin Crutsinger Lowballing Economic Growth Expectations?

On December 7, The Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger reported on a rise in factory orders and productivity growth, and quoted an expert who predicted good times ahead:
"The momentum of growth has been very strong," said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at Global Insight in Lexington, Mass. "This suggests that growth in the fourth quarter of this year and early next year will remain robust."
Two weeks later, on December 21 at 8:37 AM ET, in a report on the slight downward revision of third-quarter GDP growth from 4.3% to 4.1%, Crutsinger wrote the following, apparently for consumption by the general population, based on where it appeared (bold is mine):
Analysts believe growth has slowed substantially in the current quarter to around 3 percent, reflecting slower increases in consumer spending now that attractive auto incentives have been removed.
But in a different story filed at 11:03 AM ET today carried at Business Week, Crutsinger's tune changed a bit, and he revealed his source--someone different from the one he used in his story two weeks ago (bold is mine):
Analysts believe growth has slowed substantially in the current quarter to between 3 percent and 3.5 percent, reflecting slower increases in consumer spending now that attractive auto incentives have been removed. "Other than autos, the rest of consumer spending is doing OK," said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's in New York.
Perhaps Crutsinger went to Mr. Wyss because Mr. Behravesh at Global Insight was too optimistic for Crutsinger, who let his bias slip earlier in the Business Week piece (bold is mine):
The Bush administration, which has been on a concerted campaign to highlight the economy's strong points to bolster the president's approval ratings, said the 4.1 percent GDP growth rate was evidence of a vibrant economy.
Really? How Mr. Crutsinger knows the adminstration's motivations, which may be to go over the heads of The Mainstream Press, which has managed to keep the current 10-quarter streak of 3%-plus GDP growth one of the best-kept secrets of the decade thus far, isn't revealed. Bloomberg did the homework Crutsinger should have done, or should have reported on:
The economy will expand 3.3 percent at an annual rate from October to December, the median of 72 estimates in another Bloomberg survey.

The fact that the forecasters have consistently underestimated GDP growth during most of the 10-quarter growth streak also remains an unexplained, and unreported, mystery.

(Cross-Posted at BizzyBlog.com)

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.