As the not-so "recovery summer" draws to an end, many are scratching heads, wondering what it will take for the economy to pull out of this recession.
According to Maria Bartiromo, host of CNBC's "Closing Bell," it will be political change in Washington, D.C. In an appearance on NBC's Sept. 7 "Today," she said the best stimulus would be a Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
"This is probably the single most important catalyst for the stock market right now," Bartiromo said. "I think that the perception of confidence, the perception that perhaps we won't see tremendous change in terms of higher expenses in 2011 if we were to see the Republicans gain control of the House, it will probably be a positive for the stock market.
National Review's Rich Lowry on Sunday had a classic debate with Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne about whether or not the tax cuts implemented by former President George W. Bush should be allowed to expire.
Dionne agrees with President Obama that they should only be extended for folks making less than $250,000 a year; Lowry thinks that raising anyone's taxes right now could send the country back into recession.
With this in mind, NBC's David Gregory opened the panel segment of "Meet the Press" with a discussion about the current state of the economy and how this issue might impact the upcoming midterm elections.
As he tossed the baton to Lowry and Dionne, one got the feeling Gregory was intentionally lighting a fuse he knew would result in some entertaining fireworks (videos follow with transcripts and commentary):
Can you imagine what would happen to the economy if top wage earners were taxed at 70 to 90 percent?
Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich can, and he thinks it's a great idea.
To be sure, many Americans were concerned that giving Democrats control of the executive and legislative branches of our government during an economic crisis could usher back in socialist tendencies first seen in this nation during the Depression.
Fears of such a leftward shift sparked a new powerful movement called the Tea Party.
With this in mind, Reich's op-ed "How to End the Great Recession" published in Friday's New York Times validates these concerns:
Despite unemployment at 9.5 percent and millions of people having lost their jobs since Barack Obama was elected, Chris Matthews just doesn't understand why anyone would miss George W. Bush.
Without naming this week's PPP poll finding Ohioans would vote for Bush over Obama by the tally of 50 to 42 percent if a presidential election was held today, Matthews in the first segment of "Hardball" asked his guests, "Why would you want that back?"
When Time's Michael Scherer tried to explain logically why voters are disappointed with what Obama has done since Inauguration Day, Matthews wasn't having any of it (video follows with transcript and commentary):
An amazing thing happened on the set of ABC's "This Week" Sunday: a liberal tried to extol the benefits of President Obama's unrestrained federal spending only to get completely smacked down by the entire panel.
Host Christiane Amanpour began the Roundtable segment of the program by showing some of last week's horrendous economic numbers, and opened the debate about what can be done to improve the current condition.
When Democrat strategist Donna Brazile got her turn at the plate, she uttered the same nonsense Americans have been hearing from her ilk for approaching two years:
Congress is divided. They are afraid to put more money back into the system, although most Americans should know by now that the stimulus did create or save 2 million to 4 million jobs, averted the Great Depression 2.0, but Congress doesn't have the appetite to put more money into the system.
The other panelists - George Will, President of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass, "Nightly Business Report" host Susie Gharib, and even Amanpour - weren't buying it (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's first full day as the only person in the whole wide world with any kind of influence over what happens in the economy didn't go too badly.
That's the impression one might get from consuming two Friday Associated dispatches and a related AP Video.
Bernanke apparently took full charge of anything and everything having to do with the economy on Thursday evening. As noted early Friday morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), two Thursday afternoon dispatches from the wire service in advance of the government's Friday morning GDP report widely predicted to contain news of a significant downward revision to second-quarter economic growth placed surreal importance on the content of a speech he was to give Friday morning shortly after that report's release. The names of President Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Tim Geithner, and Larry Summers were totally absent from both reports.
Friday, in the wake of the downward revision of second-quarter GDP from an annualized 2.4% to 1.6%, AP's primary economic report about Bernanke's apparent first day as Emperor-in-Chief again failed to name the five folks just mentioned, as did a one-minute video from Mark Hamrick found here (after a 30-second commercial).
Here is some of what Christopher Rugaber, with assists from Jeannine Aversa and Alan Zibel, wrote about Ben's big day:
On the same day the Commerce Department dramatically revised down second quarter Gross Domestic Product estimates, New York Times columnist David Brooks published a stinging rebuke of Obama economic policies.
"The American stimulus package was supposed to create a 'summer of recovery,' according to Obama administration officials," wrote Brooks.
"Job growth was supposed to be surging at up to 500,000 a month," he continued. "Instead, the U.S. economy is scuffling along."
Scuffling is putting it mildly, for it was announced Friday that the GDP only grew by a pathetic 1.6 percent last quarter which was down from previous estimates of 2.4 percent.
With this in mind, Brooks' column was not only spot on, but a surprising indictment of everything the Obama administration has done since Inauguration Day:
Sometimes you just have to chuckle at the transparent motivations of business writers in the establishment press.
Two Associated Press reports from this afternoon, one from Stephen Bernard and another much lengthier piece from Jeannine Aversa, attempt to set the template for Friday morning's reportage: Despite all the bad news, including a serious downward revision to second-quarter economic growth, it's up to Big Ben Bernanke to calm everyone down, and magically return the economy to some kind of even keel.
Better strap in because we could be on a wild ride if what some economic prognosticators are saying is true - not just on a financial market basis, but politically as well.
Noted economist Nouriel Roubini has upped his forecast the economy could head into a double-dip recession. And CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer is predicting mass panic in the markets after tomorrow's gross domestic product report tomorrow. So based on a lot of this, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer suggested that economic fears have returned to the public. He was asked by Fox News Channel's "Special Report" host Bret Baier what all the negative data meant.
"Historically high and number of unemployed for more than six months also historically very, very high," Krauthammer said on the Aug. 26 broadcast of "Special Report." "I think there is something new happening in terms of the economy, at least the perception of it and that is a return of fear."
It is a curious phenomenon - the way the media have handled the economy since President Barack Obama has taken office. Generally the coverage has been on the optimistic side over the last 18 months. But could this blind optimism come back to haunt people that trade on economic metrics?
According to CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer, it will and in a big way on Aug. 27, when the new gross domestic product numbers are released. On CNBC's Aug. 26 broadcast of "Street Signs," Cramer predicted dismal numbers during his "Stop Trading" segment, which has been contrary to the way the market reacted.
"Look, I'm going to give you my forecast right now - I think we're going to get 0.5 percent GDP, OK?" Cramer said. "But, let's say we get 0.5 percent GDP. Everyone's going to say it's horrible. We're going to go track down economists, Nobel winners who think it's a double dip. And it'll be like shocker - 0.5 percent. And I'm telling you it's going to be 0.5 percent. It's like the housing number. On my show I said it's going to be declined 50 percent. We get 30 percent. It was like shocker. Whoever is making these estimates is just so wrong because you know, you piece these pieces together on a daily basis like I do and come up with something between zero and 1 percent growth."
As the Obama administration’s “Recovery Summer” crumbles, CBS’s Early Show on Thursday noted how the poor economic data has made many Americans deeply pessimistic about the future, with 37% saying that the economy “is in permanent decline.”
So does that mean Obama's $862 billion stimulus is a failure? Not according to economist Mark Zandi, who was interviewed by co-host Erica Hill. Zandi asserted that “the recession ended about a year ago, in large part because of the stimulus efforts,” and the current sluggishness was because “the stimulus is now fading,” and thus “the benefit to growth is winding down.”
Of course, Zandi has been a consistent enthusiast for the stimulus, as far back as early 2009, a fact which was not disclosed today. “We need stimulus,” Zandi championed on the January 28, 2009 Early Show. “It’s about preserving jobs.”
July's bad news in new home sales is even worse than it first appears.
The seasonally adjusted annual rate of 276,000 units is bad enough. That is an all-time low since records have been kept and 12% lower than June's annual rate. It's also lower than what analysts predicted by about the same percentage. The lazy business press is running with those figures.
But, as has been the case so many other times, it takes a trip to the raw (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) data, this time at the Census Bureau (large PDF), to fully comprehend the extent of the new-home market's collapse during this big, fat failed "Recovery Summer."
The raw data shows that 25,000 new homes were sold in the U.S. in July. That's not a typo, and it really is the figure for the entire country. Worse, that figure, the lowest July since records have been kept, is down by over one-third from July of last year, when the economy supposedly bottomed out, and by 42% from July 2008. I don't think you'll see those facts reported today.
Here is a graphic cap of a 10:07 a.m. report at Reuters carried at CNBC.com. It contains a jaw-dropper of a quote from an economist (red box is obviously mine):
The New York Times on Tuesday declared what most conservatives knew would happen if Democrats took control of both Congress and the White House: "more Americans - and not just the rich - are going to have to pay more taxes."
In its editorial comically titled "A Real Debate on Taxes," the Times predictably argued for a total elimination of the Bush tax cuts, although it favored some partial delay to this given the precarious state of the economy.
That in itself was humorous as the Times clearly seems to get that raising taxes is indeed economically damaging.
Yet maybe more telling was how this "real debate" didn't once involve the spending side of the budget:
David Gregory on Sunday finally got an answer to his question about extending the Bush tax cuts, but it certainly wasn't what he was expecting.
For those that have been watching "Meet the Press" this month, the host has been grilling his conservative guests about this issue ever since former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told him on August 1 that tax cuts don't pay for themselves.
Having badgered Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) about this earlier in the program with no success, Gregory broached the subject with former House Majority Leader Dick Armey in a subsequent segment.
With a hanging curveball coming into his wheelhouse, Armey whacked a long drive that still hasn't landed (video follows with transcript and commentary):
What kind of shameless shill do you have to be to claim the President is on a winning streak as his poll numbers plummet, the economy teeters on a double-dip recession, and his Party is facing historic losses in both chambers of Congress?
A Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and former managing editor of the Washington Post, that's who.
Consider that just days after numerous polls were released showing America's confidence in Barack Obama at an all-time low, and stallwart supporters such as CNN and the New York Times' Maureen Dowd claimed that even George W. Bush was better at delivering a coherent message to the American people, Eugene Robinson wrote the following Friday:
Are even the most liberal media members starting to realize the administration's "Recovery Summer" campaign was a complete joke?
Such appears to be the case for New York Times columnist Bob Herbert who on Saturday published a piece absolutely excoriating President Obama for not exclusively focusing on jobs after his inauguration last year:
The Obama administration seems to be feeling sorry for itself. Robert Gibbs, the president's press secretary, is perturbed that Mr. Obama is not getting more hosannas from liberals. Spare me. The country is a mess. The economy is horrendous, and millions of American families are running out of ammunition in their fight against destitution. Steadily increasing numbers of middle-class families, who never thought they'd be seeking charity, have been showing up at food pantries.
In late 2009, when high rates of unemployment began looking like a sad fact of life for the foreseeable future, the media started looking for ways to put a positive spin on the situation.
Sure, many had predicted the next great depression when unemployment stood at around 6 percent in 2008, but with Democrats in control of the White House and Congress, a number of reporters suddenly found the recession's many silver linings.
"All I Want for Christmas Is a Layoff" read the headline of one ABCNews.com column following employees who would rather get a nice severance package than continue in their dull vocations. Newsweek cheerily noted that since men had been hit harder by the recession than women, they would now be able to help out around the house. The Los Angeles Times coined possibly the most absurd term of the recession to date in "funemployment," and discussed jobless Americans who prefer "hitting the beach" to "punching the clock."
Now the New York Times is celebrating the fact that the 90.5 percent of those who are employed are seeing a pleasant rise in their wages. See, the recession's not that bad.
Keith Olbermann on Thursday cherry-picked an article by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich to make a pathetic case that Republicans are targeting and blaming unemployed Americans for the country's economic woes.
In his opening "Countdown" segment on MSNBC, the host began, "When it came time to invade, Republicans used cherry-picked intelligence to make the case for war in Iraq. Now, they`re using cherry-picked intelligence to wage war on the middle class."
Particularly in Olbermann's crosshairs was Gingrich who the "Countdown" host claimed "targeted one individual American who`s struggling to make ends meet and held him up as part of the problem."
Ironically, it was Olbermann that was guilty of cherry-picking as he quoted a very tiny portion of a Human Events article the former Speaker wrote Wednesday (video follows with commentary and full transcript at conclusion):
Ed Schultz on Thursday blamed Republicans for all the unemployed people living in America today.
As he began the most recent installment of the "Ed Show" on MSNBC, the host said, "The Republican Party has been on a crusade against the middle class and the poor for the last 30 years. We're now seeing the wreckage of that race to the bottom line culture."
He disgracefully continued, "Today a government report showed weekly jobless claims at a five-month high. 484,000 new unemployment claims were filed in the week ending August 7th. And you know what folks, you can lay this right at the feet, right at the altar of the Republican Party."
Sadly, he wasn't close to done, claiming, "The people you see flooding the streets begging for help, begging for an opportunity are victims of the Republican agenda just to make sure that President Obama fails" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Republican Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has struck back at Paul Krugman calling the New York Times columnist "intellectually lazy."
As NewsBusters reported Saturday, Krugman wrote an article the previous day castigating Ryan as "The Flimflam Man" calling the Congressman a "charlatan" and a "fraud" while claiming his "Roadmap" to balance the nation's budget was "drenched in flimflam sauce."
Krugman's criticisms of the Republican rising star were of course praised by all manner of media member from the shills at MSNBC to the sycophants in the liberal blogosphere.
Liberal publisher Arianna Huffington on Monday displayed an absolutely staggering ignorance of business, taxes, and economics.
Appearing on MSNBC's "Countdown" to discuss Republican plans to stimulate the economy and curb the exploding budget deficits, Huffington was sarcastically asked by Keith Olbermann, "Does Huffington Post hire more people when your personal tax rate changes?"
Realizing the host was mocking the GOP's desire to extend the Bush tax cuts to all wage earners including those making over $250,000 a year, Huffington replied, "Huffington Post operates like most American businesses which is that our hiring practices have nothing to do with the income or the tax rate of the people who are running the business."
Ironically, the liberal publisher contradicted herself in the very next breath (video follows with transcript and commentary):
As media make their case to the American people that the Bush tax cuts should expire, one of the strategies being employed is to claim that Republicans are refusing to "pay for" their extension.
A perfect example of this tactic was seen on Sunday's "Meet the Press" when host David Gregory badgered House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Oh.) on this subject for over three minutes.
After playing a clip from the previous week's program when former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan said that he's against tax cuts "with borrowed money," Gregory proceeded to hammer his guest on this issue (video follows with transcript and commentary):
For the media, "Mission Accomplished" represents everything that was wrong with the George W. Bush administration and its war policy. The image of Bush declaring unequivocal victory mere weeks after the invasion of Iraq has been ballyhooed as a visual representation of Bush's arrogance, naivete, even dishonesty (the media contrived most of this meme - more on that below).
Will Barack Obama have a "Mission Accomplished" moment? That is, will the media seize on something he or his administration has said as evidence of the large gap between his rhetoric and the effects of his policies and tout it for years to come as indicative of his flawed style of governing?
The gap already exists. The White House's "Recovery Summer" initiative and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's statement, "welcome to the recovery" are completely divorced from economic reality. The only question is whether the media will seize on the catchy and baseless slogans (the two criteria of the "Mission Accomplished" media standard) coming from the White House to illustrate the sizable gap between this administration's rhetoric, and the facts on ground, so to speak.
As media predictably pound the table for Congress to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire, an interesting analysis by Washington Post contributor Robert J. Samuelson should raise a caution flag.
Higher taxes inhibit couples from having children which in other developed nations has led to longterm economic paralysis.
In a western civilization that got drunk on entitlement programs in the previous century, population growth is essential as all of these schemes have a Ponzi component to them: they only work if you continually have new people entering the system to pay for those collecting benefits.
As Samuelson outlined in the Post Monday, our federal income tax structure is quite at odds with our best interests as a nation:
Despite unemployment sitting at 9.5 percent and over 3 million jobs lost since this President was inaugurated, Newsweek's Howard Fineman says the economic policies enacted by Barack Obama "were good ones and smart ones and saved the day."
Chatting with MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Friday's "Countdown," Fineman was nicely set up by the shill asking the questions.
"Does anyone -- can anyone actually believe that the Democrats had then done nothing and had maintained that status quo that the current economic situation would be better instead of worse?"
With the ball positioned nicely on the tee, Fineman chunked a drive into the water on the left (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Initial requests for jobless benefits rose last week to their highest level since April, a sign that hiring remains weak and some companies are still cutting workers.
The Labor Department said Thursday that new claims for unemployment insurance rose by 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 479,000. Analysts had expected a small drop. Claims have risen twice in the past three weeks.
George Will and Paul Krugman had another showdown about fiscal policy on Sunday, and the ABC contributor made it crystal clear to viewers that he doesn't agree with the perilously liberal New York Times columnist.
As the Roundtable segment of "This Week" moved to a discussion of whether more economic stimulus is needed versus deficit reduction, Krugman made his predictable request for the former.
After Will made a strong point about the economy being "unusually weak for a recovery after a severe downturn," he said one of the reasons is "the consumer in his native perversity has begun to save" rather than spend.
Krugman responded, "Just wanted to say, George, it's exactly what I would have done in describing it."
Will smartly countered, "Lest it be thought that Paul and I agree on something," and this is where the fun began (video follows with partial transcript and commentary):