Can you remember where you were at any point during the four years of the Jimmy Carter presidency?
Most people who were alive don't look favorably toward the economic situation during those years. But MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews, who was gainfully employed as a member of the Carter administration, might look back a little fondly.
"According to the latest figures, America may no longer be the ‘fast food nation' that it once was," Golodryga said on the January 29 "Good Morning America." "And, it has nothing to do with going on a health diet, but everything to do with going on a spending diet."
Two Ohio towns. Identical story. That's what the AFP presented to us on Sunday and then again yesterday. On Sunday, we read this:
The streets are empty. Trash rustles down the road past rusted barbecues, abandoned furniture, sagging homes and gardens turned to weed.
This is Shaker Heights, a suburb of Cleveland and a town ravaged by the subprime mortgage crisis roiling the United States.
Faded "for sale" signs sit in front of deserted houses. The residents are gone, either in search of new jobs after the factories shut down, or in shame after being evicted for missing their mortgage payments.
A red, white and blue American flag flies over windows and doors which have been boarded up to keep the drug dealers away.
"Uncivil Discourse: Bush pressures Dems to fall in line for his final year."
That's how Newsweek.com teases a Richard Wolffe Web Exclusive analysis of President George W. Bush's final State of the Union address. Wolffe lamented the bitter partisanship in Washington, noting that the Bush-Pelosi-Boehner agreement on an economic stimulus plan was "the rare exception" of "respect and cooperation" that "is hard to find in the halls of Congress at the end of the Bush era."
Too bad, Wolffe gripes, that President Bush used his final State of the Union to chide Congress for failing to make tax cuts permanent (emphasis mine):
Recession stories have a lot in common with global warming stories - there are a lot of them and you hear only one side. And like global warming, recession is the subject of a Newsweek cover story, appearing on the front of the magazine's February 4 issue.
"The Great Global Market Freak-Out of 2008 has everyone asking whether the United States - already on the road to recession - is entering into a protracted period of economic trouble where jobs will be slashed, prices will continue to rise and the dollar will keep falling; and if so, whether the declining U.S. economy will pull the rest of the world down with it," Gross wrote. "A recession is defined as a widespread contraction in economic activity lasting more than a few months, and because of the lag in financial data, recessions typically aren't officially declared until long after they start. In short, the United States could already be in one."
It was supposed to be a bad day in the American stock markets according to CBS's "The Early Show." Guess what - they were wrong.
"Hong Kong's Hang Seng market was down more than 4 percent," Julie Chen said on the January 28 "The Early Show." "Tokyo's Nikkei index off about 4 percent. Wall Street may have a rough morning in advance of President Bush's final State of the Union address tonight. We'll be watching the markets throughout the morning."
Assuming American markets will follow the lead of any other international markets is an iffy proposition, as indicated by the performance on Wall Street today. After the gloomy forecast from "The Early Show" for the day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) finished in positive territory on January 28 - at the highs of the day, up more than 176 points. The NASDAQ and S&P 500 also finished in positive territory, both up more than 23 points.
I have referred to Mr. Wesbury's work frequently. That's because he has been, as he is today, a sober voice standing up to Old Media-driven economic hysteria with those stubborn things known as facts.
Wesbury first caught my attention when he expressed alarm in late 2005 that 43% of the country thought we were in a recession -- not about to go into one, actually in one. That same poll metric reads 35% today.
Here are some snips from his Wall Street Journal column today, making a number of points about the current economy, and reminding us that inflation has not been relegated to irrelevancy. He doesn't extensively call out Old Media's gloomy economic coverage, but I don't doubt for a minute that he considers it a major negative factor (bolds are mine):
It is hard to imagine any time in history when such rampant pessimism about the economy has existed with so little evidence of serious trouble.
Here is what Mitchell wrote (link is in original):
The mainstream media is also far too pessimistic, according to Tom Blumer, a blogger for Pajamas Media, a right-leaning Web site. On Tuesday, he quoted a routine dispassionate Reuters report about huge drops in stock index futures before the markets opened. The report, which indicated that the coming trading day might see big losses, amounted to “icing the champagne for the late afternoon,” he wrote — a typical case of the media’s seeking to “party hearty on bad news.”
That day, the Dow fell 465 points after the opening bell, then recovered somewhat as it digested the news of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate cut, closing down 128 points.
However, the glowing reception the $150-billion taxpayer-funded stimulus plan got from each of the network newscasts gave that impression last night.
"Cash is on the way," ABC's "World News" anchor Charles Gibson said. "The check is in the mail, or it will be to 117 million Americans. The president and congressional leaders reached agreement on a $150-billion economic stimulus package today. When passed by Congress, the package will result in the distribution of $100 billion to individuals and families. And it will mean businesses will get $50 billion in tax breaks."
For personal and professional reasons, it gives me absolutely no pleasure to say that I saw this coming, and that it came sooner than I thought it would.
Here's the news, assembled from wire reports by the Cincinnati Enquirer, in an article that should be entitled "Ford to Workers: Go Away" (bolds are mine throughout) --
Ford Motor Co. will offer buyout and early retirement packages to 54,000 U.S. hourly workers, or 93 percent of its hourly work force, in an effort to cut costs and replace those leaving with lower-paid workers. Thursday's announcement came as Ford said it narrowed its losses in 2007 but warned that the outlook for U.S. sales in 2008 remains grim.
The biggest news out of last night's GOP debate could be the hit taken by John McCain's reputation for straight talk.
For whatever reason, McCain chose to deny the undeniable: that on more than one occasion he has admitted not understanding the economy as well as he should. When the debate ended it took MSNBC no time to document the record. And a bit later, in the post-debate coffee klatsch, Chris Matthews and Howard Fineman unloaded on the Arizona senator for his fudging.
It's really frightening to imagine that people who get the bulk of their news from Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" will be making what they probably think are educated decisions at the ballot box come Election Day.
Stewart, who is now a self-proclaimed economist, said on his January 23 show, "Our economy is tanking." And now you can add financial media critic to Stewart's list of titles.
"For insight, I turned to the two major financial networks to find out what is going on, or as they're known around here, ‘hot ladies talk economy with bald dudes,'" Stewart said.
In a verbal tussle with Fox Business Network host Liz Claman January 24, Business & Media Institute Managing Editor Amy Menefee explained that conservatives are just looking for some balance from the media.
"You get upset when the media is skeptical about certain things and you say that that's un-American," Claman said. "Yet when we're not skeptical you're saying now, ‘Why aren't you skeptical?' Which is it?"
"Well from our perspective ... we just want to hear all the economic sides that are out there which means economists who are talking about, you know, other opportunities, other options," Menefee said about the media coverage of the economic stimulus package. "And there are plenty of economists out there right now who are saying this is not going to do much good."
Worried about finding employment after losing your job because of this gosh-awful recession we're having? Oh, you haven't lost your job yet? Yeah, we aren't actually having a recession yet, but that's just details.
"It's a bumpy ride for the American worker as well. As the economy slows the unemployment rate is rising," anchor Katie Couric said. "About 7.6 million Americans are now unemployed. That's a million more than a year ago. So what should you do if you lose your job? [CBS correspondent] Kelly Cobiella looks at some strategies for job seekers for whom this economic downturn is really hitting home."
It's quite a sight to behold when media "has-beens" start drinking the doom and gloom Kool-Aid offered up in the media.
Sam Donaldson, who covered the Reagan White House for ABC and who now is a contributor to the network's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," last night told a gathering in Georgetown that the U.S. economy is going "in the dumper" and criticized the Democratic presidential candidates for not capitalizing on it.
Billionaire investor George Soros called for more government monitoring and involvement in markets in an interview on CNBC January 23.
"Now we really have to reconsider the whole policy, which has been in my opinion misplaced, of relying on the markets to police themselves," Soros told Maria Bartiromo in Davos, Switzerland, "to recognize the risks. And there are risks which it is the job of the authorities to control, and the authorities have abdicated their responsibilities. So did the rating agencies."
Soros slammed the government for "not taking the right steps in dealing with" what he called upset financial markets. "[T]he authorities ought to move into the market makers, look at the books and make sure that the bad risks are recognized and reassure the markets that the main actors, the banks that are too big to fail, will not fail, that they will in fact be bailed out the same way as Northern Rock was bailed out even if that means wiping out the shareholders or greatly reducing their benefits."
In a "Notebook" entry at her blog on the CBS News Web site Wednesday, "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric boasted of the media's ability to predict a recession.
In spite of the fact that no one knows for sure if the U.S. economy is in a recession, Couric seemed sure the nation is facing economic hard times, and she's proud to say the media called it.
"The economy's going through one of its roughest patches in years," Couric said. "Stocks are plummeting, the Fed is slashing interest rates and the president is looking for ways to fight off a recession. But are we already in a recession?"
Liberal Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) is in trouble with the voters who elected nearly 15 months ago. In a state that is deep blue in presidential elections and has a 2:1 Democratic registration advantage, the former local Irish rocker is getting a chorus of boos from voters with poll numbers in the mid to high 30s. One major factor: the tax-hiking special legislative session he called in fall 2007.
Not to worry, Governor, the Washington Post has got your back. Here's the headline for the top Metro section story in my January 23 Maryland Home Edition of the Post:
It becomes apparent, however, that rebuilding O'Malley's positive press is high on the Post's agenda. Reporter John Wagner wrote of O'Malley's plan to take "modest steps" towards fulfilling what O'Malley insists is "protecting our priorities." Wagner takes care to focus on how a slowing economy could prove an obstacle to O'Malley's policy goals, but fails to address concerns that O'Malley's tax hikes could be part of compounding the problem by disincentivizing business from expanding or moving to the state:
In an article (HT Jim Taranto at Best of the Web) describing Ireland's emergence as an European Union powerhouse ("Entrepreneurship Takes Off in Ireland"), reporter James Flanigan of the New York Times simply could not bring himself to specifically identify one of the main reasons for the country's success (bolds are mine):
Ireland is now alive with enthusiasm for entrepreneurs, who seemingly rank just below rock stars in popularity.
..... The relatively new emphasis on entrepreneurs in Ireland is the culmination of nearly four decades of government policies that have lifted the economy from centuries of poverty to modern prosperity.
The change began when Ireland entered the European Union in 1973. In subsequent years, the government rewrote its tax policies to attract foreign investment by American corporations, made all education free through the university level and changed tax rates and used direct equity investment to encourage Irish people to set up their own businesses.
“The change came in the 1990s,” said James Murphy, founder and managing director of Lifes2Good, a marketer of drugstore products for muscle aches, hair loss and other maladies. “Taxes and interest rates came down, and all of a sudden we believed in ourselves.”
So tax rates "changed," eh? And we learn in the next paragraph that "taxes and interest rates came down," as if by some external supernatural force.
Are you noticing a chronic case of word avoidance?
Meacham appeared on Comedy Central's January 21 "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and told viewers the media gear reporting toward conflict.
"I absolutely believe that the media is not ideologically driven, but conflict driven," Meacham said. "If we have a bias it's not that people are socially liberal, fiscally conservative or vice versa. It is that we are engaged in the storytelling business. And if you tell the same story again and again and again - it's kind of boring."
After the Fed made an "emergency" 75-basis-point rate cut this morning, CNBC's "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer, who has gone from bull market cheerleader to bear market doom and gloomer in the last six months, said it was too little too late.
"[T]his is obviously the kind of action I was most fearful of - which is that they would have to go panic and that they would get way behind the curve," Cramer said on CNBC's January 22 "Squawk Box." "But, you know but once they do it, I'm less ... I can't hammer them as much. This is the kind of action if they had done it three months ago, we would have been safe."
On MSNBC's January 18 "Hardball," Cramer predicted the Dow Jones Industrial Average would decline 2,000 points over the next couple of weeks. However, he was a little less pessimistic after this rate cut.
It's no longer enough to say the economy is heading into or already is in a recession. Invoking the memory of the Great Depression has become the latest way to dramatize the economic turmoil caused by the credit markets.
Zuckerman told viewers we're heading into uncharted territory with this current credit freeze-up.
"You have the entire banking system now that is virtually frozen. And there are, not just this subprime mortgage thing, there are other things called credit default swaps where they will lose as much money, $250 billion on. The banks are frozen. They are not making loans because they have such huge debts that they have to take on to their balance sheets and nobody knows how to deal with that," he continued.
On Tuesday's Lou Dobbs Tonight, which was repeated on Sunday, CNN host Dobbs chided the media for not including illegal immigration in exit polls of Democratic voters simply because Democratic candidates have avoided discussing the issue to prevent, according to Bill Schneider, "stirring up a lot of passion," and relayed that he had pressured CNN into including the issue in other polling two years ago. Dobbs: "Would it surprise you if I were to tell you right here in front of God and everybody I had to convince CNN a couple of years ago to include illegal immigration in a poll because we didn't even in this organization believe it was an important issue, some of us didn't?" He even got Schneider to agree with his contention that the media's "complicity with that motive" of the Democratic candidates in ignoring the issue should "bring a sense of shame to these [media] organizations." (Transcript follows)
During a live interview on Friday's American Morning, Fred Thompson lived up to his reputation as the GOP presidential candidate most willing to challenge the media, as the former Senator complained to CNN anchor John Roberts that the show used a clip of him joking about Fed Chair Ben Bernanke to make it appear Thompson was not interested in a stimulus package for the economy. Thompson: "You sit there and you take an hour's worth of tape, of course, and we have a little fun every once in a while, and sometimes you guys pick that out and have a little fun with it yourself..." When Roberts suggested he was being "dismissive" of a stimulus package, Thompson continued: "You know better than that. ... From time to time, things come up, and I poke fun at it... And you guys pick it out, you know, and leave it lying out there. We proceeded to talk about the economy and talk about a stimulus package, which I've been talking about for two or three days, but if this is your highlight event, it's your highlight event." (Transcript follows)
Of course, Cramer is a regular on NBC's "Today" and "Nightly News" as an expert on the economy. On December 19, Cramer appeared on "Today" and was very critical of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke for not cutting interest rates more than a quarter point. In another "Today" appearance on January 17, he declared the economy was in a recession, a 180-degree change from his comments earlier in the month when he declared "sunny skies" were ahead for the economy.