Update: SEE Editor's Note at bottom of post for related MRC content.
1Q07 Home Prices Up 0.5%, 4.3% Over 12 Months Ago
Those looking for a pervasive and severe nationwide decline in home prices are going to have to keep looking.
The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) just released its House Price Index (PDF) for the first quarter of 2007. This most comprehensive of home-price reports shows that nationwide prices increased 0.45% (rounded to 0.5% in the announcement) in the first quarter of this year, and went up 4.25% (rounded to 4.3% in the announcement) in the past four quarters.
Core inflation during those two time periods was 0.6% and 2.5%, respectively. OFHEO says that inflation excluding only shelter costs only rose 1.6% during the past year.
Context (from Pages 4 and 5 of the report):
From 1990 through 1997, reported four-quarter appreciation was less than the 4.25% just reported 28 out of 32 times.
During that same time period, individual-quarter appreciation was less than the 0.45% just reported 14 out of 32 times -- including six nationwide quarterly declines.
I recall no discussions of pervasive real estate "bubbles" or fears of steep, widespread declines during the 1990s.
"Over Ginsburg's Dissent, Court Limits Bias Suits," blared the May 30 front page headline by the Washington Post Supreme Court reporter Robert Barnes. While the 5-4 ruling in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.
hinged on a plain and simple application of a 1964 federal law, Barnes
front-loaded his article with the dissent of liberal Associate Justice
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, buried the majority's rationale deep in the
article after pro-Ginsburg feminist talking points, failed to include
comment from Goodyear Tire, and gave readers an unbalanced portrait of
the ruling focused on feminist reaction.
Let's take a look at how Barnes's bias unfolded, starting with the lede and second paragraph:
Politicians like Nancy Pelosi who carp about high gas prices and brood about gouging while simultaneously bemoaning global warming are hypocrites. That's the gist of Robert J. Samuelson's column in today's Washington Post. The actual title is A Full Tank of Hypocrisy, but the teaser headline for it on the online op-ed home page is "The Case for Gouging."
Samuelson in fact disputes that gouging, in the sense of collusion among oil producers/refiners, is taking place. He points out, for example, that concentration of ownership in the oil industry has been deemed low-to-moderate, "less concentrated than the auto industry, which is considered intensely competitive." But the long-time WaPo columnist does make the case than many politicians in the global-warming crowd are engaging in some have-it-both-ways hypocrisy on the issue of higher gasoline prices.
If you've been listening to the news, you might be surprised that the national average for gas is $3.20 - not $4 or more. Media hype of rising gas prices included predictions of $4, $5 and even higher national averages for gasoline.
MRC Business & Media Institute director and Newsbusters contributor Dan Gainor appeared on Fox's "Your World with Neil Cavuto" on May 28, 2007 to combat the hype.
"Nobody's saying gas prices aren't high. What we're saying is for the last couple years the media have warned us about $4 a gallon, $5, $6 - even $7 a gallon gas. It's never topped more than $3.22 and it's actually dropped in the last couple days," Gainor told viewers.
As global warming alarmists in the media and on tour buses enflame hysteria concerning a nonexistent climate crisis, there is an inconvenient truth they routinely ignore: carbon dioxide emission reductions will hurt economies across the globe while worsening poverty.
This seemingly immutable fact, which continually eludes the deluded such as soon-to-be-Dr. Al Gore and his band of not so merry sycophants, is understood by India which has up to this point refused to participate in any emissions requirements set forth by the United Nations.
As reported by Australia’s Herald Sun Tuesday (h/t Benny Peiser):
In an excellent investigative report last Sunday (may require free registration) that is part of a series on how "how businesses and investors seek to profit from the soaring number of older Americans, in ways helpful and harmful," the New York Times' Charles Duhigg exposed the despicable tactics of elder-scam artists and the "information services" companies that supply them the "sucker lists" they need.
He may not have known that he was simultaneously exposing information that could, and arguably should, damage the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.
Duhigg led with the truly sad story of 92 year-old Richard Guthrie:
..... He ended up on scam artists’ lists because his name, like millions of others, was sold by large companies to telemarketing criminals, who then turned to major banks to steal his life’s savings.
On the top right of Friday’s front page of The New York Times is a story headlined "Immigration Bill Provisions Gain Wide Support In Poll: Majority Favors Path to Legal Status for Illegal Aliens." Reporters Julia Preston and Marjorie Connelly wrote the story in a way that framed the poll like a memo to Congress, saying "Please pass the bill, the polling water’s warm."
The reporters claim the American public is "taking a pragmatic stand on a divisive issue," which could be interpreted to mean they change their answers based on how the poll question is phrased. It's so divisive individual voters have two different opinions depending on the pollster's lingo. But Preston and Connelly began by insisting: "As opponents from the right and left challenge an immigration bill before Congress, there is broad support among Americans – Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike – for the major provisions in the legislation."
On May 15, NewsBusters noted that the press were missing the seemingly obvious connection between higher gasoline prices and the federally mandated use of ethanol.
In doing so, they were also mysteriously passing on a fine opportunity to bash the Bush administration, something that obviously defied logic and precedent.
Well, it appears nine days later the folks at the New York Times recognized this oversight, and published a front-page business section article entitled “Oil Industry Says Biofuel Push May Hurt at Pump” (emphasis added throughout):
That's right. Bubble, shmubble, despite this picture from Matt Drudge, who got snookered on this one:
Fire sales, schmire sales.
The Chief Snookerer in the latest search for the elusive housing bubble is Martin Crutsinger of the Associated Press, with a significant assist from the Commerce Department (link is to a PDF), which inexplicably did not, and apparently does not, report the regional sales data needed for a more detailed look.
Crutsinger took Commerce's housing report showing a significant decline in the nationwide median selling price of a new home, both in the past month and year over year, and ran with it at an all-out sprint (bold is mine):
The American left loves to chant "no blood for oil." But those same liberals would eagerly sacrifice American interests in the name of . . . a cheaper Caesar salad.
Take this morning's report on CNN which came at about 7:35 am EDT. Entitled "Farm-Fresh Problems," the segment, narrated by CNN's Chris Lawrence, focused on the lack of illegal immigrant labor to harvest California's fruit and vegetable crops.
CNN REPORTER CHRIS LAWRENCE: California harvests about half the nation's fruits and vegetables and every summer, farmers need half-a-million workers to pick those crops. But the crackdown on illegal immigrants is keeping workers out of their fields, leaving unpicked fruit left to rot.
HENRY VEGA [California farmer]: They're definitely worried about being raided and deported.
It has been over three weeks since the fundamental claim of the "Food Stamp Challenge" was debunked, first by Mona Charen in her syndicated column, then in more detail by yours truly (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog). Yet the "Food Stamp Challenge" has spread.
As noted in this NPR report from April 23, it all started in Oregon. That state's governor, Ted Kulongoski, joined in and put on quite a show, getting plenty of Old Media attention (Associated Press; New York Times [may require free registration]) as he tried to buy a week's worth of groceries with $21, because that was said to be what "the state’s average food stamp recipient spends weekly on groceries."
The Challenge's claim that the average Food Stamp recipient's benefit of $21 per person per week is all that beneficiaries have available for purchasing food is incorrect, as anyone visiting the USDA's web site could have learned very easily.
As I noted in late April, the Food Stamp Program’s "Fact Sheet on Resources, Income and Benefits" provides a table of "Maximum Monthly Allotments" (i.e., benefits), and says the following about benefit levels (bold is mine; I converted the Monthly Allotments to weekly allotments per person by dividing by the average number of weeks in a month [4.345], and then by the number of people):
Back on April 23, as NewsBuster Scott Whitlock noted at the time, ABC’s Diane Sawyer fretted about the supposedly sky-high stock market. “Is this the thrill before the meltdown?” she panicked. “What should you do this morning to protect your money?” ABC's on-screen graphic ridiculously wondered: "Is Unstoppable Market Good or Bad?"
Today, an Investor’s Business Daily editorial mocks Sawyer’s Chicken Little approach. “We’re still waiting for the ‘meltdown’ that ‘Good Morning America’ stock guru Diane Sawyer was warning us about a month (and 600 Dow points) ago, when she devoted a segment to what we should do ‘to protect our money.’”
USA Today’s article on the “generation gap” in income and wealth has the power to revolutionize media coverage of “income inequality.” It’s not inequality between people in general that’s growing, Dennis Cauchon’s report said – it’s inequality between generations. Young people are delaying careers for more education, marrying later and even getting their inheritances later. Meanwhile, retirees are living longer and living off the payments of those same youngsters.
Don't you dare call Mika Brzezinski a mere newsreader. Beyond simply enunciating words off the teleprompter, the MSNBC host doesn't hesitate to share her [left-leaning] views with viewers, too.
Take a segment that aired at 3:35 pm EDT today on the topic of gasoline prices. Introducing the discussion, Mika expressed her shock and outrage that sales of SUVs have recently risen despite relatively high gas prices. PoutedMika: "what's wrong with these people? Why do they need them?"
Mika's guest was Tyson Slocum of the liberal Public Citizen group, which is headed by Joan Claybrook, a former Carter administration official. Mika, of course, is the daughter of another Carter administration official, former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. A couple members of the extended Carter-administration family, having a friendly chat on a day the former president is making headlines for breaking the unwritten taboo on past White House occupants bashing the incumbent.
As Al Gore and his band of not so merry global warming alarmists in buses and in the press try to convince Americans that they need to alter behaviors in order to save the planet, an inconvenient truth is being cynically withheld: this is going to cost a lot of money.
Of course, one of the delicious hypocrisies is that these are the same people who decry the current economic boom as only helping the rich, and state regularly and fervently that the poor and middle-class are being left behind.
At the same time, such mid- to lower-level wage earners should be saddled with exorbitant additional expenses to shelter them from a wolf that might never come knocking at their doors.
Makes sense, right?
With that in mind, the Chicago Tribune’s Laurie Goering wrote a fabulous piece recently exposing some of the potential costs of this exercise that most media don’t want you to know (emphasis added throughout, h/t Benny Peiser):
You haven't heard of Robert E. Murray? That's not surprising.
If there were an open dialog instead of continual blather about "settled science" when it comes to supposedly human-induced "climate change" and "global warming" (two concepts I like to collectively refer to as "globaloney"), Murray would have visibility. But, as Strassel writes, a different "climate," the political one, appears to be keeping him largely out of the public eye, despite his best efforts to break through.
You see, Robert Murray is a coal-company executive who has first-hand experience with what will happen on a much broader scale if the radical changes envisioned by Al Gore and others (whom I like to refer to as "globalarmists") ever get enacted:
There was a summit between Russia’s Vladimir Putin and the leaders of the European Union on Friday that yielded as little results as it did attention from America’s media.
One of the issues on the table was whether Russia is going to provide more energy resources to EU nations starved for such.
Didn’t hear about this?
Well, that’s not surprising, for in the midst of the media’s ongoing attempts to create global warming hysteria while pushing the U.S. to participate in the Kyoto Protocol, our press have little interest in reporting how energy politics across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are threatening economies around the globe.
Contrary to most American media that ignored this dicey subject, the BBC covered the following Associated Press article Friday (emphasis added):
Although the Kelo v. New London Supreme Court ruling almost two years ago caused an outpouring of outrage that still resonates nationwide, what has happened in New London itself in the wake of the decision has, with rare exception, received relatively little coverage outside of the state of Connecticut or, in a few instances, New England.
It isn't as if there haven't been many noteworthy developments after the decision was handed down. To start, here is a rundown of events that ultimately led to last summer's settlement:
Within a month of the decision, the New London Development Corporation (NLDC) notified the Kelo holdouts that since they had been living on land that they didn't own during the duration of the lawsuit, they were liable for back rents during that entire time, in some cases amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. This outrage, originally noted in local Connecticut weekly whose article link is no longer available, got no national attention until bloggers took note of it (here, here, and here, to name a few) and percolated it to the higher levels of the blogosphere (examples here [f-bomb warning] and here). Even then, Old Media, with few exceptions, one of them being this USA Today editorial, gave this shocking example of bureaucratic chutzpah little notice.
As gas prices are on a springtime upswing and the summer driving season is upon us, NewsBusters and the Media Research Center's Business & Media Institute have documented the media's persistent hype about gas prices.
Appearing on Good Morning America today, Geraldo Rivera claimed that illegal aliens in the United States are "law abiding." Is he right?
In a debate moderated by GMA co-host Diane Sawyer that began today at about 7:15 am EDT, Geraldo faced off against Glenn Beck. Rivera made a case for letting the estimated 12 million illegal aliens remain in the country.
GERALDO RIVERA: We have 12 million people who are gainfully employed; the vast majority of them are. I submit to you that these people are a vital part of the American economy. That they are doing jobs that essentially Americans don't want. Americans are fully employed. To lose these 12 million hard-working people, law-abiding, family people, socially-conservative people in many ways, I think would be a travesty.
When Beck challenged Geraldo's law-abiding claim, pointing to the three illegal aliens who were among the al Qaeda-inspired terrorists planning to attack Fort Dix, Rivera retorted that the fence Beck favors wouldn't have kept them out, since they came in through JFK airport.
In the unlikely event John Edwards is elected the next president of the United States, don't look for Dee Dee Myers twirling on the dance floor with him at the Inaugural Ball. Appearing on this morning's "Today," the former Clinton press secretary took some serious shots at the former senator from North Carolina.
At about 7:08 am EDT this morning, Meredith Vieira began a tour of the presidential horizon with Myers and conservative commentator and radio talk show host Laura Ingraham. Talk turned to Edwards, and Vieira framed the issue in a manner not particularly flattering to the ex-trial lawyer.
Interviewing Shell Oil's president on this morning's Today show, NBC's Meredith Vieira cited Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer's "Big Oil" conspiracy theory, worried America's "addiction to oil" was "dangerous," and altogether added fuel to the fire that oil company execs, "were a bunch of thieves." Appearing in the 7am half-hour, Shell Oil president John Hofmeister, for the most part, explained the basic economics of the oil business to viewers but that didn't stop Vieira from throwing out conspiratorial charges from left-field.
After asking if Hofmeister thought the price of gas was "reasonable," Vieira launched into the conspiracy theories:
Vieira: "Let's talk about the refineries for a minute because there's been a lot of controversy about them. Maintenance problems at refineries around the country. There are some people, consumer activists, some analysts and even some politicians like Senator Schumer here in New York, who believe that the oil companies are basically holding back the production of gas, they're slow on repairs of their refineries, to keep the price of gas high. Senator Schumer has not gone so far as to say that the oil companies are in collusion but he did say, quote, 'that they wink at each other and do the same thing.' First I'd like your response to that."
A cartoon in the May 13 "Sunday Briefing" on page F2 of the Washington Post furthered a left-wing talking point against "Big Oil" that a comprehensive study by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) debunked last year: that oil companies artificially manipulate gas prices by squeezing supply.
A cartoon from the Newark Star-Ledger's Drew Sheneman depicts a man fueling his car asking a cigar-smoking "Oil Co." representative, "Why do gas prices always go up right before the summer vacation season?" "Coincidence," replies the oil executive, as he stands atop the fuel line, bottlenecking the gas on its way to the motorist's car. The price atop the pump reads $3.50.
The implication, of course, is that the petroleum industry artificially bottlenecks supply to jack up fuel costs.
But that's not true, previous probes into allegations of price gouging have determined, including a May 22, 2006 FTC study of post-Hurricane Katrina gas prices.
Among the major conclusions, the FTC post-Katrina found:
Perhaps you read this week that in April, the US Treasury reported all-time-record tax collections of $383.6 billion.
If you did, you didn't read it in the dead-trees version of the New York Times. The Old Grey Lady did not deem Thursday afternoon's news "fit to print" on Friday (requires free registration), even choosing not to carry the related Associated Press report that is the main topic of this post (even though the Time posted it online Thursday evening). A Times search on "April treasury" (not in quotes) shows no evidence of any other coverage since then, nor does Sunday's Business home page.
So, unless you happened to read a brief report from MarketWatch (requires registration) or subscribe to the Wall Street Journal (requires subscription), odds are that anything you read or heard about April's Monthly Treasury Statement came from the aforementioned AP report, written by good old Martin Crutsinger (some previous examples of Crutsinger's demonstrated bias and ignorance are here, here, here, and here).
Crutsinger's full report is here. Before I get to his biggest oversight, here are the report's relatively minor (I'm not kidding) shortcomings:
"World News" anchor Charles Gibson promoted the costly green lifestyle, but ignored the hypocrisy of his cross-country flight to report on May 9.
Gibson traveled from New York, to San Francisco for the "Going Green" segment, which featured one man who has "no idea how much" carbon he emits; and another who drives a hybrid, uses solar panels and buys "squiggly" light bulbs.
The ABC anchor supported the choices of Peter Boyd (the one with the solar panels), but left out cost information about those lifestyle choices, and his own jet-setting behavior.
In fact, the solar energy situation in California is "a mess," according to the Los Angeles Times.
Last night, CBS "Evening News" and ABC "World News with Charles Gibson" hyped rising gas prices, saying that the national average price was "just two cents short of the record."
Too bad they were both wrong because they didn't factor in inflation. The national average on May 7 was actually 17 cents below the inflation adjusted record high price from March 1981: $3.22 per gallon.
Anthony Mason's CBS report also proved he needs a calculator and possibly a math tutor.
Mason interviewed Mike Gorgia of Staten Island who regularly tracks his area's gas prices for GasBuddy.com. Mason said Gorgia saves a whopping $500 a year by shopping around for his gasoline.
Hold on -- $500? That doesn't exactly sound like a representative example.
The average American uses 500 gallons of gas each year, according to the Energy Information Administration. So if Gorgia is an "average American" he must be saving a full dollar on every gallon of gasoline.
As already noted on NewsBusters, Diane Sawyer made an absurd comparison on Tuesday’s "Good Morning America" when she linked the current rising stock markets with the period of time before the historic 1929 market crash. The GMA host, talking to ABC analyst Mellody Hobson, fearfully wondered, "Did you know that the stock market has hit a milestone reminiscent of what happened before the big crash?"
Except, it’s not at all reminiscent of the "big crash." From 2000, through 2007, the Dow rose from 10, 577 to 13, 312. That’s an average annual increase of 3.7 percent. In the seven years prior to the 1929 crash, the market spiked from 100 to 381, growing over 40 percent yearly. The rate of increase is over 10 times more than the current levels.So, when Sawyer concluded that "1929 was the big crash and this is reminiscent of what happened before that," her comparison isn't just wrong, it's also nonsensical.
With gasoline prices going up, Diane Sawyer worries they will continue to rise. With stock prices going up, the same Sawyer worries they will experience a crash of historic proportions.
Sawyer's guest on Good Morning America today at 7:15 AM EDT was Mellody Hobson, a GMA financial contributor. Here's how Sawyer kicked things off.
GMA CO-HOST DIANE SAWYER: Will runaway gas prices keep soaring, and did you know that the stock market has hit a milestone reminiscent of what happened before the big Crash? Let's start with gasoline prices. On Monday the average price of gasoline hit $3.05 per gallon, just two cents less than the record. . . Is this going to keep happening, keep going up?
A May 7 article by Los Angeles Times reporter Jordan Rau tiptoed around selfish motivations that a big business coalition may have for pushing more government involvement in healthcare. Indeed, Rau presented the political manuever as a break from business reticence to "healthcare reform."
What's more, nowhere in his article did the Times reporter label the government mandate-heavy plan
a "liberal" policy nor did he seek experts to quantify the direct cost
to taxpayers nor the indirect cost to consumers (in increased prices
for goods and services).
"Abandoning the business lobby's traditional resistance to healthcare reform, a new coalition of 36 major companies plans to launch a political campaign today calling for medical insurance to be expanded to everyone along lines Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing for California," Rau began his article, referring to a coalition led by Safeway grocery chain chairman Steve Burd.
Global warming derangement syndrome has taken a disturbing turn for the worse, as The Sunday Times published an article May 6 stating that parents should only have two children in order to avert climate change.
HAVING large families should be frowned upon as an environmental misdemeanour in the same way as frequent long-haul flights, driving a big car and failing to reuse plastic bags, says a report to be published today by a green think tank.
Amazed? That was only the beginning (emphasis added throughout):