It looks like the "weather" excuse the press went to repeatedly to explain weak economic results in December, and January, and February, and March still has life in April. But this time, warm weather (which most of us would find "good," at least in April) is to blame. An early afternoon report (relevant portion saved here in graphic form) on the Dow's 200-point mid-day dip by the Associated Press's Ken Sweet claims that April's reported decline in industrial production was "possibly due to more bad weather" (while this post was prepared, the AP issued a 2:17 p.m. update which still had the "bad weather" excuse.)
That "bad weather" line is odd, because an earlier AP dispatch by Paul Wiseman exclusively about today's production release from the Federal Reserve didn't mention or allude to the weather at all. After the jump, I'll walk readers through Sweet's possible "warm weather was really bad weather (for the economy)" logic and critique Wiseman's longer coverage.
According to a Government Accountability Office report released in March but inexplicably only getting attention just now, the pain resulting from last year's sequestration "cuts," which were mostly reductions in the growth of spending in comparison to the previous year, bore no resemblance to the Armageddon-like warnings which preceded their imposition. Only one federal employee was laid off. You read that right — one. Only seven agencies out of 22 furloughed any employees, and they were ultimately given $2 billion in back pay.
What the results exposed by the GAO demonstrate, in addition to the fact that the government had plenty of places to cut and funds to access to keep its operations going without meaningfully affecting the federal workforce, is either that almost nobody in the establishment press cared about what the GAO had to say, or that if they did, they didn't believe that they should tell the nation that the Obama administration's scare tactics had no basis. Excerpts from one of the establishment press reports I found via CBS News's Stephanie Condon predictably turned the whole thing into a "Republicans attack" exercise:
In early May, after the government announced that first-quarter gross domestic product growth came in at a barely perceptible annual rate of 0.1 percent — the equivalent of a business which grossed $100,000 in the previous quarter seeing its sales rise by $25 — reporters at the "essential global news network" were regaling readers with an air of assuredness that the rest of the year would be different. Specifically (both here and here), the wire service carried predictions that the economy would turn in annualized second-quarter growth of 3.5 percent, and that the entire year would end up at 3.0 percent. As seen after the jump, put a big "oops" on those figures (bolds are mine):
Charlie Rose invited on Timothy Geithner for the entire hour on his PBS show to plug his new memoir but never once asked him about the juiciest nugget in the book - that the White House told Geithner to lie to the media.
On Monday’s edition of PBS’s Charlie Rose show, the CBS This Morning co-host never got around to asking the former Treasury Secretary about his revelation that White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer pressured him to lie to the likes of Rose’s CBS colleague, Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer. (video after the jump)
AP's tallest tale is in ascribing the four annual deficits of over $1 trillion incurred from fiscal 2009 through 2012 entirely to the "deep recession" and the need to "stabilize the financial system," when the truth is that huge increases in government spending not related to those matters are primarily what shot the annual deficits upward — and are still keeping them at historical highs. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Smartphone makers like Apple are partially to blame for violent muggings and the murder of at least one teenage girl young woman. While not explicitly stated on air, that was the logical implication of a segment of today's NewsNation program on MSNBC, guest-anchored by Craig Melvin and featuring Daily Beast special correspondent Michael Daly.
"If you're walking around with a smartphone in your pocket, then you're walking bait for thieves in this country who last year zoned in on the smartphones like never before," Melvin noted as he opened the segment, adding:
One has to ask this question because just a week after Lucia Mutikani of Reuters reported that the paltry 0.1 percent economic growth for the first quarter would probably be revised to show a contraction, Richard Cowan also of Reuters declared that a "rising" U.S. economy could help Democrats. To get an idea of the absurdity of these wildly contrasting Reuters reports, let us first read Cowan's happy look today at a non-existent economy that would help Democrats...if only it were true:
"Millions of Americans could face new state taxes on their Internet access this fall, as Congress struggles with how to extend an expiring moratorium on such levies," the Wall Street Journal's John McKinnon reported in the May 6 paper, noting that the federal moratorium in the Internet Tax Freedom Act expires on November 1, 2014 and has, thus far seen Congress taking "few concrete steps to re-enact it."
In a nutshell, some legislators are seeking to use the deadline as leverage to enact passage of the core provisions of a bill -- the Marketplace Fairness Act --which would permit states to force online retailers to collect sales taxes payable to the customer's state government even if the retailer does not have a physical presence in the customer's home state. Below the page break you can read an excerpt from McKinnon's story (emphases mine) and leave comments on this and/or anything else on your mind. This serves as today's Open Thread post.
If I didn't know any better, I might have thought, based on an Associated Press report tonight by business writer Bernard Condon prepared with the help of four others, that governments everywhere had reinstituted child labor for those as young as six years old.
That's the only way to support the claims Condon made about how the birth dearth in the developed world driven by the 2008 financial crisis is responsible for the current worldwide economic malaise. This desperate grasping at straws is apparently necessarily because the press will never blame the ineffectiveness of Keynesian fiscal policies and national banks' interventions in the developed world's economies, which are really the culprits. Excerpts from Condon's calamity follow the jump (bolds are mine):
So the New York Times has found an onerous, creativity-stifling regulation it abhors. Naturally, they want a carve-out so it still impacts everyone else but, well, journalists and the corporations which hire them.
Jack Nicas of the Wall Street Journal reported today that the New York Times Company is joining other journalistic enterprises like the Associated Press and Tribune Co. in "a joint brief in a high-profile legal case that is testing the FAA's legal authority to regulate drones":
In stark contrast to the celebratory "AMERICAN ECONOMY BOUNCES BACK FROM BRUTAL WINTER" headline Friday afternoon at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Ben White's "Morning Money" report at the Politico is notably concerned about whether Friday's "vexing jobs report" justifies the kind of optimism the AP conveyed with seeming finality in its headline.
To be fair, the underlying AP report by Chris Rugaber and Josh Boak pointed to several weaknesses in the jobs report. But to be appropriately critical, as I noted yesterday, they took it as a virtual given that the economy will turn in full-year growth of "nearly 3 percent." Achieving that result will require second-half annualized growth of nearly 4 percent — a level would likely cause the Federal Reserve to put on the brakes by raising interest rates to stave off inflation. In a separate post, I also criticized the AP pair for presenting economists's estimates of 3.5 percent annualized growth in the second quarter without telling readers that their prediction is premised on the first quarter's current 0.1 percent result getting revised downward into contraction.
This morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted that Friday afternoon's coverage of the government's jobs report at the Associated Press by economics writers Christopher Rugaber and Josh Boak carried predictions of "nearly 3 percent" economic growth this year. Those predictions ignore how difficult achieving that will be after the first quarter's miserable 0.1 percent annualized result and "most economists'" estimates that the second quarter will come in at 3.5 percent. Those two results require average annualized growth of 3.9 percent during the third and fourth quarters — something the economy hasn't seen in ten years. Additionally, it appears that if the Federal Reserve under Janet Yellen sees that kind of growth, it will put on the brakes by raising interest rates in the name of heading off inflation.
Since they were entertaining predictions about future developments, it's more than a little odd that the AP pair chose to ignore many analysts' predictions that the first quarter's GDP result will move into contraction when it gets revised in future months — especially since those downward revisions, supposedly reflecting deferred growth, partially justify their 3.5 percent second-quarter prediction. It sure looks like Rugaber and Boak were selective in deciding what they would report.
In a Friday afternoon dispatch issued in the wake of the government's jobs report earlier that day, Christopher Rugaber and Josh Boak at the Associated Press wrote that "most economists ... forecast a strong rebound in economic growth - to a 3.5 percent annual rate in the current April-June quarter. And growth should reach nearly 3 percent for the full year, up from 1.9 percent in 2013, they expect."
There are two problems with that prediction. The first lies in how strong the third and fourth quarters will have to be for the economy to get "nearly 3 percent" for the full year, given the tiny first-quarter annualized growth of 0.1 percent reported on Wednesday. The second and perhaps more crucial issue is that the full-year estimate significantly exceeds the "altered assessment" at the Fed concerning how fast it thinks the economy can grow without running the risk of igniting inflation.
In June 2006, the New York Times, over strident pleas not to from the Bush 43 administration, published details of how counterterrorism officials were "tracing transactions of people suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda by reviewing records from the nerve center of the global banking industry." According to the administration, the program had "helped in the capture of the most wanted Qaeda figure in Southeast Asia." Other outlets like the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times, which were apparently on the brink of breaking what the Times reported first, also chipped in with their own supplements. The stories received prominent network TV coverage, and reinforced the image of the Bush administration as secretive and far less than transparent.
So the details of how the government was monitoring the operation of the world's financial system to obtain clues to help catch terrorists apparently deserved full exposure. If that's fine, why has the press been barely interested in a far more troubling development, namely Eric Holder's U.S. Department of Justice using pressure on the financial system to conduct "a massive government overreach into private businesses that are operating within the law," which has been going on for at least a year? Welcome to "Operation Choke Point."
On the Wednesday, April 30, Hardball with Chris Matthews, guest and MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman -- formerly of Newsweek -- mocked Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan's intent to visit impoverished areas as a plan to "introduce himself to the bro," and went on to complain that Ryan's budget "whacks away at" programs to help the poor.
There are so many things to mock about General Electric Vox from the fact that there is almost no Vox Populi (i.e. reader's comments) in Vox except for a narcissistic story celebrating itself after just three weeks on the web to Sarah Kliff reporting today with a straight face about how the White House considers that rising health care spending means ObamaCare is working. Perhaps the most hilarious thing about Vox so far is an interview by Vox's Matthew Yglesias of the new hero of the Left who wrote a book decrying capitalism, Thomas Piketty. So what was so funny about that interview? It took place at the bar of the St. Regis Hotel, close to the White House, which serves $16 cocktails.
Sonny Bunch of the Washington Free Beacon exposes this in a way (and photos such as the one you see here) to make you burst out laughing enough to spill a Remy Martin Louis XIII drink:
General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt has made nice with President Barack Obama on several occasions. Among other things, he chaired the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which met a grand total of four times in 2011 and 2012 before it was unceremoniously allowed to expire a year later. He fully expected that his company would benefit from its involvement in green energy and its membership in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. He also endeared himself to Team Obama by calling "other U.S. business leaders greedy and mean."
In more than a minor comeuppance, as well as the latest evidence that business-related news reflecting badly on the Obama administration almost never escapes the business pages and center-right blogs and outlets, Inmelt's company has seen its medical division hit hard by the onset of Obamacare. Portions of Bloomberg News's original April 17 report follow the jump.
On Tuesday April 29, the Supreme Court ruled in a 6-2 decision that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate air pollution from power plants that cross state lines yet NBC and ABC failed to cover the story.
Despite the unprecedented ruling by the court, only CBS bothered to cover it, with Scott Pelley giving it a mere 22 seconds on the CBS Evening News on Tuesday night. Unlike the EPA ruling, all three networks provided extensive coverage of last week’s Supreme Court ruling that voters could decide whether or not they want to limit the use affirmative action in their respective state. [See video of Fox News’ coverage of the ruling below.]
Yesterday the Toyota Motor Corporation announced it would move its U.S. headquarters from Torrance, California, to Plano, Texas. Closing his report on the development, Tim Reid of Reuters noted the reaction of a Torrance business owner who doubtless counts many Toyota employees as loyal customers. "The taxes are lower in Texas. There are fewer regulations. It's cheaper for a company there. Why wouldn't they leave California?" shrugged Frank Portillo, the owner of a nearby Mexican restaurant.
While Toyota's forthcoming move is a huge economic and PR development for prospective 2016 presidential candidate Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) and a major embarrassment for liberal Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown (D-Calif.), a search of Nexis and our DVR recording system shows the Big Three networks -- ABC, CBS, and NBC -- ignored the story on both their April 28 evening newscasts and their April 29 morning news programs.
At the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, Martin Crutsinger has pretty much proven that he's been on some kind of workout regimen. If he wasn't, he couldn't possibly have carried so much Obama administration water in his 1:45 p.m. report on the state of the economy (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) as he did.
Crutsinger's message: Pay no attention to that lousy GDP report we expect to see tomorrow morning (there's some reason to believe that it may get artificially juiced, which I'll explain later). Starting this month, the economy has been smokin', and this year's going to be just great. Too bad the evidence for his optimism mostly doesn't exist — and to the extent it does, it's not rip-roaring great. Excerpts from Crutsinger's latest crummy creation follow the jump.
The National Employment Law Project claims that it is dedicated to "working to restore the promise of economic opportunity in the 21st century economy." That sounds promising, but one look at NELP's directors and the supposed "solutions" the group and its friends advocate — e.g., higher minimum wage, "uphold the freedom to join a union." etc. It's clear that NELP is just another lefty advocacy group pushing the kinds of policies which have led to six years of economic weakness.
That said, NELP recently released research showing that jobs gained since the recession ended have skewed far more heavily towards low-wage industries than the jobs which were lost during the recession. Press coverage has been skimpy. The one major writeup at the New York Times on Sunday for Monday's print edition appeared on Page B4. The nature of Annie Lowrey's coverage at the Times led Fox News to accuratey tease it as a story about the "Fast-Food Recovery." Excerpts from the Times story follow the jump (bolds are mine):
The Associated Press's lengthy Monday evening treatment of Toyota's decision to move its U.S. headquarters and consolidate many of its North American operations in Metro Dallas is reasonably good in spots. But Gillian Flaccus and Michael R. Blood were unduly selective in reporting Torrance, California Mayor Frank Scotto's reaction to the news that his town would be losing several thousand jobs, and downplayed the relevance of clearly obvious factors influencing the move.
Let's see what Scotto, a Republican, told the Los Angeles Times, followed by the AP's reporting.
At the Associated Press today, economics writer Christopher Rugaber was a bit subdued, even when presented with nominally favorable news. He wrote that the March rise in the National Association of Realtors' pending home sales index of 3.4 percent, the first gain in nine months, was "a sign that the housing market might pick up after a sluggish start to the year."
Rugaber's relative ruefulness, which after being fed through the media translator actually means "Things really stink," is understandable once one looks at how pathetic that gain is in the circumstances, and at a key paragraph in the NAR's press release which he chose to ignore.
Earlier today, Pope Francis tweeted from his English-language account, "Inequality is the root of social evil." Not long afterwards, the Daily Beast shouted out its Amen by placing the development at the top of its Tip Sheet digest, complete with the cheeky caption "Occupy Vatican." [see screen captures below page break]
Naturally, however, the Beast completely ignored statements the pontiff made on Friday lamenting the emotional and spiritual effects that abortion has on women who have obtained them. As TheWire.com reported yesterday:
Norah O'Donnell pursued Texas Governor Rick Perry on Thursday's CBS This Morning over the controversial land dispute between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the federal government. O'Donnell asked Perry, "What do you make of this standoff? What do you think of Clive Bundy? Do you think what he's done was a good thing?"
When the Republican politician replied that Bundy is a "side story," and that "rather than sending armed troops....I hope our government officials...use common sense when it comes to these issues of conflict...dealing with something...in a substantially-less confrontational way," the CBS anchor followed up by spotlighting the rancher's racially-charged remarks: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
A day after the liberal website Think Progress wrote a piece complaining “There’s Even A Gender Gap In Children’s Allowances” the folks over at NBC rushed to tie the issue to the “pay gap” between men and women.
On Thursday, April 24, Today show co-host Matt Lauer hyped “We all know about a pay gap that exists for adult men and women in the work world, but there are surprising new numbers this morning revealing that that gap actually begins during childhood with the allowances we pay our kids. In a new survey, 70% of boys say they get an allowance. That’s compared to just 60% of girls.” [See video below.]
March was going to be the month when new home sales in the U.S. would finally break out after several months of horrible weather. After all, everyone knew that this winter's snow, ice, and low temperatures were the only things holding the new home market back. Consensus predictions ahead of today's related report from the Census Bureau were in the range of 450,000 to 455,000 annualized sales.
Oops. New home sales dove to a seasonally adjusted annualized 384,000, a 14.5 percent decline from February, a slightly larger miss compared to expectations, and a whopping 13.3 percent lower than March 2013. Press reports on this result predictably brought on appearances of the U-word ("unexpectedly"), with at least one interesting twist.
If there's a prize for most words spent in Obamacare avoidance, NBC News's Martha C. White is definitely in the running.
White managed to burn through almost 40 paragraphs and nearly 1,600 words in a report carried at CNBC on the all-time record number of workers employed by temporary help services. But she somehow managed to completely avoid mentioning Obamacare, which used to be known as the Affordable Care Act until President Obama and his Health and Human Services regulators made 40 changes to the law originally passed by Congress, some of which directly contradict the original law's language. The closest she came was noting that using temps "lets companies avoid the cost of providing benefits like health insurance" — which has always been the case, except that health insurance is and will continue to be a lot more expensive, giving companies even more incentive to avoid adding to their own payrolls. Excerpts follow the jump.
Earlier today, just an hour before a hearing was to begin at the National Labor Relations Board, the United Auto Workers union dropped an appeal of the election it lost in February as it attempted to become the bargaining representative for workers at Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tennessee plant.
In a writeup which appears at the Associated Press's "Big Story" but which somehow failed to appear in a 6 p.m. search on "UAW" at the Big Story site (sorted by date), reporter Erik Schelzig pretended that two Democratic Congressmen who last week started an "inquiry" into the circumstances surrounding the union's loss will be conducting a "congressional investigation." No they won't, because they can't, because their party is in the minority. What they can do is conduct a theatrical exercise which looks like a "hearing" which has no power and which a responsible AP reporter wouldn't call a "congressional investigation." Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
Last Tuesday, in an incredibly childish piece, even by his non-standards, Politico's David Nather acted as if the resistance at Clive Bundy's ranch was endorsed and supported entirely by the tea party movement and/or Republicans and/or conservatives, so he could then characterize their post stand-off behavior — i.e., pursuit of their longer-term political goals — as some form of abandonment.
I was tempted to ignore Nather's nattering, but a couple of subsequent events are making Nather look even more foolish than usual. The first is the fact that Bundy still has significant armed assistance, something the Politico reporter appears not to have anticipated. The second relates to allegations of misbehavior, including illegal property destruction, by Bureau of Land Management agents. First, let's get to some of Nather's blather (bolds are mine throughout this post):