Associated Press stories today on the quarterly earnings releases of Wells Fargo (unbylined) and JPMorgan Chase (by Steve Rothwell) essentially mocked the nearly continuous monthly stream of reports the wire service's economics writers, particularly Martin Crutsinger and Chris Rugaber, have generated about the "housing recovery" during at least the past year.
The Wells Fargo story disclosed that the nation's largest mortgage lender "funded $36 billion worth of mortgages in the first quarter, down sharply from $109 billion a year earlier." The following graphic from the bank's detailed financial report tells the full story:
In a column supposedly published on Sunday but "updated" on Saturday (I'm not kidding), Collins assessed the aftermath of the Supreme Court's odious Kelo v. New London decision in 2005 in reacting to a lengthy story by Charlotte Allen in the February 10 issue of the Weekly Standard. In the process, he betrayed two erroneous mindsets about the case which I believe are common among members of the establishment press. The first is that it was purely a matter of "conservatives" backing property rights against "liberal interventionism." The second is his contention that the total lack of any development in the contested area in the nearly nine years since the Court's decision "is not that compelling beyond New London."
This past Monday, Andrew Theen at the Oregonian reported that "Trader Joe's is backing away from a development in Northeast Portland," citing, in the company's words, "negative reactions from the community."
Actually, the vast majority of "the community" wanted the grocery chain to build in the once bustling but now troubled area. Theen quoted Portland's "city leaders" as calling the decision "a loss for the city and particularly for Northeast Portland." Neighbors and business owners in the area, described here as "once the heart of Portland’s African-American community," had been "thrilled" about the project. It's people who largely aren't part of that community who opposed the deal. On Friday, as will be seen after the jump, Theen had a chance to fully expose the radical, backward-looking grievance mongers who stopped progress, and to a significant extent blew it.
The Census Bureau reported today that sales of new single-family homes in the U.S. reached an annualized level of 421,000 in August. That was up by almost 8 percent from July, but a whopping 15 percent below the 497,000 the bureau originally reported for June (two subsequent revisions have taken that number down to 454,000). Given the shock decline to below 400,000 in July, August's bounceback was clearly inadequate. Additionally, as Zero Hedge noted this morning, the median new-home sales price fell to its "lowest level since January 2013."
Potentially the most dishonest aspect of the Obama-loving media's reporting since January 20, 2009, pertains to how they've almost totally ignored how poorly the economy is performing.
On Tuesday, Michael T. Snyder, author of the gloom and doom book "The Beginning of the End," wrote a fabulous piece titled "33 Shocking Facts Which Show How Badly The Economy Has Tanked Since Obama Became President":
On Friday, Eric Holder's Department of Justice gave the memory-hole treatment to wildly inflated statistics released last October about the number of cases and the amount of money involved in DOJ's mortgage fraud enforcement efforts.
Bloomberg News reporters who had discovered that the original numbers were suspect had been getting stonewalled for months in their efforts to get answers to their queries, and finally got them through the document-dump route. The differences are stark.
Continuing the business press's slavish devotion to seasonally adjusted figures in government reports to the exclusion of looking at what actually happened, Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, began his Tuesday dispatch on May's new-home sales report from the Census Bureau as follows: "Sales of new homes rose in May to the fastest pace in five years, a solid gain that added to signs of a steadily improving housing market."
Except for two "little" things: Fewer homes were actually sold in May than were sold in April, and May's reported increase in seasonally adjusted annualized sales only came about because of a tax break which ended in April 2010:
How ironic it is that, as Kyle Drennen noted today at NewsBusters, that NBC's David Gregory was so vocal in advocating that "Government Playing a Bigger Role" in the economy, given that yesterday was the eighth anniversary of the Kelo vs. New London decision, a monument to colossal government failure if there ever was one.
A 5-4 Supreme Court majority, believing that the Connecticut city of New London had "carefully formulated a development plan ... (with) appreciable benefits to the community," violated the plain language of the "public use" clause of the Constitution's Fifth Amendment which was clearly designed to limit government eminent-domain takings to true public projects (e.g., roads, bridges, etc.). They instead decided that "public use" really means "public purpose" (i.e., anything the government wants to do, including condemning property so that it can be transferred from current to new owners in the name of some higher good).
Two years ago, Jimmy McMillan ran for New York governor and became a viral sensation, with more than 7 million Youtube views. Now the creator of The Rent is Too Damn High party is running for New York City mayor and has expanded his platform is his new rap anthem video.
In the first 30 seconds of his video, the news reporter declared that rent in New York is at an all time high. “Critics say Bloomberg has failed.” McMillan pointed out that mayor’s economic record is one of failure.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and MSNBC's Joe Scarborough had an at times heated discussion about budget deficits, debt, and the economy on PBS's Charlie Rose Monday evening.
At one point Krugman got so rattled by the facts that he actually said Scarborough quoting what he had said in the past was making an ad hominem attack against him (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CNBC's Maria Bartiromo made a statement Sunday about all of the fearmongering concerning the looming budget sequester that people on both sides of the aisle should pay attention to.
Appearing on NBC's Meet the Press, Bartiromo said, "I think Wall Street is seeing this as scare tactics because if the market really believed that the economy was going to be paralyzed on March 1 we would not be trading near record highs" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Here’s something I bet you thought you’d never see at the perilously liberal Huffington Post.
In a Dean Baker article published Tuesday with the astonishing title “There Is No Santa Claus and Bill Clinton Was Not an Economic Savior,” the second sentence read, “Just as little kids have to come to grips with the fact that there is no Santa Claus, it is necessary for millions of liberals, including many who think of themselves as highly knowledgeable about economic matters, to realize that President Clinton's policies sent the economy seriously off course.”
The real news in today's new-home sales information published by the Census Bureau is that September's previously reported 389,000 in seasonally adjusted annual sales was written down by over 5 percent to 369,000. Hmm -- The higher figure, aggressively touted as the highest in 2-1/2 years by the Associated Press and other establishment media outlets, was reported on October 24, just 13 days before Election Day on November 6. Now we learn that it was a mirage, and that the revised figure was merely the same as the number turned in four months earlier and barely above February. In fact, the new home market, portrayed throughout the summer and early fall as recovering somewhat nicely, merely treaded water. That trend continued in October, as annualized sales came in at 368,000. Imagine that.
To his credit, the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger at least acknowledged the major prior-month revision in each of his first two paragraphs; however, the AP's headline writers ignored it. To Crutsinger's detriment, it's clear that he tried very hard to find someone who would pin a major portion of the blame for October's 0.3 percent drop on Superstorm Sandy. When he couldn't, he decided to take it on himself to make the point (bolds are mine):
The environmental movement had an idea on how to cut down your carbon footprint – live in a little house. This movement, often called the Tiny House Movement or micro living, is not new but had picked up steam recently, and not without some media support. However, the media have consistently left out that this idea of living small and downsizing had been pushed by environmentalists long before journalists decided to report on this “trend.”
The Associated Press, Bloomberg and Reuters all eagerly told readers today that the seasonally adjusted annualized level of single-family home sales in September of 389,000 was the highest in 2-1/2 years and really, really good news for the housing market, the economy as a whole, or both. What they all "somehow" failed to mention was the fact that sales are still far below where they were during the 12-month recession in 2008 and 2009 (defining "recession" properly), when the market was screeching to a halt after overbuilding driven by subprime lending frauds by design Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The numbers reported by the Census Bureau since January of 2008, first expressed at seasonally adjusted annual rates, then as raw number of homes sold, follow the jump.
In what has become an all too predictable ritual, an AP reporter has tried to make the situation in the economy look like it's on the upswing when it's not.
Today, the AP's Christopher Rugaber read the press release on existing home sales from the National Association of Realtors. As a trade group, NAR will tend to put a good (or at least not as ugly face) on even a rough situation. So it's hard to blame them for saying that "Sales of existing homes rose in July even with constraints of affordable inventory, and the national median price is showing five consecutive months of year-over-year increases." The first half of NAR's statement is selectively incomplete, but Rugaber compounded the problem in the first sentence of his report this morning:
It might sound ridiculous, but Time magazine writer Michael Crowley actually grumbled in an article on Monday that the GOP presidential candidate is “One-Note Mitt” Romney, whose campaign defines this year's election as merely “a referendum on Obama's handling of the economy.”
The author then noted that with “almost comical discipline,” Romney “steers virtually every topic” back to the incumbent Democrat's economic record.
We at NewsBusters have been calling MSNBC's Chris Matthews a sycophant for Barack Obama since at least February 2008 when the so-called journalist bragged on the air about getting a thrill up his leg at the sound of the former junior senator from Illinois' voice.
It was therefore quite pleasing to hear former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele tell the Hardball host that to his face Thursday during a contentious exchange about the current White House resident's economics policies and who should be blamed for their failure (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Peter Goodman, the business editor for the perilously liberal Huffington Post, has come up with a new highly-derogatory term for people on the right that believe there isn't an unlimited amount of money at the government's disposal.
Readers are strongly advised to remove food, fluids, and flammables from proximity to their computers prior to reading any further. You've been warned!
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said on ABC's This Week Sunday, "It's terribly unfair that [President Obama is] being judged on the failure of the economy to respond to policies that had been largely dictated by a hostile Congress" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
As we approach Election Day, it's becoming more and more important for the Obama-loving media to give credit to the President for the economies of swing states governed by Republicans that are doing better economically than the rest of the country.
Candy Crowley did her part on CNN's State of the Union Sunday by asking Governor Bob McDonnell (R-Va.), "Don’t you credit President Obama at all for the good fortune that Virginia has?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
I have a serious question for MSNBC's Chris Matthews: How many lies are you willing to tell on national television to get Barack Obama reelected?
On Friday's Hardball, the host gave viewers a plethora of falsehoods and half-truths to giving us an idea of just how far he's prepared to go this election cycle to make sure the objection of his affection remains in the White House (video follows with transcript and commentary):
After reading Derek Kravitz's final report of the day at 4:45 p.m. on the housing market at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, I just had to check the other wires to see if they were sipping from the same housing-market-in-recovery koolaid.
The answer is no. At Reuters, Jason Lange's 3:22 p.m. dispatch reported that "Output at U.S. factories slipped in March and builders started construction on fewer homes, offering cautionary signals for an economy that appeared to be gaining traction." At Bloomberg, Timothy R. Homan wrote: "While warmer weather may have spurred home construction at the beginning of 2012, a competing supply of cheap existing properties may be steering potential buyers away from purchasing a new home. That means home construction may not help boost the economy in 2012." Both of these assessments make Kravitz's take on housing, which included omitting very negative data on housing starts, seem that much more bizarre (my comments in italics follow each paragraph):
The stunts the folks at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, continue pulling to downplay, minimize, or whitewash bad or embarrassing economic and other news shouldn't surprise us any more. But they continue to disappoint nonetheless.
Last month, a consumer sentiment index reported by the Conference Board fell by a relatively modest amount. Headlines and descriptions at related AP reports went from “falls” to “dips slightly” to “roughly flat” to a “rosy outlook” in the course of a single day. Today's AP rewrite only involved one step. At 9:04 a.m., Derek Kravitz's dispatch on the Census Bureau's New Home Construction report gave equal play to the seasonally adjusted (and totally unexpected) fall in new housing starts and the also unexpected but more modest rise in building permits:
Derek Kravitz and Alex Veiga at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, must have doubled down on the energy drinks over the weekend. A Sunday morning report (HT to a NewsBusters tipster) telling readers that signs are "pointing to a long-awaited recovery" in the housing market went on, and on, and on, and on for over 1,350 words.
The factors the AP pair cited were primarily these: "Hiring has strengthened," "Loans remain cheap," "Homes are more affordable," and "Americans are more confident." They should have known that their first point has become questionable with March's mediocre jobs report and the recent spike in weekly initial unemployment claims to 380,000 (which so happens to be above his colleague Christopher Rugaber's already too-high benchmark for job-market improvement of 375,000), and that their last point should read: "Americans are less un-confident."