Leave it to NBC's Today show to find the downside of a booming stock market. Playing the class envy card Today co-host Matt Lauer teased a story on a widening gap between rich and poor as he incredulously asked the audience: "Do you feel like you're working harder and harder these days just to stay financially afloat while fat cats get richer and richer?" Lauer, not exactly a pauper himself, then threw it to CNBC's Scott Cohn who claimed: "Not only are the rich getting richer they're leaving everyone else behind. In fact the last time the rich were this much richer than everyone else was the Great Depression."
Cohn did mention the wealthy are giving more to charity but only highlighted liberal billionaire Bill Gates' good deeds.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average soared past the 13,000 level on Wednesday, but the CBS and ABC evening newscasts reported the good news in the media's all-too-frequent “yes, but” framework. CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric fretted that “even as investors are making money in the market, Anthony Mason reports there are concerns tonight about the rest of the U.S. economy.” Mason talked with a celebrating stock trader before turning downbeat: “But Wall Street and Main Street appear to be headed in different directions. While the stock market's been racing ahead, the economy has been slowing down. Housing is mired in a slump.” Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab confirmed bad news for the overall economy, citing how “we have seen economic growth get cut in about half in the last year, so clearly the economy is not as strong as it was a year ago.” Mason ominously warned: “Rising gas prices, up 70 cents already this year, could slow the economy even more.”
ABC anchor Charles Gibson teased World News: “Tonight, the Dow moves into uncharted territory, zooming past 13,000 for the first time. But is the economy as hot as the market?” Gibson set up his lead story by contrasting how “the rise in recent months has been steep, despite less-than-inspiring news on the economy overall.” Betsy Stark featured pleased investors before cautioning how “there were fresh signs today of trouble in the housing market” and “oil prices shot up another dollar today, which will only add to consumers' woes at the pump.” Gibson stayed on the negative, proposing to Stark: “We've had four years of a straight bull market. Doesn't just the timing of this suggest that there might be a correction?” Stark agreed: “By historical standards, Charlie, we're actually overdue for a correction.”
"Well you know I wish I had better news, but the numbers this week were just horrific," said CNN correspondent Gerri Willis.
The numbers she referred to were home prices and new-home sales, which were down. After briefly mentioning the increase in existing-home sales (which make up a larger share of the housing market), Willis dismissed it.
With the help of CNN's Allen Wastler, the duo played up fears of recession on the March 3 program.
Wastler and Willis wrapped up the housing segment playing on viewers’ fears of a recession after an up-and-down week on Wall Street. Willis said the question wasn’t simply what happens in the housing market, but in the overall economy.
“The conversation about recession this week isn’t just bad for the stock markets; it’s also bad for housing,” Willis said. “When people lose their jobs, we know what happens.” You can read the Business & Media Institute article here.