When is a billion-dollar loss a bonanza? When the person suffering it is one of those greedy Wall Street types the MSM loves to hate. Check out how, in opening this morning's show, Today cast the situation of Bear Stearns Chairman James Cayne:
MATT LAUER: Payday! His company imploded and thousands of stockholders went bust, but the Chairman of Bear Stearns cashes in and gets $61 million dollars. Will there be a backlash?
Watching the intro, I assumed the Chairman, despite Bears' fall, had received some kind of bonus or golden handshake. It wasn't until Maria Bartiromo came on later that we learned that Bear Chairman James Cayne, far from receiving a bonus or bonanza, had incurred one of the worst personal financial losses in the history of the street.
"The American public don't know jack," Cramer said in response to a question from CNBC correspondent Michelle Caruso Cabrera about justifying the move to the American public. "They're just glad they're just not going to lose their job. I mean, this thing was so out of control. Everybody on Wall Street thought they were going to lose their jobs 10 days ago. We're thrilled."
CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer came under fire recently for telling viewers Bear Stearns (NYSE: BSC) wasn't in trouble just days before the investment bank tanked. He has finally admitted some fault.
"No! No! No! Bear Stearns is not in trouble," Cramer said on his program March 11. "If anything, they're more likely to be taken over. Don't move your money from Bear."
The following weekend, confidence in the investment bank disintegrated. On March 17 it was announced JP Morgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) would take over Bear Stearns at $2 a share after the Federal Reserve agreed to back the takeover.
Cramer appeared on CNN's March 23 "Reliable Sources" to maintain that he meant not to move your money from Bear Stearns the investment bank - not Bear Stearns' common stock - on his stock-picking show. However, Cramer told host Howard Kurtz he was wrong about the general health of Bear Stearns.
With Eliot Spitzer gone, Chuck Schumer moves to the head of the list of smugly self-righteous New York pols. So it was particularly satisfying to see Sen. Jon Kyl [R-AZ] put Schumer is his place on This Week with George Stephanopoulos today.
A guest with Kyl for purposes of discussing the economy, Schumer clearly came in with a game plan: to analogize President Bush to the man who presided over the beginning of the Great Depression: Herbert Hoover. After Schumer tried it twice, Kyl had had enough and unleashed a riposte as devastating as it was reasoned.
"Good Morning America" economic reporter Bianna Golodryga narrated a segment on Tuesday's show that featured grainy black and white footage from the 1930s and two references to the Great Depression. The ABC journalist also featured clips from Democratic presidential contenders Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to amplify the warnings of impending economic doom.
While discussing the collapse of investment bank Bear Stearns, grainy footage of panicked '30s bankers appeared onscreen as Golodryga intoned, "The problems are so massive that the Fed is taking measures not seen since the Great Depression..." And while President Bush was briefly highlighted, assuring Americans that the United States will rebound, Paul McCulley, the managing director of the investment company Pimco, continued the comparison to the worst economic crisis the United States ever faced. Referencing impending action by the Federal Reserve, he asserted, "...You could have the Fed with great intentions but still a downward spiral in property prices that would give you a modern day depression." For comparison's sake, during the Great Depression, almost 25 percent of Americans were unemployed.
In a response to an e-mail posted on his Web site on March 11, Cramer said Bear Stearns (NYSE:BSC) wasn't in trouble and advised the writer to keep his money in the investment bank:
"Dear Jim: Should I be worried about Bear Stearns in terms of liquidity and get my money out of there? --Peter
Cramer says: "No! No! No! Bear Stearns is not in trouble. If anything, they're more likely to be taken over. Don't move your money from Bear."
On the day Cramer posted that on his Web site, Bear Stearns had a stock price of $62.97. As of noon March 17, the stock price had plummeted to $3.80 a share after the market opened. On March 16 it was announced that J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) was purchasing the beleaguered investment bank rocked hard by the mortgage fallout.
Jim Cramer is known for wearing his heart on his sleeve. But the host of CNBC's "Mad Money" normally lets his emotions show over matters financial. In August, for example, he went ballistic at Ben Bernanke, pleading with the Fed chairman to lower interest rates in the face of widespread home foreclosures.
This morning, however, Cramer got verklempt not over the discount rate but at the falling fortunes of his friend Eliot Spitzer. Cramer went to Harvard Law with the embattled governor and his wife Silda, and over the years has defended Spitzer against the torrent of criticism directed at the so-called sheriff of Wall Street for his high-handed tactics.
Cramer appeared on this morning's Today to discuss with Meredith Vieira yesterday's dramatic Fed move. But at the end of the interview, Vieira raised the Spitzer situation, and that sent Cramer to the verge of tears. The transcript below doesn't do justice to just how emotional Cramer became, so readers might want to view the video.
During a story suggesting that Angelo Mozilo, the former CEO of the mortgage company Countrywide, is unworthy of his millions of dollars and perhaps enjoys too much time lying in the sun, ABC's Dan Harris, possibly not picking up on the former CEO's Italian ethnicity which could be the source of his skin's dark complexion, remarked that Mozilo's "deeply tanned face" could become the "face of the mortgage mess." The story ran on Friday's World News with Charles Gibson, substitute hosted by George Stephanopoulos, with Harris beginning his report: "This may well become the deeply tanned face of the mortgage mess. The face belongs to Angelo Mozilo, the once-celebrated CEO of Countrywide, now facing allegations of predatory lending and rapacious greed." Harris also ended the report seeming to lament that Mozilo is not facing foreclosure on any of his homes: "If the sale [of Countrywide] goes through, Mozilo will walk away with about $40 million. And with not one of his homes in foreclosure." (Transcript follows)
If you haven't gotten to check out the Business & Media Institute's new weekly video blog, The Biz Flog, this week's topic is the media's shift from reporting on "recession" to all-out "depression."
Complete with old-timey piano music and grainy film, this week BMI gives you our take on the many instances when reporters have compared the current economy to a time when soup lines and the Dust Bowl carried headlines.
Granted, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is a trade organization which will, as trade organizations do, try to put the best face on a bad situation. And granted, part of the press's job is to filter through hype and false sunniness to report the truth of what's really going on.
But that is most emphatically not what the Associated Press did with yesterday's NAR report on the state of the national housing market. Instead, AP failed to report overall statistics in favor of reporting individual metro areas; ignored most of the legitimately good news; ignored an important piece of historical context; and, most importantly, and as has been the case for well over a year in the national business press, emphasized reductions in unit sales while de-emphasizing much smaller reductions in sale prices.
"[T]he truth is, ["Today" co-anchor] Meredith [Vieira], it doesn't matter if we're in a recession," Bartiromo said on NBC's February 6 "Today." "We can talk ourselves into a recession, and that seems to be what we're doing right now and that certainly begets more weakness."
The media coverage has apparently affected voters. According to the February 6 Washington Times, an exit survey from the "Super Tuesday" primaries showed 47 percent of Democratic voters and 40 percent of Republican voters said the economy was the most important issue in making their choice at the polls.
On January 18, Cramer appeared on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews" and warned if the government didn't intervene and prevent the failure of two large insurance companies, Ambac and MBIA, the Dow Jones Industrial Average would drop 2,000 points in the upcoming weeks. Cramer isn't talking about that sort of collapse anymore.
"For months I was worried about [MBIA CFO] Chuck Chaplin and MBIA (NYSE:MBI) and ABK [Ambac Financial Group, Inc.] (NYSE:ABK)," Cramer said on the January 31 "Street Signs." "Everyone's worried about it now? Why should I be worried about it? When you have a problem on your hands and everyone's worried knows about it, [New York State Superintendent of Insurance] Eric Dinallo to [President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York] Tim Geithner, it's done. It's done."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
American capitalism - it's so great even the Chinese Communist government loves it!
That's sounds like it ought to be a bumper sticker, but the January 16 "NBC Nightly News" advised it is something we should be cautious of.
Foreign investors have been on a buying spree in the U.S. stock markets - as stock prices have fallen with all the skittishness in the wake of the credit crunch.
"So far foreigners buying chunks of Wall Street has not triggered the same political uproar as a Dubai company's ill-fated effort to take over operations of U.S. ports, perhaps because politicians know the alternative could be painful," NBC correspondent Lisa Myers said.
The headline "The Economy Sucks" might be something you'd expect to see in Rolling Stone or on Slate.com, but certainly not in a reputable news magazine, right?
Yet, the January 21 issue of Newsweek defied expectations by using that for part of a headline for a one-sided, pro-Bill Clinton view of the economy. The article recalled the 1992 "It's the economy, stupid!" campaign as it tore down the current economy.
So, why does the economy "suck" according to Newsweek? It isn't that there's a depression looming or that we're in recessionary times, we're just "perilously close to sliding into a recession."
"Today, the nation is perilously close to sliding into a recession; in '92, the economy had already started growing, though a jobless recovery doomed George H.W. Bush's re-election bid anyway," Gross wrote. "The lesson? Voters' perceptions matter more than whether the economy is technically expanding or contracting."
You might disagree with how he slashed the Fed funds rate during times of economic turmoil as Federal Reserve chairman.
You might have even disavowed him after showing his coziness with the Clinton administration throughout the 1990s. But after 18 years of public service, you can't deny that Alan Greenspan should have a shot in the private sector.
CNBC “Mad Money” host, resident ranter and stock-picker extraordinaire Jim Cramer can now add “media critic” to his list of duties.
Over the past six months, Cramer has become a YouTube sensation for taking shots at Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, including his infamous “They know nothing” rant on CNBC’s August 3 “Street Signs.”
Today Cramer used his “Stop Trading” segment on CNBC’s “Street Signs” to blast Bernanke some more and accused some in the media of kissing up to Bernanke for the “big interview.”
“I guess I should just kiss up and get the big interview with Ben like everybody else wants,” Cramer said to “Street Signs” fill-in host Melissa Lee. “Sorry, I could care less.”
Cramer obviously wasn't impressed with Bernanke's comments yesterday where he said the Federal Reserve stood ready "to take substantive additional action as needed to support growth and to provide adequate insurance against downside risks."
"[W]ell, as you said the economy certainly is front and center," Bolton said. "And in fact in the latest survey of Bloomberg economists, economists putting the odds of developing a recession at about 40 percent. Jay Bryson - he's a global economist at Wachovia - he says we are skating on the edge of recession, but it's all going to come down to the consumer. Another economist that we spoke with said that consumers right now are really hanging on by their fingernails. And of course it's not really a surprise."
"Business spending, concerns about business spending overall. I think Anne Mulcahy [CEO] at Xerox (NYSE:XRX) may have said something about business spending," Faber said. "I'm hearing business spending slowing. That's the concern - what happens to the stock market in a recession because we're heading into one it looks like."
A January 4 Associated Press story by Jeannine Aversa pointed to the job data as one of the "problems in the economy" that has "elevated fears about a recession." But even with all these "problems" - housing woes, the credit crunch, high oil prices, weak job numbers - the criteria of the economy being in a recession still haven't been close to being met.