If you believe polls, current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke favorability has been slipping. A recent Rasmussen Reports poll indicates that only 21 percent of Americans favor his reappointment as the Fed chair.
And this hasn't gone unnoticed by some members of the Senate, where Bernanke's fate lies. Bernanke's reconfirmation passed through the Senate Banking Committee by a 16-to-7 vote on Dec. 17. But that margin calls into question how his reconfirmation vote on the Senate floor could go. And as CNBC "The Kudlow Report" host Larry Kudlow warned, that puts his reconfirmation in question.
"Look, ‘Helicopter' Ben passed the Senate Banking Committee vote on his reconfirmation," Kudlow said on his Dec. 17 program. "He got 16-to-7, but he lost seven votes. I think all the Republicans except Sen. Bob Corker voted against Bernanke, and they were joined by one Democrat, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon. Now the reconfirmation goes to the floor of the Senate. So, I think Bernanke's reconfirmation could be in some trouble when that Senate vote occurs. I'm going to bet that most, if not all, of the 40 Republicans are going to vote against Bernanke and that they are going to be joined by a number of Democrats."
It's often said markets function better when there is gridlock in Washington, D.C. because there's less of a chance for government will interfere in the private sector, creating a sense of security. But in this day and time, that theory applies to the U.S. dollar as well.
On CNBC's Dec. 17 "Squawk Box," CNBC Chicago Mercantile Exchange reporter Rick Santelli debated what was causing the recent rise in the U.S. dollar. Santelli, the original inspiration for the tea party movement, squared off with Jim Iuorio, CNBC "OptionsAction" regular and CME trader, about the cause - a weakened European economy or the place in the calendar year.
"So Rick, is the bigger deal right now on the dollar move - the risk-aversion trade because of the end of the year or because of the problems in Europe?" Iuorio said. "Or is it a combination of both? Which is the bigger thing, do you think?"
There's a lot of uncertainty with the U.S. economy and a lot of its recovery hinges on some key policy decisions due from the federal government.
On CNBC's Nov. 2 "The Kudlow Report," CNBC host Maria Bartiromo discussed her interview with former Chairman of the Federal Reserve and Obama adviser Paul Volcker from the Global Financial Leadership Conference in Naples, Fla. One of the topics Bartiromo reported on from the conference was the possibility the Bush tax cuts would be allowed to expire, which she insisted is unlikely.
Now that the Obama administration is attempting to take a victory lap on the U.S. economic recovery, claiming the $787-billion stimulus passed earlier this year was what did the trick, despite a cost of $160,000 per 'stimulus' job, as ABC's Jake Tapper pointed out, it has come at the cost of the U.S. dollar.
Since then, the stock market has rebounded nicely. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is off a March low of 6,547 points, even topping the 10,000-mark recently. But what has caused this nearly 50-percent jump? According to CNBC's Larry Kudlow - loose monetary policy by the Federal Reserve, with low interest rates, has made it possible for the markets to rise, with the 'loose' money going into the market.
"The funny thing is, Steven, it has gone into stocks - I mean the stock market guys ... there's no real multiplier for the economy, right?" Kudlow said on his Oct. 30 CNBC program. "But it has gone into stocks and the stock market crowd wants to see the Fed to keep pouring the money in no matter what happens to the U.S. dollar."
We'll have to wait and see if the so-called outside-the-box thinking once praised by some of liberal media elites will get the same reception with this latest edition.
In 2005, University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt and New York Times journalist Stephen J. Dubner released the book "Freakonomics" that provided cover for the pro-abortion movement in America by suggesting legalized abortion lowered crime and had a positive impact on society.
Earlier, Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., took on the issue and defended Fox and its audience. However, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, also took on the White House and questioned why it would be something Obama and his administration should be concerned with in comments from the floor of the House of Representatives on Oct. 20.
Just when you thought the White House couldn't possibly do anything to make their bizarre feud with the Fox News Channel an even larger spectacle - the administration manages to take it to another level.
On the Oct. 22 broadcast of Fox News Channel's "Special Report," host Bret Baier revealed a White House pool announcement was offering Kenneth Feinberg, the "Special Master for Compensation," better known as the White House "pay czar" for interviews - all except for one network - Fox News.
Worried about a potential slippery slope with the Obama administration dictating what people are paid in the private sector - TARP bailout or no TARP bailout? Message from CNBC's Jim Cramer: Get over it.
On CNBC's Oct. 21 "Street Signs," the "Mad Money" host ripped into Wall Street executives that objected to the government dictating the rules of compensation. Opponents argue these pay restrictions inhibit Wall Street firms ability to retain the best employees possible - an argument Cramer says doesn't matter.
"Hey, there's no God-given right to work at those companies," Cramer said. "These people can go off if they want to. I know that [Citigroup Inc. Chief Executive] Vikram Pandit has kept 23 of the top 25 people with very severe pay restrictions. If you believe in your institution, you stay. See, a lot of Americans are looking at those pay cuts and thinking, ‘How do I get in on the action?' So I don't really care."
A lefty magazine editor has come up with a list of brilliant solutions to the planet's purported climate change problem: make the recession worse, make goods more expensive, and restrict all intercontinental travel to blimps.
So said Emily Douglas, web editor for The Nation, who, when asked Wednesday how we could "reverse our culture of consumerism," replied immediately "make the recession worse."
She later claimed that her response was a bit "tongue-in-cheek," according to CNS News, but admitted that her magazine "never shies away from doomsday scenarios."
Lately there's has been an anti-Wall Street sentiment, propagated by the media that has become exacerbated as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) hit 10,000 Oct. 14.
On CNBC's Oct. 15 "Street Signs," Jim Cramer, host of "Mad Money," was asked by fill-in host Melissa Francis what he thought about the outrage over Wall Street hitting its stride, while unemployment continues to rise.
"What did you think about [Morgan Stanley CEO] John Mack's answer to the big question of the day, which is the divergence between Main Street and Wall Street?" Francis asked. "We see Dow 10,000 - bonuses are back at the same time Main Street is in a shambles."
Cramer took a different and unexpected tact by explaining he was a Spartacist, one who believed in a Communism in his youth. But during that time in his life, he said he became very familiar with the teachings of Vladimir Lenin.
You might think that the three major networks would look favorably upon the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) breaking through the symbolic 10,000 mark. After all, it they could use it as an opportunity to spin the news as a victory for Barack Obama and his economic policies.
But that wasn't the case. Instead ABC, CBS and NBC used the occasion to point out that the rich on Wall Street are getting bonuses for the performance of the stock market, while others across the country are suffering.
"Now, if an economic recovery is under way, not everyone is sharing in it equally," "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric said. "Pick up today's Wall Street Journal and you'll read banks and securities firms are on track to pay their employees record amounts this year. And, you pick up The New York Times and you'll see some workers are being forced to take huge pay cuts."
Is NFL Players Association Chief DeMaurice Smith being forthright when he contends he wants to protect the sport from "discrimination and hatred" as he has claims, or is he engaging in partisan hackery, with the benefit of having the ear of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell? If you look at Smith's past, you might come to that conclusion.
"I've spoken to the Commissioner [Roger Goodell] and I understand that this ownership consideration is in the early stages," Smith wrote. "But sport in America is at its best when it unifies, gives all of us reason to cheer, and when it transcends. Our sport does exactly that when it overcomes division and rejects discrimination and hatred."
A New York Times article by Nick Bunkley on Friday targeted for print on Saturday about the status of contract talks between Ford Motor Company and the United Auto Workers piqued my interest in a previously neglected but important matter.
Ford and the UAW are apparently close to an agreement. In describing what Ford workers are being asked to give up, Bunkley wrote the following (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Ford executives have said the company needs more concessions to keep G.M. and Chrysler from having an advantage.
.... The deal that U.A.W. workers at Ford approved in March got rid of cost-of-living pay increases and performance bonuses through 2010 and eliminated the jobs bank program, which allows laid-off workers to continue receiving most of their pay. In addition to those concessions, G.M. and Chrysler workers agreed to work-rule changes and a provision that bars them from striking.
What? From press coverage at the time, you would have thought that unionized GM and Chrysler workers made ginormous, humungous, unprecedented sacrifices to enable their companies to get through bankruptcy and to emerge as lean, mean vehicle-making machines.
Based on the data, the current job situation for teenagers in America is the worst on record.
According to Uncle Sam's Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Seasonally adjusted teenage unemployment hit 25.9%. That is the highest rate in the nearly 62 years BLS has been reporting this number. The previous record was last month's 25.5%. The record before that was 24.1% in November and December of 1982. A graphic of the complete history of the teenage unemployment rate that will open in a new window is here.
Unemployment among black teens not enrolled in school is over 50%.
The rate among 20-24 year-olds is also alarmingly high at 15.1%.
Almost alone among establishment media publications -- and even then in an editorial, not a regular news report -- the Wall Street Journal commented on this distressing set of circumstances, identified the most likely cause of the problem, and worried about its longer-term consequences:
ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, was hit hard by the videos showing employees giving tax avoidance advice to a "pimp" and "hooker."
But Maddow rose to the defense of ACORN which she called a right-wing "bogeyman," crusading for them on her MSNBC show. She accused corporations of going into "kill mode" against the organization which helps "poor people."
Try to keep a straight face when you hear this: President Barack Obama isn't getting enough media love.
That's the world view of MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews - at least when it comes to the economy. According to Matthews, there has been a plethora of positive economic news - from a stock market that has shrugged off the threat of bad liberal policy, i.e. cap-and-trade or ObamaCare, to the actions of newly reappointed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke of pumping liquidity into the economy.
"What do you make of this whole thing about the good economic news out there the president gets no credit for?" Matthews said on his Aug. 25 show. "I'm in the stock market. I have suffered like others before and I have seen this comeback - back up to almost 10,000 now. He gets nothing for this. The fact that consumer confidence, which was once closer to the bone, is way up. The fact that the Fed chair has done such a good job in pumping up the money supply and pumping back the economy, and averting a Great Depression - no credit."
Ben Bernanke's able use of monetary policy to steer the economy during the current financial crisis sometimes makes it easy to forget that Bernanke helped steer the ship into that crisis early in his term as Federal Reserve Chairman and a member of the Fed's Board of Governors. That's a point Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor) founder and CEO George Friedman made when asked the likelihood of President Obama reappointing Bernanke.
"Bernanke presided over the events leading up to the greatest financial crisis we've seen in quite a while," Friedman told CNBC's Steve Liesman. "The best that can be said is that he didn't make it any worse than he already made it. The president is not going to be wanting to reappoint the man that most of the country regards as responsible for the problem."
On Aug. 3, Richard Bernstein, CEO of Richard Bernstein Capital Management and CNBC contributor, told "Squawk Box" viewers: "One has to wonder how much TARP money has gone into bank balance sheets to speculate on commodities, right? Because the amount that's - the amount of speculation in commodities on bank balance sheets is much larger than what you get from the CFTC."
Unnoticed in the recent upheaval surrounding the fallout from the Iranian elections earlier this month has been how it could affect the price of oil, and therefore the price of gas. And according to Fox Business Network "Happy Hour" co-host Eric Bolling, the longer this goes, the more likely you'll see it at the gas pump.
"Now think of this - it takes about 45 days to take a barrel of oil, run it through a refinery and hit the pump, the price at the pump," Bolling said. "So knowing this, for the next two or three weeks, at least, at minimum, pump prices will continue to rise. It may go down a penny or two here, but in general they'll continue to rise."
"North Korea, Syria - I mean these are places when they always have elections, there's always a couple of people who don't vote for the right guy," Cramer said. "But I think the price of oil is going to tell you exactly how everything is going to play out in Iran, which is it's much ado about nothing."
Some of us have speculated that many newsrooms in America are so hell-bent on maintaining their supposedly hallowed positions -- and that by their way of "thinking" they are exempt from the normal laws of economics -- that they will have be dragged kicking and screaming from their keyboards when the repo men come around to turn out the lights. This week's events at the Boston Globe give validity to that theory.
Let's take it on faith that the Globe, the onetime New England jewel of the New York Times, really has been losing money at the rate of $1 million a week, that the Times really does need to seriously cut costs, and that all of the Globe's unions have to make concessions if the paper is to either survive within the Times, or as rumored, be salable to whatever outside entity might be brave enough to take it off the Old Gray Lady's hands.
Six of the Globe's seven(!) unions have agreed to accept concessions. They include "drivers, mailers, pressmen, electricians, machinists and technical-services workers."
Ed Frank created an interesting little video that serves as a stark reminder of how harsh the Old Media was on Bush's "faltering" economy in comparison to today's hearts and flowers style of reporting during the age of Obama, even though the stats are far, far worse under Obama than they ever were under Bush.
Frank's video is shocking for its revelation of how Bush was slapped around and how every economic indicator during his tenure in the White House was deemed as obvious proof of the supposed though times we then faced. Yet now, every dismal indicator is celebrated as if recovery just around the corner. Under Bush the Old Media was sure the economy was a wreck, now the wreck proves we will surely be saved by Summer!
With the federal government issuing massive amounts of debt and the Federal Reserve purchasing it in the name of keeping interest rates down, questions have arisen about impact on the U.S. dollar.
On June 2, CNBC's "Power Lunch," aired a clip of the network's chief economics reporter, Steve Liesman interviewing Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner. Geithner claimed the Federal Reserve wasn't monetizing the debt the government was accruing. Following that clip, CNBC's Chicago Mercantile Exchange floor reporter Rick Santelli, famous for inspiring the anti-tax-and-spending tea parties, questioned Geithner's denial of debt monetization.
"Well, you know the first part of that question was economists are worried about quantitative easing - are we monetizing?" Santelli said. "And his answer was no, we have a strong independent central bank. Now the latter may be true but it certainly isn't an answer to the question and I put forth, and I'd like feedback everybody - that quantitative easing can't exist without the monetization process. We issue debt; we print the money to buy it. That is monetizing. I can't believe that was his answer."
It's a response that might incite laughter, as it did from conservative pundit Monica Crowley and MSNBC paleocon talker Pat Buchanan. According to Newsweek's Eleanor Clift, the current problems facing the country and President Barack Obama are due to capitalism.
"I give him a B+ because there's a lot of outcomes that haven't come in yet," Clift said. "But look, this isn't about the failure of government and the Republicans are on the wrong tact talking about big government. This is a failure of capitalism. He's trying to save capitalism."
On CNBC's April 24 "The Call," Santelli expressed his frustration with an overreaction by the government to solve the financial crisis when Kudlow asked him about the expansion of bailout obligations from the original TARP bailout price tag $750 billion to the $3 trillion.
"Listen - I'm glad I didn't say that, I'm glad I didn't say all that," Santelli said. "Do I disagree with it? Probably not. But, I'll take it a step farther - in the beginning, whether it was the commercial paper program, there was a need just like babies have a need for milk. But I don't need to drink a couple of gallons anymore."
While Fox News has celebrated the Taxpayer Tea Party rallies and MSNBC has denigrated them, the impetus of the movement - CNBC and specifically Rick Santelli, its inspiration - had been conspicuously quiet about it.
"A lot of articles about these tea parties," Kernen said. "They all have your name in them, like you caused it. Are you actually attending any or are you just sort of got the idea going initially? What do you think? I mean, you're like a cultural phenomenon at this point."
Even before a single bag of tea has been dumped as a form of protest over government economic policies, the gang at MSNBC is in full-attack mode over the notion these protests merit any recognition.
On MSNBC's April 10 "Countdown," fill-in host David Shuster imitated his MSNBC colleague Rachel Maddow's juvenile and overdone description of the tea party protest to disparage the upcoming nationwide event.
"Now to the so-called ‘teabagging parties' you may have heard about," Shuster said. "They have been fluffed repeatedly by Fox News. Citizen protests over the government's collection of taxpayer money, specifically that the wealthiest taxpayers in our nation will see their rates go up 3 percent two years from now."
Ed Schultz debuted on MSNBC during the 5 p.m. slot on April 6 with a flashy new set. And although the liberal radio host's "The ED Show" is in its infancy, it has one apparent theme - it's very pro-organized labor.
Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers, was even Schultz's first guest. On his second show on April 7, Schultz's opening "OpEd" segment was firmly for the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as card check. And, on his third show on April 8, he invited Mary Beth Maxwell, executive director of the pro-union, pro-card check American Rights at Work organization.
However, there's one detail Schultz hasn't revealed to his audience - a potential conflict of interest. As recently as 2008, Schultz received more than $20,000 from three separate AFL-CIO affiliated labor unions.
Although CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer has backed off his hyperbolic attacks on President Barack Obama ever since his "Daily Show" appearance, he's shown that he's not afraid to take on the Democratic-controlled Congress.
So, to give credit where credit is due, the "Mad Money" host dedicated an entire segment to the Employee Free Choice Act, aka card check and how its passage by Congress could be detrimental to Wal-Mart's (NYSE:WMT) stock price on his April 3 program. And during the segment, Cramer used three references to Soviet/Russian communism to describe the Democrat effort pushing card check.
"Right now, in Congress - they're getting ready for what is essentially a referendum on Wal-Mart," Cramer said. "And the referendum's name is the Employee Free Choice Act, also known by slang as card check - a bill that will make it much easier for workers to form unions and much harder for employers to get in their way."