Mercantilism [emphasis added]: An economic doctrine that flourished in Europe from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Mercantilists held that a nation's wealth consisted primarily in the amount of gold and silver in its treasury. Accordingly, mercantilist governments imposed extensive restrictions on their economies to ensure a surplus of exports over imports. In the eighteenth century, mercantilism was challenged by the doctrine of laissez-faire.
When Barack Obama talks—and talks—about the future, does he really mean "back to the future"? You have to wonder after reading the column by one of his economic advisors in today's LA Times. In Renewing America's 'contract with the middle class, Leo Hindery Jr. explicitly calls for a return to mercantilism, the discredited theory of economics popular during the 17th and 18th centuries. Hindery [emphasis added]:
It is imperative -- way past time, in fact -- for America to be as mercantilist as are our trading partners.
"Good Morning America" criticized fees charged to customers who return rental cars without a full tank of gas - part of a standard car rental agreement.
"The only thing more expensive than gassing up your car these days is not gassing up your rental car," reporter Elisabeth Leamy explained to viewers on August 29. She said companies across the nation charge as much as $8 per gallon for cars returned unfilled.
The media continue to have Obama's back after his ridiculous claim tire inflation could be a substitute for oil drilling in a speech at a rally in Missouri on July 30.
MSNBC anchor Alex Witt is the latest in a long line of media personalities expressing irritation that McCain is using the presumptive Democratic nominee's tire inflation comment in his campaign against Obama. Witt interviewed former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott on August 7 about McCain's strategy.
"But sir, when John McCain picks up this tire-gauge issue and you know - throws it about back and forth, doesn't he just perpetuate the problem?" Witt asked. "I mean, if you were advising him, wouldn't you say, ‘Can you leave it alone?' or does it work for him?"
Second quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) doubled to 1.9 percent, up from 0.9 percent in the first quarter, the Commerce Department announced Thursday morning as consumer spending rose 1.5 percent in the quarter ending June 30, up from 0.9 percent in the first quarter, and U.S. exports soared 9.2 percent, way up from 5.1 percent in the first three months of 2008.
Yet the CBS Evening News centered a story around “disappointing” news about the supposedly “struggling economy” (with that on screen) -- while ABC and NBC, which on April 30 led with full stories on the news of a 0.6 percent (since revised to 0.9) first quarter GDP, didn't utter a syllable Thursday night about the big GDP jump. On the last day of April, ABC's Betsy Stark declared the economy had “flat lined” and NBC anchor Brian Williams warned “it's getting rough out there” as the new GDP number “stops just short of the official declaration of a recession.” Thursday night, however, ABC's World News and NBC Nightly News made time for full stories on outrage over ExxonMobil earning “the largest profit ever made by a U.S. company.” The “oil industry says it is not out of line, but some motorists feel otherwise.”
CBS anchor Katie Couric, picking up on the 4th quarter 2007 GDP revision from 0.6 percent to a minus 0.2, stressed how “the government now says the economy was receding, not growing, in the final quarter of last year” though “it picked up a bit in the first quarter of this year.” She then twisted the fresh news of a 1.9 percent jump into a negative:
But look at this: In the second quarter, when all those rebate checks were supposed to stimulate the economy, it grew less than two percent. Jeff Glor has more about the disappointing numbers.
A night after ABC anchor Charles Gibson hit full panic mode by leading with how “markets are gyrating, inflation is rising, banks are closing” and suggesting money is only safe “under the mattress,” on Wednesday night he actually began with how “Wall Street posts its best day in months. Financial stocks rise. The price of oil falls.” But he couldn't be completely upbeat as he proceeded to note that “consumer prices also rose sharply.”
Katie Couric, however, was one hundred percent negative. After teasing Wednesday's CBS Evening News by asserting “the economic vise tightens,” Couric intoned over a matching graphic (see above):
Good evening, everyone. We wish we didn't sound like a broken record, but once again tonight there is troubling economic news. Americans are getting it from all sides. From inflation. Today the government reported the second-biggest monthly increase since 1982. To the mortgage mess where a tight market has sent prices tumbling 29 percent in one year in southern California. And the banking crisis. The FBI is now investigating the failed bank IndyMac for fraud. We have a team of correspondents covering these economic developments tonight...
In the wake of former Sen. Phil Gramm's statements earlier this week about this being a nation full of whiners, the good folks at ABC's "Good Morning America" brought on a consumer psychologist Sunday to discuss whether or not the McCain advisor had a point.
Shockingly, not only did Kit Yarrow tell host Kate Snow that "the way consumers feel about things is very emotional," but also these "emotions are trumping reality" thereby creating a snowball which makes the economy worse.
Yarrow not only believes that things are "not as bad as consumers feel like it is," but also that the media are at fault because "everything is described as a crisis."
What follows is a partial transcript of this rather shocking and refreshing exchange (video available here, photo courtesy ABCNews.com):
Food inflation is hitting everyone - even if don't have to pay for food.
According to the July 2 "CBS Evening News," part of its "The Other America" series - a title strangely similar to former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards' liberal anti-poverty mantra of "Two Americas" - food stamp recipients are being hit by the rising the cost of food.
"With food prices climbing, more and more Americans these days are struggling to feed their families," anchor Katie Couric said. "Nearly 28 million rely on food stamps for an average benefit that comes to only about $24 a week for each person. Many are living hand-to-mouth, month-to-month."
Thursday’s "Good Morning America" used the Fourth of July holiday to exaggerate the effects that food prices are having on consumers. In its "Hitting Home" segment, reporter Sharyn Alfonsi reported on the price increases of certain Fourth of July barbecue staples, claiming that "Americans are gonna eat 110 million pounds hot dogs and that could take a big bite out of their wallets."
With Starbucks’ announcement that it will closing 600 of its locations nationwide, the network morning shows on Wednesday heralded this news as another sign of a bad economy. ABC’s Bianna Golodryga on "Good Morning America" lamented that "Americans are struggling just to pay for a cup of Starbucks coffee." NBC’s Matt Lauer’s clever headline: "Trouble brewing -- Starbucks announces its closing 600 stores in the next year. Is the demand for $4 lattes dying in a tough economy?"
But CBS’s "The Early Show" took the puns and the "doom and gloom" to a new level. Host Maggie Rodriguez teased the headline news: "Starbucks shutting its doors on hundreds of stores. Tough economic times or just a grande letdown?" Correspondent Ben Tracy, in his report on the closings, quipped, "The economic slowdown has been a real grind for Starbucks' profits. After filling up their gas tanks, some coffee lovers don't have enough left to fill up their cups."
On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked to economic analyst Mark Zandi about the state of the economy and asked: "Oil's up, gasoline's up, food prices up, stocks, way, way, way, way down. Home owner -- home values are down. Is there an end in sight to all of this bad news?" Zandi replied: "You just made me depressed. No. It's just bad news. It really is...It's just a really tough time for many Americans."
Later, Smith commented on how all the bad economic news seems to contribute to bad economic events: "It just seems like we're in this cumulative cycle that, you know, once one threshold of bad news gets reached, we reach to yet another one." That comment sparked this exchange with Zandi:
ZANDI: Yeah, it's a self re-enforcing negative cycle. You know, that's what happens during recessions, and that's what we're in the middle of right now.
SMITH: Whoa, is this a recession?
ZANDI: You know that -- that's a debate among economists and policy makers. But in the minds of the average American household I think there's no debate, this is a recession. I mean they're worth less today than they were a year ago, they're purchasing power is lower. I mean, for most people that's the definition of recession. So, economists can debate it but I think most people think this is a recession.
Expensive gas isn't so bad to the "CBS Evening News," as long as it promotes an agenda that caters to left-of-center sensibilities and makes Americans behave more like Europeans.
Economists from Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) (NYSE:CM) forecasted $7-a-gallon gas prices by 2010, which according to some analysts would force 10 million vehicles off U.S. roads over four years. CIBC based its prediction on $200-per-barrel oil by 2010.
"In fact, by 2012, higher prices could send an additional 10 million vehicles off the road," CBS correspondent Priya David said June 26. Although $7 gas would do the most harm to low-income Americans, David praised the effects it would have in easing congestion.
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show, " co-host Julie Chen lead the show with a depressing segment on the economy: "...with the economic woes hitting the nation, we have your complete guide to surviving the big squeeze." Chen proceeded to highlight high gas prices, then explain how "...the crisis in the housing market is also a drag on the economy," and finally, "Completing this perfect storm of economic woes, the devastating floods in the Midwest and how they will directly impact food prices."
When discussing the housing crisis with correspondent Thalia Assuras, Chen asked in desperation: "Thalia can you tell us anything good? Is there any relief in sight?" Assuras then offered a small glimmer of hope: "Well, the Senate toady is actually going to consider a foreclosure prevention plan or rescue plan of looking at the numbers here. It's going to provide $300 billion in new cheaper mortgages for high risk homeowners." However she then made it clear that Bush Administration would soon crush such hope: "But you know Julie, there's going to be a lot of squabbling and the White House has threatened a veto."
Following Chen’s report, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to financial advisor Dave Ramsey and took the same pessimistic tone: "So with all this economic volatility, what are we supposed to do?...if there was ever a time to panic, is this it? It sounds pretty gloomy." In contrast, Ramsey was having none of it: "Absolutely not. I'm sorry I'm not with Chicken Little and we're not handing out helmets. There -- it is not a time to panic, there's lots of good things going on in our economy and for most people this may represent opportunity."
It certainly wasn't surprising how press outlets desperately trying to depict the economy as depression-like in order to get Barack Obama in the White House were practically giddy following the dour jobs report released by the Labor Department last Friday.
What was shocking given the portion of May's unemployment rate rise attributed to high school and college students looking for summer jobs was that virtually no press outlets considered the impact last year's minimum wage hike might have had on young Americans finding temporary positions between school years.
Consider this op-ed published in Monday's Washington Examiner authored by Kristen Lopez Eastlick, the senior economic analyst at the Employment Policies Institute (emphasis added throughout):
You've got to give the media credit for continuing to find new and innovative ways to make the U.S. economy look bad.
This time an increase in Spam sales are being touted as a sign that people are suffering as they are being forced to trade in their fancy meats and poultries for something less expensive - a sign of "our times," according to "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams.
"And in what may be a huge economic indicator, this may say more about our times than we realize," Williams said on the May 29 broadcast. "Spam, the canned luncheon meat product, not the junk e-mail but, Spam sales have surged, lifting profits for the maker Hormel by 14 percent in just the first quarter of this year."
"As the U.S. economy slows, the story is often told through broad statistics," the "about" section of the blog stated. "In this blog, BusinessWeek reporter Tim Catts travels the country to uncover the stories of how individuals are coping with the downturn."
The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal has long been an indispensable voice of conservatism. As President Bush said in 2003 in awarding the Medal of Freedom to editorial page editor Robert L. Bartley shortly before his death, he—and by extension his editorial page—has been "a champion of free markets, individual liberty and the values necessary for a free society."
But there is one area in which the editorial page's policy diverges strikingly from conservative orthodoxy, and that is on the matter of immigration. To varying degrees, the paper's editorialists have argued in favor of a more flexible attitude toward immigration. That tendency reaches its apotheosis in the recently-released book by WSJ editorial board member Jason Riley: Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders.
Riley appeared on this weekend's Journal Editorial Report on FNC to discuss his book with host Paul Gigot and make the case that borders should indeed be opened. Riley seemed surprisingly passive in the defense of his controversial proposal, and I personally came away unpersuaded. Here was the exchange.
Hasn't the MSM learned anything from the unfortunate episodes of John "stuck in Iraq" Kerry and Stephen "if you don't read you've got the Army" King? Apparently not. Once again, the liberal media, this time in the form of the AFP, has perpetrated the canard that the our military is the last resort of the poor and uneducated. An AFP article of May 16 reported the story of Army sergeant Matthis Chiroux, who has refused deployment to Iraq, claiming he considers it "an illegal war."
Chiroux has said that he was "from a poor, white family from the south, and I did badly in school."
And how did AFP describe such young people? As:
[T]he kind of young American US military recruiters love.
BS, I'd say, based on everything I know about military recruiting. But let's let Bill Carr—the Dep. Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel Policy [pictured here]—respond, as he has in a NewsBusters exclusive.
For several weeks, NewsBusters has been reporting the changing media tide concerning ethanol.
On Thursday, PBS's "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" joined the growing chorus of press outlets pointing fingers at biofuels as being partially responsible for the growing international food crisis:
The cost of food has soared as more and more corn is being produced for fuel, not food...[I]t is the government's mandate for ethanol that has doubled the demand for corn and sent prices soaring.
Sadly, the segment ignored Nobel Laureate Al Gore's involvement in this matter, as well as his biofuel investments, but still went where few mainstream media outlets would have gone just two months ago (video available here):
"Of course, real life never matches up exactly with the theory's assumptions. But they represent, economists say, a useful way of making sense of a complex world," Lynch wrote.
"To Soros, the conventional approach is rubbish. Instead of a world of near-identical actors, coolly assessing their economic interests and acting with clear-eyed precision, he sees a world (and markets) governed by passion, bias and self-reinforcing errors," Lynch wrote. "Because fallible human beings are both involved in, and trying to make sense of, this world, they inevitably make mistakes. Those mistakes then feed on themselves in ‘reflexive' ways that, when taken to extremes, result in situations such as the now-deflating U.S. housing bubble."
Since media began recognizing the international food crisis and its ties to biofuels, NewsBusters has been wondering when press members will expose how intricately linked Nobel Laureate Al Gore is to this controversial issue.
On Sunday, Fox News's Sean Hannity finally did just that.
In a segment on "Hannity's America," the host addressed much of what NewsBusters has been reporting for the past several months about this matter, and established a template that hopefully others in the media will emulate if they are indeed interested in helping to solve this growing problem (video embedded right):
Four days after NBC centered a story around an elderly couple forced to move “into their van, sleeping on a mattress in the back” while “high food costs have meant” they've “gone hungry,” ABC's World News caught up Tuesday night with a nearly as silly anecdotal report on how families in Minnesota can no longer afford electricity. In the first of two families she showcased, reporter Gigi Stone relayed Julie Tkachuk's plight: “After paying for more expensive gas and groceries, Julie had no money for the heating bills left over from the winter.” Then Stone described the predicament of a family whose father “says business at his moving company is down 35 percent this year. There just wasn't enough money for the power bill.”
Referring to the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Stone acknowledged that “there's federal assistance for people who can't afford their utility bills,” but she ominously intoned, “the number of applicants reached the highest point in 16 years.” ABC then aired a soundbite from Mark Wolfe of the National Energy Assistance Director's Association, an advocacy group for LIHEAP spending. The group's April 25 press release (PDF) hyping “the number of households receiving LIHEAP funds this year is the highest in 16 years” also, however, disclosed a fact ABC didn't mention -- that increase is merely 3.8 percent over fiscal year 2007 with the number of households on the dole in Minnesota rising from 120,765 to 126,500, hardly a huge jump.
For the rest of the campaign, the Media Research Center will each Tuesday announce its picks for the “Worst of the Week,” meaning the most egregious, horrendous and stupefying liberal bias of Campaign 2008. This week, the spotlight shines on those journalists who rushed to the side of Barack Obama after his minister’s radical comments, and NBC’s ridiculous effort to hype bad economic news [audio/video links below fold]:
Feeling Obama’s Pain. After Barack Obama’s former pastor’s radical remarks at the National Press Club, liberal journalists rallied around the Democratic candidate. Hours after Jeremiah Wright spoke on April 28, NBC’s Brian Williams emphasized those who deemed it a "circus" and a "sideshow," as his NBC Nightly News highlighted the Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart: "Unfortunately, the victim in all of this is going to be Senator Obama’s campaign."
On the day the government reported a tenth of a point drop in the unemployment rate and two days after news of a second straight quarter of 0.6 percent GDP growth proved the nation is not in a recession, Friday's NBC Nightly News delivered a ridiculously shallow story, based on two anecdotes and a couple of advocates, to prove rising prices are forcing the elderly out of their homes and into vans and soup kitchens. Anchor Brian Williams promised “an interesting look...at the toll that rising prices, of things like gas and food, is taking on Americans living on fixed incomes.” [audio available here]
Chris Jansing [that's her by the van] traveled to Northridge, California, just north of Los Angeles, where she found 82-year-old Betty Weinstein, stunned by a water bill, turning to a second reverse mortgage to stay in her home. But she at least still has a home. Jansing then highlighted an even sadder case:
Rising rents forced Scott and Kate Bishop to move out of this blue house and into their van, sleeping on a mattress in the back.
But it got worse: “And now high food costs have meant, for first time in their lives, the Bishops have gone hungry.” Jansing cited no source for her claims as she asserted: “Soup kitchens and food banks are seeing record numbers of seniors asking for help for the first time in their lives,” but “now donations here are down as middle class donors struggle to feed their own families.”
Although the economy is showing only a slow rate of growth, consumer spending actually showed an increase for the month of March. But, don't be fooled - that's a bad sign, according to "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric.
"[T]he government reported today that consumer spending in March shot up twice as much as economists were expecting, and it's not because we're buying more - it's because the prices are so much higher, especially food," Couric said on the May 1 broadcast.
High food prices may be affecting middle-income families, but an anecdotal report on CBS's "The Early Show" April 28 made the situation seem as if one family's use of a food bank was "the new face of hunger."
CBS reporter Priya David highlighted Pablo and Ada Melecio, a couple who recently lost their jobs and have elected to use a food bank to make ends meet. Ada Melecio said their "mortgage payments started falling behind and all the interest on that plus all the credit cards" were making their situation even worse.
Friday's 20/20 aired a piece on liberal columnist Arianna Huffington in which ABC host John Stossel got to challenge Huffington's views on issues like welfare, OSHA regulations, and the "lunatic fringe" of the Republican party. When Stossel took her to task for living in a $7 million home that is "burning more carbon than 100 people in the Third World" even while she is part of the "war on global warming," Huffington responded: "There is no question that the fact that I'm living in a big house, I occasionally travel on private planes, all those things are a contradiction. I'm not setting myself up as some paragon who only goes around on a bicycle and lives by candlelight." (Transcript follows)
Regardless, the good news is that press outlets continue to recognize this unholy connection, and that someone, even at the conservative New York Sun, would deign to report it (emphasis added throughout):
“Tonight, $3.51 – that’s the average price nationwide of a single gallon of regular unleaded gasoline. That means a 15-gallon tank now costs more than $50 to fill. As a little reference point, the week George W. Bush was sworn in as president, the price of a gallon of gas was $1.47.”
Update at end of post: did ABC get these numbers from the DNC?