Yesterday, Bloomberg News reported that Fiat "is considering building Chrysler models in Italy, including Jeeps, for export to North America." Today, that news became real when company CEO Sergio Marchnionne announced, in Bloomberg's words (in paragraph 6, subtitled "Italy's Jeep"), that it will "build a small Jeep in Italy for export beginning in 2014 ... a new model for Europe and the U.S. that isn’t currently in production."
Of course, today's Bloomberg report led with Marchionne's clever denial about the company's plans for manufacturing in China: "Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China." No, he has instead set the stage for newer Jeep models exported to the U.S. to gradually supplant older models made in the U.S. over several years. This should be an embarrassment to those who engineered the Obama administration's bailout of Chrysler in 2009, ripping off secured creditors in the bankruptcy process and thereby giving Fiat a larger initial share of the company than it deserved. But don't worry, Colleen Barry at the Associated Press is there with vague language to ensure that this news doesn't become general knowledge (bold is mine):
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.
Let's get the easy part out of the way first. The New York Times and the Associated Press are only covering the outrages emerging in Solyndra's bankruptcy in the vaguest of terms. The only related Times item I could find was a sentence at the end of an October 11 Green blog post indicating that "the I.R.S. and the Energy Department argue in court papers" against the company's bankruptcy plan. The AP's Randall Chase was a bit more specific that day, writing that "The plan allows for two private equity funds that control Solyndra to potentially reap hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks after Solyndra emerges from bankruptcy, using net operating losses." Beyond that, the details are news only in the business press, and even then not to a great extent.
Are the private equity funds (you mean they're sort of like the eeeevil Bain Capital?) getting hundreds of millions in "tax breaks" as in tax deductions or tax reductions? Unbelievably, it's the latter (the former is almost $1 billion), as an October 15 Wall Street Journal editorial and an October 17 Bloomberg News item which seemed to be simultaneously trying to catch up to but then cover up what the Journal revealed.
(See Updates re President Obama's statement in 2010 and money the State of Michigan flushed down the drain.)
Eric Savitz at Forbes relays news this morning that "A123 Systems has filed for bankruptcy protection in federal court ... Late yesterday, the battery company had warned that it was about to default on several loan issues, noting that a bankruptcy filing was a possibility; but it still seems startling to see them file just hours later."
What does (or did) A123 do? It "makes rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for electric cars." Savitz can't resist casting the bankruptcy in political terms in his third paragraph:
In an op-ed at "Bloomberg View" on Wednesday evening, editor and columnist Michael Kinsley's headline teased that "Maybe President Romney Wouldn’t Be So Bad," before twice urging readers to vote to reelect President Obama, including in the final paragraph after an alleged parenthetical (and obviously mythical) "Pause for reflection." Ha ha.
What came in between wasn't very funny at all -- and since he's an editor, his view of things presumably has impact beyond his columns. The worst whoppers came in the following paragraph:
UPDATE: Henry Blodget at Business Insider reports that a "source, who is an analyst at the Department, " has told him that "the number of California claims that were not processed totalled about 15,000-25,000."
Today's release of the Department of Labor's weekly unemployment claims report showed 339,000 initial claims filed during the previous week -- a sharp decline of 30,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised 369,000. Shortly after that, the Wall Street Journal reported that "one large state didn't report additional quarterly figures as expected, accounting for a substantial part of the decrease." The Associated Press's framing: "... spokesman said one large state accounted for much of the decline." At Reuters: "one state ... reported a decline in claims last week when an increase was expected."
So you would expect caution in assessing the meaning of the report, right? Wrong -- At the AP and Reuters, they apparently just can't help themselves.
From the "I thought Social Security was supposed to have solved this decades ago" Dept.: The State of California has just passed a law mandating opt-out pension plan contributions of 3% of earnings for six million workers in the private sector, or roughly half of its private sector workforce.
The targeted population is the cadre of those working at employers of five or more who do not offer a retirement plan. It has the distinct aroma of a bailout, because of who gets to manage the money. Excerpts from a predictably dreadful Associated Press report by Judy Lin follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Completing a two-month full reversal of a tiny decline which began earlier in the year, the USDA reported on Friday that participation in the Food Stamp program, which the government wants everyone to call SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), reached an all-time record high in June. The program's had 46.67 million participants that month, eclipsing the previous record of 46.51 million in December 2011.
Only the business press seems interested in covering the story. What follows are excerpts from the story at Bloomberg Business Week, where the most important story element for reporter Alan Bjerga was the impact on Dear Leader's reelection effort:
First, the bad news from a media coverage standpoint. All three major wire services covering today's report from the Department of Labor on initial unemployment claims characterized the seasonally adjusted result of 374,000 as "unchanged" from last week, but failed to note the 98%-plus probability based on the last 75 weeks of history (only one exception during that time) that the number will be revised upward by 1,000 or more, changing today's "unchanged" number to an increase.
That's bit ironic, given that all three wires at least told readers that last week's 372,000 claims was revised up to 374,000. Bloomberg, Reuters, and the Associated Press had different takes on the meaning of today's results, as will be seen after the jump (bolds are mine):
The Associated Press's Anne D'Innocenzio is clearly mystified and possibly even upset that consumer confidence as reported by the Conference Board on Wednesday fell sharply to its lowest level since November of last year.
Get a load of the second paragraph's first sentence in the version D'Innocenzio posted late yesterday morning shortly after the report's release, followed by asinine assertions which in effect say that Americans don't understand that things are getting better -- and, as usual, it's all about Dear Leader's reelection (bolds are mine):
If we're to believe a report by Heidi Przybyla at Bloomberg News on August 13, the country might be operating under bipartisan deficit-reduction framework instead of being without a budget for over three years if it weren't for Wisconsin Congressman and GOP vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan. Her lead: "Representative Paul Ryan was a pivotal figure in killing the 2010 Bowles-Simpson agreement, which Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney now holds out as a model for putting America’s fiscal house in order."
There are many deceptions and unsupported assertions in Przybyla's report, but before getting to some of the others, many of which relate to her inability to recognize objective truth, the two most important related to her treatment of President Obama's role in the rejection of Simpson-Bowles:
No matter how inane or damning his comments and answers to inquiries, it appears that Obama Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner can continue to count on favorable coverage from the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, aka the Administration's Protection.
The AP's Marcy Gordon, with the help of her story's headline writer, made Geither's appearance before the House Committee on Financial Services all about partisanship until near the very end. Incredibly, she also relayed a very important question committee members asked about Geithner's use of an interest rate he knew was being lowballed by British banks as the basis for determining the interest rate on Treasury bailout loans while he was still head of the New York branch of the Federal Reserve Bank -- but didn't tell readers what his answer was. Excerpts follow (bolds are mine):
Todays unemployment claims release from the Department of Labor reported that initial jobless aid applications for the week ended July 14 were 386,000 after seasonal adjustment. Business Insider's email this morning carried a prediction of 364,000. Bloomberg's consensus prediction was 365,000.
At the Associated Press, in his 8:45 a.m. dispatch (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes), Economics Writer Paul Wiseman was inadvertently correct when he wrote that "the figures may have been distorted by seasonal factors." Well yeah, Paul, but the seasonal distortion isn't the one you cited. As will be seen after the jump. today's number arguably should have come in at over 400,000.
A study released Wednesday from accounting firm Ernst & Young, which estimated that the U.S. would lose 710,000 jobs if the Bush-era tax cuts on the highest income earners aren't renewed, apparently isn't newsworthy to CBS. The network's Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning newscasts omitted the study, which also predicted that the nation's already struggling economic output would decline another 1.3 percent.
By contrast, on the July 9, 2012 edition of CBS Evening News, White House correspondent Norah O'Donnell played up a supposed $850 billion "cost to taxpayers" over 10 years if the current tax rates are extended.
One might think that yours truly, who has been nagging the establishment press for years over its blind acceptance of seasonally adjusted data in government economic and employment reports, would be pleased to see that the Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber finally got around to making such adjustments the primary focus of his final report on the most recently released unemployment claims numbers on Thursday. His story's headline at the AP's national site even noted that "Seasonal adjustments to economic data can mislead."
That's fine, but it's not yesterday's full story. Rugaber noted that Thursday's report from the Department of Labor (DOL) -- that 350,000 initial jobless claims were filed after seasonal adjustment -- was influenced by the relatively light level of summer shutdown-related layoffs in the auto industry. But he totally and all too conveniently missed the fact that this year's number looked better after seasonal adjustment than last year's comparable week primarily because, as will be seen later, this year's seasonal adjustment factor was so inexplicably different. First, some excerpts from Rugaber's report:
My, it was awfully nice of Marcy Gordon at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, to give Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner such excellent protection in her report on the New York Federal Reserve Bank's release of documents relating to its knowledge of the manipulation of the "Libor" (London interbank offered rate) used as the basis for the pricing of trillions of dollars of loans.
Her report's second paragraph only tells readers that Geithner, "who was then president of the New York Fed, urged the Bank of England to make the rate-setting process more transparent." What a helpful guy. Readers needed to go to Paragraph 12 to see more about Geithner, and even that information was given kid-glove treatment:
Despite several updates to the story first reported by Bloomberg last night that the Democratic National Convention's "move" of its "celebration" originally scheduled to take place at Charlotte Motor Speedway is really a cancellation likely driven by money problems, the Associated Press has not updated its virtual relay of the DNC's related press release published late last night.
Additionally, in its brief story on Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill's decision not to attending the convention, the AP made no reference to the nine other prominent Democratic Party politicians who have decided they'd be better off not being seen in the same convention venue with their party's incumbent presidential candidate.
The stenographers at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, were apparently only too glad to relay the spin about the Monday night decision by organizers of the Democratic National Convention to move a "celebration" on September 3 from the Charlotte Motor Speedway to an unspecified (in the coverage) location in downtown Charlotte.
The AP's virtual press release follows the jump, after which I'll excerpt an item from Bloomberg a few hours ago containing the probable real explanation for the move -- money.
It wouldn't quite be fair to say that the Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber sugarcoated his dispatch on today's release of the April Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) by Uncle Sam's Bureau of Labor Statistics. But it would be more than fair to say he missed several chances to tell readers how significant the setbacks BLS relayed really were (openings fell 8.7% from a seasonally adjusted 3.741 million to 3.416 million). That's especially true, given what we already know about May's employment situation.
What follows are several paragraphs from Rugaber's report, followed by contextual factoids the folks at Zero Hedge found which the AP reporter missed or ignored:
Sometimes it takes a bit of exertion to disprove an assertion made by an establishment press reporter. Not this time. Today's Department of Labor report on initial unemployment claims told us that such filings "unexpectedly" (as relayed by Reuters and Bloomberg) rose to 386,000 from an upwardly revised (of course) 380,000 the previous week; expectations were for a fall to 375,000. About an hour after DOL's release, Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, told readers that "Applications fell steadily during the fall and winter but have since leveled off."
Well, this one can be taken care of in one easy chart. It starts with what was essentially the last week of winter (the week ended March 24) and goes through the week ended June 9 covered in today's release, with an extra 3,000 added to the most current week to reflect next week's likely upward adjusted (such adjustments during the past sixty-plus weeks have averaged about 3,900).
Last week, what the Department of Labor had originally reported as a dip in new unemployment claims the previous week (from 368,000 to 367,000) was revised into an increase (to 370,000). This week, what DOL originally reported was a no-change situation (i.e., 370,000) was revised into an increase (to 372,000).
It's getting ever more difficult to accept DOL's ongoing underestimations, which now run to 60 of the 61 most recent weeks I've been able to track (the one exception was a "no change" situation during the week ended June 18, 2011). In covering today's charade, Reuters, Bloomberg, and the Associated Press (aka the Administration's Press), all failed to note that this week's revision to last week turned last week into an increase instead of a no-change. In what should be seen as only a marginal improvement, two of the three (the AP, predictably, was the exception), headlined this week's small initial reduction from last week -- which seems destined to disappear after revision next week -- as "essentially unchanged." Excerpts follow the jump.
On Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m. ET, the Commerce Department reported that seasonally adjusted U.S. retail sales in April rose by 0.1%. In an 11:12 a.m. report via the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, carried at the Detroit News ("U.S. consumers hold back retail sales, even as gas prices fall"), Martin Crutsinger was appropriately not impressed: "Lower gas prices in April weren't enough to embolden U.S. consumers to spend much more elsewhere. The Commerce Department said retail sales rose only 0.1 percent last month."
Look how things changed in a late afternoon AP report currently carried at its national site co-authored by Crutsinger and Christopher Rugaber, reworked in time to go into most newspapers' print editions Wednesday morning:
As has been so typical in analogous instances for the year or so I have been following the weekly claims numbers closely, the Associated Press (aka the Administration's Press), Reuters, and Bloomberg headlined a "dip," a "fall," and a "drop" in filings for initial claims, even though the dip-fall-drop from 368,000 to 367,000 only occurred because last week's figure was revised up from 365,000. If this week's figure is revised up by 1,000 or more (based on the past 60 weeks, there's at least a 95% chance of that), the dip-fall-drop will be gone-gone-gone. The AP's Paul Wiseman produced the howler of the morning in the last of the five excerpted paragraphs which follow (bolds are mine):
It is more than a little odd that each of the three wire services identified in today's earlier post (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), in reporting on yesterday's OMG-awful jobs report, somehow failed to mention something about the data presented. Specifically, at Bloomberg, Reuters, and the Associated Press (here and here), five reporters in four stories somehow avoided using two truly required words in describing the data contained in many if not most government economic data releases: "seasonally adjusted."
One is in an odd omission. A pair of such reports is a strange coincidence. The presence of four from three separate sources makes you wonder, especially since all three wire services found room for the two magic words (Bloomberg, though cryptically; Reuters; AP) in dispatches about Uncle Sam's report on initial unemployment claims the previous day. A look at how dismal the not seasonally adjusted numbers were in April follows the jump, and shows how, bad as they turned out to be, the Obama administration caught a lucky break in the seasonal adjustment calculations. It may also explain why the wire services avoided mentioning it.
To the extent that it was there at all, there was far too little emphasis in yesterday's wire service reporting on yesterday's OMG-awful jobs report (worse than most believe, as will be shown in a later post) was far less on those who continue to be affected -- like, say, the unemployed, under-employed and discouraged, who should be the object of such news stories -- and far too much concentration on what it might mean for President Obama's reelection prospects.
This was noticeable yesterday at Bloomberg, Reuters, and of course at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine).
At Bloomberg Business Week, the distortion of what the Social Security system's trustees told the public on Monday began with its headline and opening sentence.
The headline: "Social Security Fund to Run Out in '35: Trustees." Any reader would assume that the reference is to the situation with the retirement and disability programs combined, as both are collectively referred to as "Social Security." Reporter Brian Faler doubled down on the headline error in his opening sentence:
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):
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."
On Tuesday (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted how the Associated Press's headlined assessments at Anne D'Innocenzio's reports throughout the day on the Conference Board's monthly consumer confidence survey went from "falls" to "dips slightly" to "roughly flat" before ending up at "rosy" -- an evaluation the AP reporter also included in the verbiage of her final dispatch. For the record, the confidence measurement fell to 70.2 in March from 71.6 in February. Bloomberg's final report for the day also obfuscated, with a headline of "Consumer Confidence in U.S. Holds Close to One-Year High" and an opening sentence which read: "Confidence among U.S. consumers in March held close to the highest level in a year, underpinned by an improving labor market" -- anything to keep any indication of drop out of what most people would see. Along the same lines, Rush Limbaugh also picked on Reuters Tuesday for saying that confidence only "eased."
The University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment Survey came out today. The press release's opening sentence: "Consumer confidence edged upward as more favorable income and job trends offset rising gas prices." Its value (with a different scale) went from 75.3 to 76.2. That's also "roughly" flat, isn't it? Don't be silly. All three wires said that an increase smaller than Tuesday's Conference Board decrease was an unqualified "rise."
From what I can tell, no one in the establishment press yesterday attempted to quantify the total employment impact of yesterday's announcement by Best Buy that it will reduce its headquarters headcount by 400 and close 50 stores. One thing is certain: It's not just 400, as the headlines and verbiage in certain media reports might lead readers to believe -- and it's not excusable to say that the company itself didn't name a specific number of employees affected by the store closures.
An estimate of how many jobs will really be lost is after the jump, followed by a few misleading media examples. Note that the media review is based on reports from Thursday; today, we began learning which stores will be closing. They include five in the Twin Cities area where the company is headquartered.