French economist Thomas Piketty has become a darling of the left for allegedly "proving" that, as paraphrased by Chris Giles at the Financial Times, "wealth inequalities are heading back up to levels last seen before the first world war." The Media Research Center's Julia Seymour has described Piketty as a "'rock star' of the far-left," an accurate assessment given praises heaped upon his book and especially his public policy prescriptions by the likes of Alternet and Vox's especially gullible Matthew Yglesias. Seymour also notes that Piketty's work has received a great deal of favorable notice in the establishment press, and that he has met "with the Treasury Secretary" and "(President) Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers."
Of course these "oligarch groupies," as Jeffrey Lord describes them, love him. Piketty favors an 80 percent tax on incomes above $500,000 and a progressive global tax on real wealth (i.e., after subtracting debt). The problem is that FT's Giles, having done a deep dive into the economist's data and spreadsheets, has found serious problems in the professor's work which nullify his conclusions.
Islamist radicals affiliated with the Taliban shot and critically wounded Malala Yousafzai yesterday. The Financial Times notes that Yousafzai is "a 14-year-old Pakistani activist who won international acclaim for speaking out for girls denied education under the Taliban." Yousafzai was wounded in the leg from a shot fired at her as she left school on Tuesday.
Yousafzai's shooting was the third item in a news brief aired 10 minutes before the close of Andrea Mitchell's 1 p.m. Eastern program:
The Conference Board's September Consumer Confidence Survey came out this morning. Overall, it rose very slightly from a miserable 45.2 to a still-miserable 45.4. Consumers' assessment of near-term prospects slid from 34.3 to in August to 32.5, while their longer-term outlook improved from 52.4 to 54.0.
At the Associated Press (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes), Retail Writer Anne D'Innocenzio characterized the element of the report relating to jobs thusly:
Thursday, an odd warning emanated from the halls of the supposedly esteemed investment firm known as Goldman Sachs: If Uncle Sam spends $61 billion less during the second half of the current fiscal year, and ends the year with "only" $3.758 trillion in spending instead of the administration's anticipated $3.819 trillion, economic growth will be seriously harmed.
Yesterday, similar nonsense was put forth by Jeannine Aversa at the Associated Press in reaction to the government's report that economic growth during the fourth quarter was revised down to 2.8% from 3.2%, when experts (like the geniuses at Goldman) had expected the number to come in at 3.3%. The headlined whine: "State and local budget cuts are slowing US economy."
George W. Bush may be almost two years removed from his White House tenure, but the haters are still at work.
Gay Marxist playwright Tony Kushner is the toast of London theatre right now for his series of five small plays called "Tiny Kushner." Included in the set is a reprise of his piece titled "Only We Who Guard the Mystery Shall Be Unhappy," featuring Laura Bush reading Dostoyevsky to the ghosts of dead Iraqi children. (Byron York offered enough of a summary here.) In an interview with the leftist U.K. Guardian newspaper, Kushner demonstrated his hatred is undiminished:
"I wrote it after I was arrested at the big anti-invasion rally outside the United Nations in 2003," he says. "I left feeling immensely depressed because I knew we had left it too late to make a difference. And then a couple of days later, Bush said that he was grateful to us, because we had offered him a 'focus group'. I hate that motherf---er, but for once the man incapable of using the English language had hit on something apt: that's what the progressive left in America was reduced to, a focus group."
By contrast, Kushner expressed patience with Barack Obama, even as he proclaimed that the insights of Karl Marx are proven in America daily:
If the goal of whoever leaked the contents of a presentation originally made internally at Toyota's Washington, DC offices and turned over to congressional investigators was to drum up an intense level of negative press coverage against the company, they can sit back and say, "Mission accomplished."
It seems to have started Sunday with David Shepardson of the Detroit News, who reported that the company had "bragged" about avoiding recall costs. Though he appears to have erroneously believed that he had the whole thing, Shepardson's "evidence" consisted of only ten of that presentation's sixteen (or possibly more) pages with a couple of references to "wins." His report was picked and spread widely by the Associated Press's Ken Thomas, who turned "bragged" into "boasted."
Only a liberal could imagine that addressing the federal deficit and creating jobs might be mutually exclusive. On MSNBC's Feb. 3 "Morning Joe," Chrystia Freeland of The Financial Times asked Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., whether she agreed with President Obama's stated intention of addressing the deficit next year.
"Senator, we've also heard from the president that next year - in his budget for next year - he is going to be focusing on deficit reduction, and he thinks its gonna be time be worried about that," Freeland said. "Is that too soon? Are you worried that the president should really be focusing right now still on stimulating the economy?"
Stabenow took the cue to launch into anti-Bush boilerplate. "Well we have to be focused on both and it's tough," she said. "I mean this president not only inherited the biggest deficit we've ever had, but the biggest deficit in jobs that we've ever had. We've got over 15 million people without jobs right now - bread winners no longer able to bring in a pay check."
Did you know that if you don't believe man is responsible for global warming you're a prehistoric cavedweller completely unaware of what's going on in the world?
So said MSNBC's Chris Matthews during a discussion on Wednesday's "Hardball" when he referred to Sarah Palin and everybody else that doesn't agree with Nobel Laureate Al Gore's view of climate change as "troglodytes."
"She`s got to be smarter than this," argued Matthews despite complaining moments later about how the former governor gives autographs: "She doesn`t write the book, and then she scribbles some indecipherable sign on the book as a signature."
Sharing this lowly opinion of the former vice presidential candidate were the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson who called Palin's op-ed about climate change in his own paper Wednesday "a mess," and the Financial Times' Chrystia Freeland who said Palin's views on this subject were "radical" and "dangerous."
Add it all up and "Hardball" viewers were treated to quite a Palin hatefest (video embedded below the fold courtesy our friend at Story Balloon, partial transcript):
Of all the things that might give you comfort in the wake of Nidal Malik Hasan's murderous rampage, where would you rate the news that the military's commitment to "diversity" endures? Down there, dare I guess? Ah, but you're probably not part of the MSM elite.
Chrystia Freeland is. And on today's Morning Joe, the Financial Times editor did indeed announce that she was "comforted" by that very fact of the military's unflagging devotion to diversity.
Joe Scarborough countered Chrystia with a tough question. And--sacré bleu!--Mike Barnicle, not normally an NB fave, made some very blunt and on-target observations . . .
It's no secret the print newspaper industry is struggling. It's become all too common to hear that papers, like the Christian Science Monitor or the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, have ceased publishing a print edition and gone completely online.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright addressed this challenge and its impact on a government at the Aspen Institute's Forum on Communications and Society earlier this month. According to Albright, the fourth estate was intended to keep government in check and that countries without a free press tend to be authoritarian societies.
"Let me just say, in terms of Democracy and the free press, I think it is absolutely an essential part and all we have to do is go back and look at our Constitution," Albright said. "But I have looked at this from a number of different angles. When I was an academic, wrote about the role of the press internationally in political change. And there is no question in my mind, in terms of authoritarian societies, if you do not have information, you can't operate and it is power."
Ever notice the media love to report stories about people fighting the power, unless, of course, the power happens to be something the media favor?
A March 31 New York Times article about Cuba's Havana Biennial art festival highlighted several artists whose political statements were in line with the anti-American, communist outlook of the island's regime, while ignoring prominent Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez, who risked her freedom to protest government oppression.
During an open mic session at the festival, the award-winning Generacion Y blogger criticized Cuban policy and the lack of free expression. However, the Times did not mention her pro-free speech performance art or even cover it in a separate piece. Instead, most of the artists the paper described railed against the usual evils, such as capitalism, America and the bourgeoisie.
Afterwards, the government issued a condemnation that singled out Sanchez for “staging a provocation against the Cuban Revolution.” Fortunately, on Wednesday, Reuters reported the controversy:
The exquisite moral sensibilities of the MSM . . .
Would you waterboard an al Qaeda member for three minutes to get information to save the lives of nine passenger-loads of innocent civilians? Chrystia Freeland wouldn't. The US managing editor of the Financial Times made the stunning statement during the course of a classic Morning Joe dust-up today. Joe Scarborough, with help from tag-team partner Pat Buchanan, went after Freeland on her opposition to waterboarding and similar interrogation techniques. At one point Scarborough called Freeland "sophomoric." Later, the exasperated MJ host gave his guest some of the same treatment to which he'd recently been subjected by Zbigniew Brzezinski, telling Freeland "you have no idea what you're talking about."
Finally, under questioning from Buchanan, Freeland went so far as to disagree with the proposition that it would be moral to waterboard someone for three minutes to get information to foil a plot to simultaneously kill nine passenger planeloads of people.
Joe Scarborough didn't cotton to being called a "socialist," but that's just the label Krystia Freeland laid on him during today's Morning Joe. The Financial Times editor used the s-word to describe what she mockingly described as Joe's "touching faith" in the wisdom of government bureaucrats when it comes to reorganizing Detroit automakers.
The Morning Joe host didn't take the insult lying down.
Panelist Pat Buchanan and Scarborough had been making the case over the course of the opening segments that Detroit was too important to be allowed to go under. Then Freeland came on, preaching bankruptcy over bailout, and the ruckus erupted . . .
With General Motors in serious trouble, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Harry Reid, D-Nev., are making a push for the government to intervene and rescue the auto giant as they did with AIG. However, Francesco Guerrera, U.S. editor for the Financial Times, isn't so sure a GM failure would be as bad as some are letting on.
Guerrera appeared on CNBC's Nov. 10 "Power Lunch" to weigh the pros and cons of the newly revised AIG (NYSE:AIG) rescue package. He was asked if this type of government intervention should be offered for General Motors (NYSE:GM).
"That's what they say," Guerrera said. "I'm not sure I buy that. I think there'll be a lot of job losses if GM fails, but there's nothing systemic in the sense that if AIG goes or if, you know, one of the other banks goes - there'll be a ripple effect throughout not just the U.S. economy, but global financial markets. I don't see how you can make the systemic risk argument for a car company."
Leave it to the foreign press to explain one of the major problems with American over-regulation and subsidies.
The Financial Times published a series Oct. 22 and 23 examining a subject the U.S. media have largely ignored: the effect ethanol mandates and subsidies have had on the ethanol market, investors, and food prices. Here's a hint: the effects are not good.
The first report highlighted the billions of dollars in losses investors have suffered after fluctuations influenced by legislation. Congress passed a mandate in 2005 requiring 7.5 billion gallons be mixed into the gasoline supply by 2012. They doubled that goal in an energy bill in 2007, requiring 36 billion gallons by 2022.
"Congress and the president created a multi-billion dollar market for corn-based ethanol virtually overnight," the report said, leading to a surge of investment culminating in late 2006. But as more ethanol plants came online and the price of the fuel dropped, the companies' values started declining even as the price of corn continued to rise.
Not that there was any doubt that McCain walked away the winner from Rick Warren's forum, but when David Shuster cracks that Obama was lucky not too many people were watching . . . Subbing for Chris Matthews on this evening's Hardball, Shuster kibitzed Saddleback with Dem Steve McMahon and Republican Todd Harris. Shuster made his surprising remark at segment end.
DAVID SHUSTER: I think it also revealed that John McCain's going to be a much better debater than a lot of people think. And maybe also in some sense, Barack Obama is lucky in a way that Saturday night was Michael Phelps' night and not a night when a lot of people were paying attention to politics.
A bit later, Shuster used Phelps to work in an obligatory swipe at President Bush. After rolling tape of a clearly-excited Phelps mentioning that it was "pretty cool" that the president had taken pictures with him at the pool after the 400 individual medley race, Shuster pounced: "even cooler for the president, who's probably happy that someone popular wanted to get a picture with him."
It's the Olympics, Communist centralized planning-style.
The June 7 Financial Times reported on how the Communist regime in Beijing is in the process of employing "unified trainng" to get Chinese spectators to cheer and clap at this year's summer games in the precise manner that pleases the Communist Party leadership.
The "civilised stadium gesture", designed by a team of experts, involves rhythmic clapping, a double thumbs-up and raising of the spectators' clenched fists.
It is to be accompanied by the chanting of the phrase "Olympics . . . add oil! China . . . add oil!" - a slogan more freely translated as "Go Olympics! Go China! - but officials say that other nations can be substituted for China when appropriate.
"These movements work across cultures. They can be accepted and appreciated by people of any culture or language, including religious believers and disabled people," the official Xinhua news agency quoted organisers as saying.
Organisers say advance-sale tickets are virtually sold out, a success that underlines popular enthusiasm for the games but also means many spectators are likely to be unfamiliar with the norms of audience etiquette.
"The world would dearly love a vote in this, yes, epic contest, but will content itself with a ringside seat," Philip Stephens closed his June 6 column about the U.S. presidential election. The Financial Times associate editor certainly played the spectator part, cheering for Obama while booing McCain.
Stephens seemed to argue that McCain may well have stooped to outright racist talking points to win the election, but thanks to Clinton partisans creating the elitist meme, he can use that handily as a proxy for the race card:
The primaries took their toll. The Republicans' John McCain will not have to mention his opponent's skin colour to stir old prejudices among some white voters. He can take his cue from Geraldine Ferraro, a former vice-presidential candidate and supporter of Mrs Clinton. "If you're white you can't open your mouth without being accused of being a racist," she said last week. "They [working class whites] don't identify with someone who has gone to Harvard and Columbia Law School and is married to a Harvard-Princeton graduate".
The FT columnist did make clear that Obama is not the flawless Obamessiah many hoped him to be, but the things he found that took the shine off the Illinois senator were focused heavily on matters of style, not substance:
President Bush's effort to coax the Saudis to boost oil output was given wildly different treatments on the front pages of the Washington Post than the British broadsheet the Financial Times.
"Saudis bow to oil pressure: Kingtom to lift output to highest in two years; US lobbying comes after price nears $128" reads the May 17 front page FT headline. (The headline for the online version is slightly different: "Saudis to boost oil output after US pressure.")
Of course, the Saudis DID agree to boost daily output by 300,000 barrels. As the Post's Abramowitz noted, "[t]hat would take Saudi production to 9.4 million barrels a day" whereas the max the kingdom can pump out a day would be "11.3 million barrels."
The May 14 edition of the Financial Times carries a "Digital Business" special report. The section deals with challenges facing the future of computer dorkdom corporate IT departments. Chief among them, the FT asked in its front-page story, "What is it about girls and IT?"
"They are heavy users of technology yet avoid studying IT," the subhead explained, noting that "female skills" in IT are "in great demand." Oddly enough, the editors at FT may have found one solution: transsexual IT staffers.
Flipping to the back page of the FT's Digital Business special section, readers could find the tale of one Kate Craig-Wood (pictured above at right), whom reporter Peter Whitehead described as "the attractive, intelligent and articlulate 31-year-old managing director of a successful technology business... a woman whose extraordinary journey provides a unique insight into the role that gender plays in the technology workplace."
Did I mention Craig-Wood was male for the first three decades of her life?:
Interviewed for the "View from the Top" feature in the May 9 Financial Times, NBC Universal chief executive Jeff Zucker praised CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric, formerly with NBC's "Today" show. Zucker also dismissed any notion that he regretted not buying the Wall Street Journal.
Here's an excerpt (portion in italics to denote questions by Financial Times):
You worked with Katie Couric [host of NBC's Today for 15 years, now CBS Evening News anchor] for a long time. Would you take her back?
I don't know that Katie's available so it's not really my place to say, but Katie remains one of the most talented journalists of her generation and somebody who would be an asset to whatever news division, whatever organisation she worked in. So we would always welcome somebody of Katie's ability and stature, but that's not . . . on the cards any time in the near future.
Big bad oil company ExxonMobil is "on the defensive in the face of consumer ire and congressional indignation" as it raked in a "huge" first quarter profit, Washington Post's Steven Mufson informed readers of his front page May 2 article.
Mufson later noted that "[d]espite Exxon's colossal profit, the company's stock fell yesterday." Mufson blamed investors "shift[ing] gears" to turn to other stocks and pull out of commodities. Yet Mufson made no attempt to explore how "new congressional vows to come up with legislation" to tax oil company profits might play into investors being skittish about the company, a favored bogeyman of left-wing populist politicians in election years marked by high gasoline prices.
By contrast, the May 2 Financial Times took a less political, business-oriented look at ExxonMobil with a front-pager by Sheila McNulty and Carola Hoyos entitled, "Exxon oil production struggles for growth":
Theoretically one of the pluses of reading British newspaper coverage of American politics is that the reporters and editors would exhibit a certain detachment from the political biases that much more easily ensnare domestic reporters. That often doesn't play out in practice, however, as today's Financial Times demonstrates with a four-paragraph brief on yesterday's Supreme Court ruling upholding an Indiana law requiring voter identification for voting.
"Supreme Court ruling gives Republicans a boost," blares the headline for reporter Patti Waldmeir's April 29 story. While Waldmeir avoided any references to the 2000 Bush v. Gore decision, she saw fit to quote Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) attacking the 6-3 decision as "a blow to what America stands for -- equal access to the polls."
Waldmeir failed to find a Republican to counter Schumer. What's more, the FT reporter failed to note that Indiana voters can always vote with a provisional ballot if they cannot or will not present a valid photo ID. From the Web page for the Indiana Secretary of State:
If there was ever an obvious conflict of interest in economic reporting, this may very well qualify.
NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell evaluated the housing crisis solution proposals of both Democratic presidential hopefuls Sens. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (N.Y.) on the March 25 "NBC Nightly News."
"Clinton was the first of the two to sound alarms about the subprime mess with a plan a year ago," Mitchell said. "Obama followed a week later with a call for a summit. Since then both have gotten more specific."
Financial Times US Managing Editor Chrystia Freeland has become a "Hardball" regular of late.
CHRYSTIA FREELAND: The other thing that people worry about is if someone forecloses on their home, and that's the issue we haven't really seen raised too much in the Rudy-Romney debate. I think as we move into 2008 and the economy looks a lot grimmer, that's going to be another important battleground.
After Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) reported higher third-quarter earnings and predictions of a "strong" holiday shopping season, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) surged 320 points after taking a battering over the previous week.
CBS Correspondent Anthony Mason would probably call it the not-so-almighty dollar, and he’d be correct if U.S. economic health was viewed only through the narrow lens of currency exchanges.
“[T]he weak dollar is really wreaking havoc on investor confidence and in many ways, the impact is just beginning to be felt,” Mason said on CBS’s November 12 “The Early Show.” “The dollar, once the gold standard of currencies, is falling hard and fast around the world. At $1.46, the euro is up nearly 12 percent against the greenback. The yen traded at 110.38 per dollar, an 18-month high. And for the first time since 1976, the Canadian dollar has risen over 20 percent in value against the U.S. dollar at $1.06.” (Click here to see video.)
But while the dollar is lagging, some experts think the dollar is undervalued.