OK - it's not really much of a surprise. However, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has responded to the slowing economic recovery with restraint, not tinkering with interest rates and showing a continued willingness to buy mortgage-backed securities and long-term Treasury bonds. And that was roundly applauded by the markets, and CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer.
"Here's what you need to know about the Fed," Cramer said. "They're not in the way. I'm a Fed-is-friend, Fed-is-foe guy."
On CNBC's Aug. 10 "Street Signs," during his "Stop Trading" segment, Cramer explained that the Fed is acting appropriately and noted it wasn't the Bernanke that was holding the economy back. Who is to blame? It's Congress, according to Cramer, with its complicated health care bill and even more indecipherable financial regulation bill.
It would appear that someone at CNBC listened to the Mark Levin Show on Thursday. Either that, or someone at the network paid attention to his or her e-mail alerts and read my post that went up in the wee hours Friday morning (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog). Likely in response to our criticisms, CNBC has revised and "clarified" a report by CNBC staff writer Jeffrey Cox.
The network's revised and "clarified" report still fails to sufficiently inform readers. In fact, the new version seems to be the result of a meeting where the topic of discussion was: "What are the least informative changes we can make while being technically correct?"
On his show Thursday night, Levin referred to Cox's probably original version (now Google cached; copy saved here at my web host for future reference) addressing Deutsche Bank analysts' fears that the expiration of the Bush tax cuts at the end of the year will have a sharply negative economic impact. (For what it's worth, I prefer to describe what's coming as a plain-and-simple tax increase, simply because after what will have been eight years -- 2003 through 2010 -- everyone has long since gotten used to the current income tax structure.)
Here are the first two paragraphs of Cox's report as found by Levin and yours truly (bold is mine):
Gold has been a highly valued commodity going at least as far back as the ancient Egyptian culture in 2600 BC. But now, with economic instability and uncertainty over the health of major global currencies, the demand for gold has risen as a store of value and a hedge against inflation.
Over the past 12 months, the price of gold has gone up dramatically - up 25 percent from July 2009 (from $929 per ounce to $1,163 per ounce, after reaching a high of $1,250 per ounce). That has outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) on a percentage basis.
Like a dog chasing its tail, the left has spent a great amount of time trying to determine who the leader of the Tea Party movement is. And often, there are accusations of prevalent racism among its members. But according to CNBC's Rick Santelli, the Tea Party is more of a philosophy than a group, which has nothing to do with racism.
"First of all, we should have zero tolerance for racial discrimination, period," Santelli said. "Beyond that, if the indirect question is, ‘Is the Tea Party racist?' I think the real question is, ‘Are there racists in the Tea Party?' And I would contend that statistically there's going to be racists in any group."
There's something very tortuous about watching some of the talking heads assembled on NBC's "The Chris Matthews Show," especially when they try to dissect former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin like she is some alien life form.
On the July 11 broadcast of his weekend show, Matthews and his panel analyzed Palin's "Mama Grizzlies" ad spot and attempted to determine what Palin's end goal was with the ad. And Time magazine's Joe Klein attributed credit to Palin's charismatic ability.
"The most important thing about Sarah Palin is that she's a great stand-up politician," Klein said. "I mean, when you hear her talk - this is not a woman who has sat in a room with a political consultant telling her how to pronounce words. It's just her voice."
"There's something in the inflection which is provocative," Matthews replied.
While some on the left side of the aisle in Congress are getting all starry-eyed about prospects of more federal stimulus spending, the first round of stimulus under President Barack Obama may have done even less to help the ailing economy than supporters claim.
On MSNBC's July 9 broadcast of "The Daily Rundown," co-hosts Chuck Todd and Savannah Guthrie interviewed CNBC "Closing Bell" anchor Maria Bartiromo from the Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colo. And Bartiromo offered her views why the economy didn't spiral out of control any more than it did. She said according to some on Wall Street, it wasn't Obama's $787-billion "stimulus" that included a huge bulk of state government bailout spending, but instead action by the Federal Reserve to put more liquidity in the economy.
"Look, there's no doubt about it - we were close to going off a cliff the weekend at Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy, Merrill [Lynch] was sold and AIG acquired by government," Bartiromo said. "You know, I mean I think we were very close and the economy needed stimulus in a big way. It's arguable whether that stimulus that helped the economy was really because of the stimulus plan or really because of the Federal Reserve. I think most people on Wall Street will believe and will tell you that it was really the Fed action in terms of giving greater access to the banks to overnight lending that really, really got us out."
The Twitter "Fail Whale": An irritating part of anyone's day that regularly uses social networking in their day-to-day activities. But could this endanger the viability of Twitter as long-term business?
A couple of analysts say think so. Both CNET.com senior editor Natali Del Conte and Herb Greenburg of CNBC Business News suggested Twitter's infrastructure problems could pose issues for Twitter's survival on CNBC's July 2 "Power Lunch."
"Twitter's down all the time," Greenburg said. "I love using Twitter. I will say it here and now - if Twitter were a business, it would be broke. Wait! Twitter is a business, but it's a private business. Maybe it's the type of business that should go public in this environment because those are the kind of companies that go public.
On CNBC's June 29 broadcast "Power Lunch," Rep. Paul Kajorski, D-Pa. made a pretty prediction about the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) should Congress be unable to pass financial regulation legislation. [Video Available Here]
"You know, I wish every one of them would ask the question and also the industry and media, what happens in this country if this bill fails?" Kanjorski said. "Do you think 236 points down on the Dow is surprising? Check 1,000 or 2,000 points if we fail to change the ways that caused this problem."
That caught the attention of CNBC's Erin Burnett, who played the clip for "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer. Cramer blasted Kanjorski and the entire institution of the federal government for being a drag on the markets for a myriad of reasons on his June 29 "Stop Trading" segment of CNBC's "Street Signs."
It's hard to imagine an economist being provocative, but Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize winner, has managed to do so.
In his June 28 New York Times op-ed, Krugman argued that since governments around the world aren't willing to double-down on Keynesian policies meant to stimulate the global economy, the United States and the rest of the world are facing a third depression. But on CNBC's June 28 "The Kudlow Report," host Larry Kudlow asked if Krugman's premise were true, how come none of the measures being applied, which Krugman advocates more of, have failed to have any effect on the current economy.
"Steve Forbes, I want to focus this, coming out of G-20," Kudlow said. "Paul Krugman's remarkable op-ed today in The New York Times - he says, we are already in the early stages of a depression. He calls it the third depression in U.S. history. He says that it's primarily a failure of policy. But, Steve, the so-called spending cuts or tax increases or deficit reduction hasn't happened yet. In the last two years, we've had gargantuan spending and ultra-easy money which is what Professor Krugman has been advocating the whole time. And he still thinks we're in a depression. So I need to ask you, maybe his policies are what threaten the depression."
If it were only that simple - that is the way CNBC's Rick Santelli would have it.
On CNBC's June 28 "Squawk Box," CNBC's senior economics reporter Steve Liesman vigorously defended the need for higher tax rates as a measure to cut federal deficits. Others argued that government revenues would increase if tax rates were lower because it would stimulate growth. (h/t Real Clear Politics Video)
"Let me get this straight - all you guys want to cut taxes en route to bringing down the deficit?" Liesman asked.
But according to Santelli, it has nothing to do with taxes, but the role of government in the economy.
"Well, you know, it's all about, in my opinion, definition and choice," Santelli said. "Definition, I don't disagree with our guest, Richard [DeKaser, president of Woodley Park Research], about stimulus, but I haven't seen any stimulus. I've seen a lot of spending. And in terms of choice, austerity isn't something people are going to volunteer for. The creditors are going to force it on them. I think these issues are much different than we're selling them. You know, we don't have a new Hoover Dam. We don't have a new electric grid. We paid a bunch of salaries and benefits and extension benefits, unemployment with a lot of that money that you save jobs because you paid teachers because states couldn't afford it I don't think any of that really falls under a definition of stimulus."
Fresh off his Tea Party cover storyin the June 24 Weekly Standard, CNBC's Rick Santelli foresees what could be classified as an economic black hole for the United States of America.
On the network's June 24 broadcast of "Strategy Session," the CME Group reporter explained how the country could be headed down the same path and face the economic calamity the Japanese faced in what is known asthe "lost decade."That period, from 1991-2000, was one which the Asian nation failed to grow economically despite countless efforts by the government to intervene. But as Santelli explained - the U.S. version of Japanese economic policies could result in Greek-style austerity measures.
"The notion that we are turning into Japan has been something talked about on this floor for probably a year and a half," Santelli said. "What changes though, is that it is now a toss up between Japan and Greece and trust me the eventual solutions or recommendations for avoiding the pitfalls of either are completely different strategies. A lot of Japanese say, ‘More Keynesian, more stimulus, spend, spend, spend, spend, spend.' And the other side of the equation says, ‘Well then, you are going turn into Greece.' Where does the truth lie? One thing I can tell you is, is that demographics are a big issue in this story as well. The Japanese have a demographic time bomb similar to the U.S. in terms of underfunded pensions and liabilities."
Wow, just wow. Never would have seen this one coming, but is one of the standard-bearers of the media elite recognizing the Obama administration's anti-business populist tone is inhibiting the U.S. economy?
"It is, certainly beyond Washington," Gregory explained. "You all know it talking to business leaders every day and I do speak to business leaders quite often as well and I hear it time and time again that what you got at the administration are two problems. One, you've got nobody in the inner sanctum of the President's advisers who has ever run a business - who have never run a business. And that's a real problem. I think there's a level of recognition about that being a problem in the West Wing as well. But the rhetoric and the policy substantively, a lot of people feel, is anti-business and getting to a point where it could really discourage businesses in the United States and certainly the multinationals working here as well. That's a problem and I think that element of criticism from Joe Barton, while off the reservation substantively, got to that larger point, which is this populist string."
With the federal government - both on Capitol Hill and in the White House - beginning to take investigative and punitive action against BP (NYSE:BP), the future of the company, at least in the United States, is in peril.
On CNBC's June 14 "The Kudlow Report," John Kilduff, a CNBC contributor and the vice president of MF Global was asked by host Larry Kudlow about a potential debarment from eligibility to be awarded government contracts, which have been very lucrative for the embattled oil giant.
"John, this would effectively be debarment," Kudlow said. "This is something we talked about a week ago, and the prevailing attitude was there would not be debarment because that hardly ever happens in American commercial history. Is President Obama having this as a Sword of Damocles over BP?"
"Rep. Ron Paul is captivated by gold," O'Hara and Keating wrote. "Over the past two decades, he has written books about the virtues of gold-backed currency. He has made uncounted speeches about the precious metal. He even took a leadership post on the House subcommittee that oversees the nation's monetary policy, mints and gold medals."
Reports are surfacing that BP is finally considering a suspension of its shareholder's dividend, but what could have been done differently to avert the public relations nightmare BP is facing? Two CNBC hosts had some ideas about that, and about what could have happened if BP chose not to play ball.
Jim Cramer and Erin Burnett shared their thoughts on the "Stop Trading" segment of "Street Signs" June 11. According to the "Mad Money" host, Obama could have set a foul precedent for multi-national businesses if BP (NYSE:BP) didn't agree to make some concessions on how it is handling its day-to-day operations in the wake of this ecological crisis.
"I think that this is a, a stock that represents great value but you're dealing with the government," Cramer said. "I saw that Nancy Pelosi, she's the second most powerful person in our country, saying that they shouldn't be paying a dividend. I mean, this is one of those situations where I know, the president's approval ratings are down and what you got to do is you got to go after BP if you're the president. I'm not saying I would do it but I'm saying if I were the president of the United States, BP is public enemy number one and you're not even going to listen to what the British say. You just gotta say, ‘Guys, here's the deal, we're not, we're not going to have any dividends here. And just you know, take it or leave it, partner, because this is a company that needs U.S. ball play."
On February 19, 2009, Rick Santelli helped create a movement whose political impact has not yet been fully realized. The "Rant Heard 'Round the World," as it has become known, was a profound, if hardly isolated example of the power of conservative pundits to enact political change.
That power has grown as Americans have become more sympathetic to the economic conservative argument--both the moral/spiritual element of it, and the strictly economic one. The American people have by and large come full circle in a short time, and the pundits that retain the most influence in our society have changed accordingly.
Santelli is the perfect example, as he was certainly not the prominent name he is now before he let loose on the floor of the Chicago exchange. Michael Barone explains the essential appeal of the rant. He wrote Wednesday that it "was both an economic and a moral argument."
When a protectionist law is enacted and nearly a century later it is inhibiting a recovery from major ecological catastrophe, it's probably time to scrap it or at least temporarily waive it.
But instead a nearly century old provision known as the Jones Act of 1920 is wielding the wrath of unintended consequences. According to the Heritage Foundation, this protectionist measure was put in place to defend the American maritime industry, but is endangering far more jobs than it is protecting.
"The Jones Act, which is supposedly about protecting jobs, is actually killing jobs," Heritage co-authors James Dean and Claude Berube wrote in a June 8 The Foundry post. "The jobs of fishermen, people working in tourism and others who live along the Gulf Coast and earn a living there are being severely impacted. There are also additional private sector jobs which are NOT being created in the United States since the Jones Act effectively prices U.S. based companies out of the ability to be competitive on the competitive global market. As we strive to develop new technologies for a cleaner environment at sea, the Jones Act continues to hobble our own capabilities, sometimes with devastating results."
In an article published yesterday afternoon, CNBC news associate Joseph Pisani took note of something the rest of the media mostly hasn't, or at least hasn't highlighted: the terrible job market for teenagers. The headline and text indicate that this is the worst such market in 41 years. That's true, based on the stat Pisani presented. But barring a near miracle in the next three months, in terms of the stat that matters most, the unemployment rate, it's the worst ever.
Give the CNBC reporter props for doing something almost no other journalist has done, which is to use the not seasonally adjusted (NSA) employment numbers as his factual source. As I have discussed several times, including here, the reported NSA numbers represent the government's best estimate of what really happened in a given month, while the seasonally adjusted (SA) numbers published (and appropriately labeled) by the government and reported (but usually not labeled) by the press represent the result after smoothing out seasonal fluctuations.
Maybe President Barack Obama watched a little too much of the MTV Movie Awards on Sunday night. The language seems to have rubbed off.
Paul Bedard at U.S. News and World Report caught an interesting exchange on CNBC this morning about Obama's use of "ass" in an interview with NBC's Matt Lauer. Obama asserted to Lauer that he wanted to know "whose ass to kick" over the oil spill in the Gulf.
Squawk Box co-host Becky Quick criticized President Obama for using "the A word" on the Today show, saying he set a bad example for kids.
"If you're the president of the United States and you go on the Today show, which is a morning show, where you're going to have a lot of kids who are sitting around watching this, I think you choose your words a little more carefully," Quick said.
"I think using the a-word on the Today show when you're talking to Matt Lauer, yeah, that disturbs me," Quick said.
Quick said that it's "silly" to use inappropriate language to prove that you're mad.
If you think government has all the answers, you'll certainly approve of this call.
Former Clinton Secretary of Labor and CNBC contributor Robert Reich has determined it's time for President Barack Obama to seize the reigns of control from BP (NYSE:BP) and put the North American operations of the company into a "temporary receivership." He told host Michelle Caruso-Cabrera on CNBC's June 1 broadcast of "Closing Bell" that the government was the only entity remaining capable of determining if the oil giant was properly utilizing its resources to contain a spill that has been going on since mid-April.
"Well, Michelle, it is temporary," Reich said. "And the government merely takes over the North America operations, the subsidiary, in order to make sure the public is getting the right information, in order to make sure that risks and benefits are being weighed properly - still using the expertise and intelligence of BP. I think, in fact in many ways BP would want some relief and might even appreciate that direct kind of ownership."
With the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) taking another tumble of 376 points on May 20, some investors are pointing to problems in Europe for the sell-off. However, there may be problems at home as well.
"Well, a couple of things," Santelli said. Well, first of all, if you look at the high-grades, they widened out with the high-yields widened out more today at levels today that are wider than the day of the flash crash. That's ‘a.' And ‘b,' you know Maria, we have a 1.2511 on the Euro. This is so much more than just focusing on the Euro."
A far-left Democratic congressman is accusing conservative commentators of improperly -- perhaps illegally -- conspiring with advertisers to shill for their products under the guise of political opinion. The accusers, however, conveniently ignore liberal commentators that do virtually the same thing, only on a far larger scale.
Rep. Anthony Weiner released a report yesterday alleging that Goldline "has formed an unholy alliance with conservative pundits to drive a false narrative and play off public fears in order to sell its products," according to a release. Under "conservative pundits," read the Fox News Channel, and specifically Glenn Beck.
Weiner has this far neglected to criticize Fox's cable news competitor MSNBC and its parent network, which consistently shill for policies that would dramatically enrich their parent company, General Electric. GE's communications arm consistently further's Weiner's own political agenda, so a double standard seems to be afoot in his failure to call NBC out on its colossal conflict on interest.
Talking with CNBC's Jim Cramer on the May 6 "Hardball" about the Greek fiscal crisis, everyone's favorite MSNBCer blamed "right-wing" dictators from the Cold War era for financial troubles in Greece, Portugal, and Spain [MP3 audio available here]:
I'm a political guy, you're a money guy. Let's crosswalk this thing. It seems to me that you and I grew up with the fact there were dictatorships in Europe. They were in the Iberian peninsula and in Greece. You had Franco, who overstayed the Second World War a bit, by about two generations. You had Salazar in Portugal, and of course you had the Greek colonels.
The right-wing governments in Europe seem to be the ones that are most precarious right now: Greece, Portugal, Spain.
What's the connection? Is this a complete coincidence, or is it old-line right-wing politics that never quite stabilized into serious social democratic countries? What happened?
The European Union and the International Monetary Fund to the rescue! The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) soars and investors breathe a sign of relief. But where's this $1 trillion in bailout funds for Greece coming from?
"On one thing, Rick - because you started the whole thing where you said, ‘Are you listening, President Obama?' about paying for your neighbor's mortgage," Kernen said. "Are you, could you really tell the American taxpayer, you can connect the dots between them and Greece? I mean are they paying for some lavish benefits in Greece right now?"
While everyone is scratching their heads and trying to figure out how the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost nearly 1,000 points before rallying back to lose only 347 points - it appears not to be limited to just one stock.
On CNBC's May 6 "Closing Bell," correspondent Matt Nesto explained that investigators for both the stock exchanges and for Citigroup, the firm that some are pointing fingers at for a so-called trader error, have narrowed it down to a futures index called the E-mini S&P 500.
"A person familiar with the Citi investigation said one focus of the trading probes were the futures contracts tied to the S&P 500 stock index known as the E-mini S&P 500 futures and in particular that two-minute window in which 16 billion of the futures were sold," Nesto said. "Again, those sources are telling us that Citigroup's total E-mini volume for the entire day was only 9 billion, suggesting that the origin of the trades was elsewhere."
Although to ask this question is to invite with a good degree of criticism, it is still worth asking: Is Obama administration's approach to publicly reprimanding private industry cause for concern?
On CNBC's May 4 "Squawk Box," host Michelle Caruso-Cabrera raised this point and asked Washington correspondent John Harwood if White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' recent statement BP was a little overboard.
"The spokesperson says, quote, ‘We're going to keep our boot on the throats of BP,'" Caruso-Cabrera said. "How is the Business Council going to react to that when they see President Obama?"
Harwood, who often goes easy on the Obama administration, wasn't so quick to criticize Gibbs for this. His explanation was that it was a little "hostile," but repeated Gibbs' suggestion it was just a regional saying.
A $787-billion stimulus. Liabilities of $356 billion for the TARP bailout on the federal government's balance sheet. And that's in addition to other unfunded liabilities from federal entitlements like ObamaCare, Medicare, and Social Security.
But that doesn't mean the U.S. is heading down the path toward socialism because they were one-time expenditures, according to CNBC senior economics reporter Steve Liesman.
On CNBC's "Squawk Box" April 29, as jobless claims for the week was being released on the floor of the CME Group in Chicago, co-host Joe Kernen asked for Liesman's opinion.
As congressional Democrats press on with their attempts to get financial legislation reform passed, a key component has been lacking from the debate: how to handle the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM) and Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE).