The press's failure to tell the public how seriously the U.S. economy is struggling is not the most egregious exercise in reality avoidance we've seen during the past several months. The willful denial of Iran's intent to destroy Israel and its Western enemies, the refusal to acknowledge the inherent institutional ugliness of Planned Parenthood, and the failure to accurately characterize Hillary Clinton's deliberate circumvention of established national security laws and protocols (all because "Her personal privacy was more important than the national interest") are clearly worse.
Nevertheless, the economy-related deceptions have not been unimportant. The press promotes the general impression that, well, conditions aren't ideal, but they're the best we can hope for — and besides, our mess isn't as bad as what we're seeing in rest of the world (and by the way, if the U.S. economy does tank, it will be the rest of the world's fault, and certainly not Dear Leader's). Let's compare Wednesday's exercise in furthering that impression at the Associated Press and compare it to what is really happening.
Here are several paragraphs from Martin Crutsinger's Wednesday report following the Census Bureau's July Factory Orders and Shipments release this morning (bolds are mine):
US FACTORY ORDERS EDGE UP 0.4 PERCENT IN JULY
Orders to U.S. factories posted a modest gain in July, helped by the biggest rise in motor vehicles orders in a year and a solid gain in a category that tracks business investment plans.
Factory orders rose 0.4 percent in July, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Orders had increased a much larger 2.2 percent in June.
... The modest increase in factory orders in July suggests that manufacturing is still grappling with a variety of challenges, from falling energy prices to a stronger dollar, which hurts exports.
... Orders in the business investment category had fallen in four of the previous five months before June, reflecting the soft patch that manufacturing has faced this year.
U.S. manufacturers must contend with a number of headwinds including a sharp slowdown in growth in China, a strong dollar, which makes U.S. products more expensive in export markets, and falling oil prices, which have caused energy companies to cut back on their invest spending.
So, according to the AP and Crutsinger, sure, manufacturing isn't setting the world on fire. But it still posted a "modest gain" in spite of dealing with "a variety of challenges," and this year has seen a "soft patch" due to those "headwinds." But really, people, it's not all that bad.
The Census Bureau's detailed manufacturing orders and shipments tables show that year-over-year monthly manufacturing activity fell behind the previous year in November 2014 and has gradually gone into ever-deeper decline this year through July. Given that the Institute for Supply Management's Manufacturing Index dropped in August, it's likely that the current nine-month year-over year losing streaks in both metrics will continue for at least another month.
How ugly has this year been? This ugly (more detail is at my home blog for those who can stand it):
This is horrible:
- The dollar value of shipments is down by over 3-1/2 percent from last year and is even lower than 2013. It's only marginally ahead of 2008.
- The dollar value of orders is down by over 7 percent from last year, is more than 2 percent below 2013, and is even lower than 2008.
The above amounts represent about one-third of the nation's Gross Domestic Product. It's reasonable to wonder how GDP can still be positive when indicators such as the above have been so negative for so long.
If this were happening during a Republican or conservative administration, the AP's Crutsinger would (validly) be wondering the same thing. But since this is a Democratic administration, the Associated Press is really the Administration's Press, we've gone nine months with barely a mention of the serious ongoing decline in manufacturing. Instead, readers are led to believe that all is well, or at least tolerably so.
No it isn't.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.