John Llloyd spotlighted how Ted Cruz has picked a fight with the media in a Thursday item for Reuters: "Most Republican contenders take a swing at the media, but Cruz swings more than others." Lloyd pointed out how after his victory in Iowa, Cruz "did not forget to say that it was the American people, not the media, who had chosen him. A supporter emphasized the point by waving a placard in front of the camera, urging viewers — 'Don't believe the liberal media.'" This sign is actually part of a Media Research Center campaign targeting the media's liberal slant.
One of the economy's more important bellwethers has been on a steep year-long decline which shows no signs of abating this year. It's barely news, and much of the sparse reporting seen has been incomplete and sloppy.
Truckinginfo.com reported today that "January was a tough month for truck manufacturers as Class 8 truck orders were down 35% compared to the previous month, according to a preliminary report from ACT Research." This follows a 2015 calendar year during which total orders came in 25 percent lower than 2014. A Google News search indicates that only Reuters and the Wall Street Journal found this information important enough to cover. Reuters might as well not have bothered, given the sloppiness of its report as carried at CNBC:
As has been its habit during the Obama administration when the economy turns in a poor performance, the press's coverage of yesterday's report on U.S. economic growth focused on how much better next quarter's news will supposedly be. Especially in this instance, the beat reporters and pundits should have looked at whether or not yesterday's initial result will hold up, or whether it's likely to be revised downward.
The government's Bureau of Economic Analysis reported yesterday that the economy grew at an annualized rate of 0.7 percent in last year's fourth quarter. That's bad enough, but statements published by a leading GDP prognosticator before the BEA's release, once applied to yesterday's data, foreshadow a distinct possilbity that February's or March's revision will come in with a minus sign preceding it.
Friday morning, the government reported that the economy grew at a pathetic annual rate of 0.7 percent in last year's final quarter.
As it did in covering the disappointing Christmas shopping season, the business press partially blamed yesterday's awful result on the weather, i.e., warm weather.
The business press worships at the altar of seasonally adjusted data. Most journalists covering the economy don't even bother looking at raw, not seasonally adjusted data, which in layman's terms is best understood as "what actually happened." As I have shown for nearly a decade, this is often a big mistake.
On the rare occasions when reporters take the initiative to look at the raw data, they usually ignor it, or fail to grasp its meaning. A perfect example of that phenomenon occurred today at Bloomberg News. The business press is blindly accepting a reported 10.5 percent drop in existing home sales as evidence of all kinds of problems, including — supposedly, but not really — a regulation-driven extension of closing time frames. Though Bloomberg's Victoria Stilwell was astute enough to look at the underlying data, unlike her fellow reporters at the Associated Press and Reuters, she completely ignored how doing so blew up the narrative.
Reuters and reporter Lucia Mutikani went way overboard today in reacting to today's residential construction news from the Census Bureau.
Mutikani's headline contended that today's "housing data signals economic strength," while a section title claimed that there are "strong housing fundamentals." That can only possibly be true if one believes the world began in 2007.
Twenty years of economic growth averaging less than 1 percent have failed to convince Japan's leaders — and apparently its citizens — that Keynesian-style government spending and handouts are not the answer to turning that long-suffering nation's economy around.
So the Shinzo Abe government, fresh from learning that the country is in yet another recession — its fifth since 2008 — is doing more of the same, while counting on press shills around the world like the Associated Press's Elaine Kurtenbach to be gentle in their coverage. Kurtenbach cooperated as expected early Friday morning (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Call it the triumph of the "new normal."
At Reuters today, after today's first revision of third-quarter gross domestic product showed that the economy grew by an annualized 2.1 percent, up from the late-October estimate of 1.5 percent, reporter Lucia Mutikani and Editor Paul Simao demonstrated that they have completely given in to the artificially lowered expectations of past seven miserable years. Despite the fact that annual growth in the U.S. economy averaged 3.4 percent from 1946-2007 — a period which included ten recessions — and that it has seen four-year spurts averaging over 4 percent several times in the past three decades, the Reuters pair claims that its "long-run potential" is now only 2 percent, thus making today's 2.1 percent result "respectable."
Gosh, this gets tiresome.
Once again, with one noteworthy exception, the business press's virtually blind acceptance of seasonally adjusted economic data, and its accompanying refusal to look at the underlying raw data, led it to paint a deceptive picture of an important element of the economy. This time, it was existing home sales for October. The seasonally adjusted annual rate for October reported by the National Association of Realtors this morning is almost 4 percent higher than seen in October 2014. The trouble is, the raw sales data show an increase of less than 1 percent.
Pulling an Officer Barbrady, the Reuters news wire this afternoon essentially told us all to "move along, people" as regards news of five Syrians caught in Honduras bound for the U.S. with fake Greek passports.
Japan's two-decade romance with Keynesian economics has led to another betrayal — and yet the press and all the supposedly smart economists and analysts seem to believe that just one more fling might bring about a different result.
The Land of the Rising Sun, aka the Land of the Two-Decade Zombie Economy, has just reported an annualized contraction of 0.8 percent in the third quarter. The decline, following a revised 0.7 percent second-quarter downturn, means that the country is once again in a recession — its second in three years (Update: And fifth since 2008). Oh, but don't worry. It's no big deal. The Associated Press insists that it's only a "technical" recession, and more Keynesian "stimulus" could set things right — even though such measures, in place to varying degrees since the 1990s, have consistently failed to bring about sustained, meaningful recoveries:
On Thursday, the government reported that the nation's economy turned in yet another quarter of poor economic performance, estimating that its gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 1.5 percent in the third quarter.
The business press almost universally downplayed the news, and told readers that the fourth quarter will be better. No one talked about how much the tepid growth of the past six-plus years since the recession officially ended has been sacrificed in the name of misguided and dangerous Keynesian stimulus. As is so often the case, an editorial at Investor's Business Daily did that, performing a job the press has consistently refused to do.