Ridicule by media critics has apparently made some headway against the business press's annoying habit of describing bad news about the economy as having occurred "unexpectedly." Now they seem to be reserving the "U-word" for unexpected improvements, which haven't been seen very much during the past seven-plus years.
Instead, reacting to today's bad news from the National Association of Realtors, which reported that seasonally adjusted existing homes sales dropped by 7.1 percent in February, Bloomberg News said that they "dropped more than forecast." Reuters opened with "U.S. home resales fell sharply," saving specific comparisons to forecasts for a much later paragraph. The Associated Press, which rarely even recognizes the existence of such forecasts, stuck to that posture. AP and Bloomberg both deliberately ignored a red flag about the overall health of the economy the realtors' group included in its narrative. Reuters grudgingly cited worries about the economy as "potentially troubling."
At the Associated Press, in a Friday morning writeup, the wire service's headline writers and reporter Martin Crutsinger demonstrated extraordinary auditory powers.
The headline writers somehow heard the entire U.S. economy start the year off "with a bang." Meanwhile, Crutsinger, continuing to earn his designated title of "worst economics writer" given by Kevin Williamson at National Review almost three years ago, picked up the sound of consumers who "roared back to life" in January. Those of us in the real world utterly failed to detect these things. What would we ever do without the extraordinary talents of the people at AP?
In the context of his pathetic writeup on the government's disappointing report on January new-home sales, Josh Boak at the Associated Press had the nerve to claim that "demand for housing has recovered over the course of the 6 ½-year recovery from the recession."
Wow. Who knew that the industry has made it all the way back to an acceptable level at long last? The obvious answer to that question is "nobody." Even the incomplete picture Boak drew in his dispatch contradicted his ridiculous claim.
Two important economic reports came out today at 10 a.m. One had relatively good news, while the other was a definite downer.
At 2:43 p.m., the good-news item was still listed second at the Associated Press's list of Top 10 business stories, while the bad-news item was gone. That's all in a day's work of news manipulation at what should be called the Administration's Press. (UPDATE: At 9:12 p.m., apparently lacking for any other genuinely positive stories and despite no story updates, the AP moved its dispatch on existing-home sales UP to first on the list.)
The hype machine was in overdrive at the Associated Press on Wednesday as economics reporter Josh Boak covered the government's mid-morning release on new-home sales.
Boak opened by writing that "Americans rushed to buy new homes in December at the strongest pace in 10 months." Good heavens, we're talking about only 38,000 individuals or families, or about 0.031 percent of the nation's roughly 123 million households. While that's a bit of an improvement over previous months — which is why that number converted to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 544,000, the highest figure since February — it's hardly the stampede implied by the AP reporter's use of the word "rushed."
Critics who warned in 2010 that the odious Dodd-Frank law's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would become a rogue agency which would become a largely unaccountable behemoth on a mission to create problems where none exist could not have been more correct.
Sadly, searches on terms relevant to one of the agency's latest controversies involving the distribution of funds in a two year-old auto-loan industry settlement indicate that only two media outlets have given it any attention; separately, a search at the Associated Press on the agency's name also returns nothing relevant. Those two sources are the Daily Caller, whose January 21 story first reported that "White loan borrowers are collecting settlement proceeds ... intended for black, Hispanic and Asian people," and a Monday Investor's Business Daily editorial. That's it.
On Wednesday, Amber Phillips at the Washington Post's The Fix blog impressively took President Obama to task for his over-the-top bragging about the nation's mediocre (and likely getting worse) economy. She noted that "the biggest knock on the Obama economy ... is that the recovery has been very good for the wealthy and certain sectors and not so much for the middle class and everyone else." Hear, hear.
Phillips referred to a study released the previous day by the National Association of Counties, an 80 year-old advocacy group. One of NACo's maps showed that only 7 percent of all counties in the U.S. have fully recovered from the recession. The irony of the county-based results cannot have been lost on the business writers at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press.
During the middle years of last decade, the business press, including the Associated Press, worked the word "recession" into its reports on the economy quite regularly.
Yesterday, despite a current economy facing far worse fundamentals than were seen during 2007, the AP's Paul Wiseman and Bernard Condon gave us a nearly 882-word treatise on "WHY GLOBAL WOES AND SINKING STOCKS DON'T MEAN US RECESSION." In the process, they inadvertently admitted that the business press's recent obsession with blaming any and all weak U.S. economic news on the economies of the rest of the world has been wrong. Additionally, while quoting a prominent bank's full-year 2015 economic growth projection, they ignored the fact that this same bank projected that the fourth quarter of 2015 is on track to come in at a dismal annualized 0.1 percent.
The Associated Press's coverage of Friday's deep U.S. stock market dive in two Friday afternoon reports engaged in the reality avoidance longtime readers here have come to expect.
An item by Stan Choe ("Get used to it: Big drops for stocks are back again") spent most of its verbiage on "volatility," and only cited "China's sharp economic slowdown ... Tensions in the Middle East ... the plunge in prices of oil and other commodities" as reasons why the "volatility" will continue. (AP seems to believe that "volatility" is a synonymn for "decline"; it isn't.) Separately, Alex Veiga's more detailed coverage, after an analyst's insistence that "Oil is the root cause of today," didn't get to Friday's awful economic data until his ninth paragraph, and then only vaguely descrbed "some discouraging economic news." Meanwhile, a CNBC columnist, using a word amazingly not found in either AP writeup, warned that "A recession worse than 2008 is coming."
Most families who flee countries in turmoil to find happiness, health, and considerable wealth in a new land would consider themselves to be living something of a dream. But don’t tell that to Seahawks offensive lineman Russell Okung.
This week, the Associated Press wrapped up a year of largely pathetic business reporting with three items exemplifying the wire service's habits of data-twisting, sloppiness, and convenient omissions.
A deceptive AP post-Christmas story pretended that Christmas-season "spending" was twice as high as anyone else has predicted. A report on pending home sales omitted a concerned comment from a normally incurably optimistic economist at the National Association of Realtors. Finally, the AP appears to have ignored today's Chicago manufacturing report from the Institute for Supply Management, even though it came in at a level which has previously foreshadowed a nationwide recession.
The Census Bureau reported today that new-home sales in November came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 490,000. That was a 4.3 percent increase over October, but it only occurred because October was revised steeply downward by 25,000 to 470,000; August and September were also revised slightly downward. Actual sales were 34,000, the highest November figure during the Obama era but lower than all but three other years since 1970, all during recessions.
It has become painfully clear during the past seven years that the homebuilding industry won't genuinely recover as long as the current reckless Obama fiscal policy and its red tape-infused regime of regulations are in place. So what can an economics writer at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, do to make a "recovery" look at least plausible? Josh Boak's answer: Lower the bar.