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.
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.
One hesitates to give attention to Jesse A. Myerson. But it's probably worth it, if for no other reason to contend that many of his beliefs are likely shared by the mindless lemmings disguised as "journalists" who wildly cheered on Saturday when an obviously orchestrated "climate change" agreement designed ultimately to redistribute massive amounts of wealth from developed to underdeveloped countries — which would virtually guarantee that they will stay undeveloped — was announced in Paris.
Almost two years ago, Myerson, whose experience includes "the Media and Labor Outreach committees at Occupy Wall Street," identified of "Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For" in a Rolling Stone column. A week ago at The Nation, he vacuously attempted to elaborate on one of those five ideas, namely: "Let’s get rid of private housing."
As yours truly noted in several posts at my home blog on Wednesday and at NewsBusters on Friday and Saturday, the torrent of pre-Thanksgiving "getaway day" economic data was largely disappointing.
That didn't stop the Associated Press's Chris Rugaber from pushing the "All is well" meme late Wednesday afternoon, declaring, contrary to what anyone's eyes could see, that "the fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain solid," that "Consumers appear relatively confident in the economy," and that "Americans are unleashing pent-up demand for big-ticket items such as homes and cars."