At the Associated Press today, economics writer Christopher Rugaber was a bit subdued, even when presented with nominally favorable news. He wrote that the March rise in the National Association of Realtors' pending home sales index of 3.4 percent, the first gain in nine months, was "a sign that the housing market might pick up after a sluggish start to the year."
Rugaber's relative ruefulness, which after being fed through the media translator actually means "Things really stink," is understandable once one looks at how pathetic that gain is in the circumstances, and at a key paragraph in the NAR's press release which he chose to ignore.
March was going to be the month when new home sales in the U.S. would finally break out after several months of horrible weather. After all, everyone knew that this winter's snow, ice, and low temperatures were the only things holding the new home market back. Consensus predictions ahead of today's related report from the Census Bureau were in the range of 450,000 to 455,000 annualized sales.
Oops. New home sales dove to a seasonally adjusted annualized 384,000, a 14.5 percent decline from February, a slightly larger miss compared to expectations, and a whopping 13.3 percent lower than March 2013. Press reports on this result predictably brought on appearances of the U-word ("unexpectedly"), with at least one interesting twist.
Associated Press stories today on the quarterly earnings releases of Wells Fargo (unbylined) and JPMorgan Chase (by Steve Rothwell) essentially mocked the nearly continuous monthly stream of reports the wire service's economics writers, particularly Martin Crutsinger and Chris Rugaber, have generated about the "housing recovery" during at least the past year.
The Wells Fargo story disclosed that the nation's largest mortgage lender "funded $36 billion worth of mortgages in the first quarter, down sharply from $109 billion a year earlier." The following graphic from the bank's detailed financial report tells the full story:
Veteran journalist David Collins is a columnist at the New London Day in Connecticut.
In a column supposedly published on Sunday but "updated" on Saturday (I'm not kidding), Collins assessed the aftermath of the Supreme Court's odious Kelo v. New London decision in 2005 in reacting to a lengthy story by Charlotte Allen in the February 10 issue of the Weekly Standard. In the process, he betrayed two erroneous mindsets about the case which I believe are common among members of the establishment press. The first is that it was purely a matter of "conservatives" backing property rights against "liberal interventionism." The second is his contention that the total lack of any development in the contested area in the nearly nine years since the Court's decision "is not that compelling beyond New London."
This past Monday, Andrew Theen at the Oregonian reported that "Trader Joe's is backing away from a development in Northeast Portland," citing, in the company's words, "negative reactions from the community."
Actually, the vast majority of "the community" wanted the grocery chain to build in the once bustling but now troubled area. Theen quoted Portland's "city leaders" as calling the decision "a loss for the city and particularly for Northeast Portland." Neighbors and business owners in the area, described here as "once the heart of Portland’s African-American community," had been "thrilled" about the project. It's people who largely aren't part of that community who opposed the deal. On Friday, as will be seen after the jump, Theen had a chance to fully expose the radical, backward-looking grievance mongers who stopped progress, and to a significant extent blew it.
The Census Bureau reported today that sales of new single-family homes in the U.S. reached an annualized level of 421,000 in August. That was up by almost 8 percent from July, but a whopping 15 percent below the 497,000 the bureau originally reported for June (two subsequent revisions have taken that number down to 454,000). Given the shock decline to below 400,000 in July, August's bounceback was clearly inadequate. Additionally, as Zero Hedge noted this morning, the median new-home sales price fell to its "lowest level since January 2013."
Potentially the most dishonest aspect of the Obama-loving media's reporting since January 20, 2009, pertains to how they've almost totally ignored how poorly the economy is performing.
On Tuesday, Michael T. Snyder, author of the gloom and doom book "The Beginning of the End," wrote a fabulous piece titled "33 Shocking Facts Which Show How Badly The Economy Has Tanked Since Obama Became President":
On Friday, Eric Holder's Department of Justice gave the memory-hole treatment to wildly inflated statistics released last October about the number of cases and the amount of money involved in DOJ's mortgage fraud enforcement efforts.
Bloomberg News reporters who had discovered that the original numbers were suspect had been getting stonewalled for months in their efforts to get answers to their queries, and finally got them through the document-dump route. The differences are stark.
Continuing the business press's slavish devotion to seasonally adjusted figures in government reports to the exclusion of looking at what actually happened, Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, began his Tuesday dispatch on May's new-home sales report from the Census Bureau as follows: "Sales of new homes rose in May to the fastest pace in five years, a solid gain that added to signs of a steadily improving housing market."
Except for two "little" things: Fewer homes were actually sold in May than were sold in April, and May's reported increase in seasonally adjusted annualized sales only came about because of a tax break which ended in April 2010:
How ironic it is that, as Kyle Drennen noted today at NewsBusters, that NBC's David Gregory was so vocal in advocating that "Government Playing a Bigger Role" in the economy, given that yesterday was the eighth anniversary of the Kelo vs. New London decision, a monument to colossal government failure if there ever was one.
A 5-4 Supreme Court majority, believing that the Connecticut city of New London had "carefully formulated a development plan ... (with) appreciable benefits to the community," violated the plain language of the "public use" clause of the Constitution's Fifth Amendment which was clearly designed to limit government eminent-domain takings to true public projects (e.g., roads, bridges, etc.). They instead decided that "public use" really means "public purpose" (i.e., anything the government wants to do, including condemning property so that it can be transferred from current to new owners in the name of some higher good).
Two years ago, Jimmy McMillan ran for New York governor and became a viral sensation, with more than 7 million Youtube views. Now the creator of The Rent is Too Damn High party is running for New York City mayor and has expanded his platform is his new rap anthem video.
In the first 30 seconds of his video, the news reporter declared that rent in New York is at an all time high. “Critics say Bloomberg has failed.” McMillan pointed out that mayor’s economic record is one of failure.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and MSNBC's Joe Scarborough had an at times heated discussion about budget deficits, debt, and the economy on PBS's Charlie Rose Monday evening.
At one point Krugman got so rattled by the facts that he actually said Scarborough quoting what he had said in the past was making an ad hominem attack against him (video follows with transcript and commentary):