As his final term wanes, the New York Times is making excuses for the economy’s performance under President Obama, with the president himself guiding the way. Economics reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin’s interview of Obama for the cover of the Times Sunday magazine dug in in defense of Obama. The subhead: “Eight years after the financial crisis, unemployment is at 5 percent, deficits are down and G.D.P. is growing. Why do so many voters feel left behind? The president has a theory.” And Sorkin let him unfold the tale without journalistic pushback. And reporter Mark Landler gushed of Obama's self-defense: "Many historians agree."
Just in time for tomorrow's first-quarter economic growth announcement from the government, Bloomberg Businessweek's Economics Editor is telling readers: "Don't Sweat America's Upcoming Microscopic GDP Growth."
Besides, Peter Coy writes, people need to get used to the supposedly inescapable fact that "Normal growth for the U.S. economy is just a lot lower than it used to be." Americans shouldn't worry, even if tomorrow's GDP figure shows a small contraction (perhaps indicating that Mr. Coy has been tipped to the fact that it will be). The key, the glib Mr. Coy contends, is to understand that "Happiness is all a matter of lowering expectations."
If what Barack Obama contended in London, England on Saturday was obviously true, I suspect that the establishment press would be broadly proclaiming it and looking back at the President's wonderful work.
What Obama is claiming — that his presidency is responsible for "saving the world economy from a Great Depression" — is nonsense, but he's clearly beginning to lobby for it to become the historical narrative. This may explain why the Associated Press, while running a story on what Obama said, has made it pretty difficult to find. But it will be there for agenda-driven hacks to locate when it becomes time to spin the history. If a Republican or conservative president made such a claim, the fact checkers would already have been out in force.
It's so predictable.
Whenever a government or leader follows the left's playbook and the results "uexpectedly" don't turn out to be anywhere near what was desired, it isn't the policies' or the leader's fault. No-no-no. During the Mayor David Dinkins era in New York City, it was because Gotham had become ungovernable by any human being – until Rudy Giuliani took over. During the Carter Era, the conventional wisdom was that America had become too unwieldy and ungovernable — until Ronald Reagan righted the ship. We're now hearing a similar refrain about the U.S. economy after seven-plus years of Keynesian economic policies, except that, as we'll eventually see, it involves recycling. On Friday, Jacob Davidson at Time.com engaged in a lengthy excuse-making exercise (HT Hot Air Headlines; bolds and numbered tags are mine):
It appears that there's an effort underway to expand the definition of "deniers" beyond the realm of climate change/"global warming."
Ideally, in leftists' minds, a "denier" would be "anyone who doesn't accept leftist dogma without reservations." That definition would apparently extend to anything relating to the economy, if Associated Press White House reporter and dedicated Barack Obama groupie (yes, I mean "groupie") Darlene Superville had her way. Her story's headline, as she covered President Obama's remembrance of the wonders of the "Recovery Act" — formally known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and informally known as the "stimulus plan — directly targeted those who dare to disagree with Obama, and even attempted to concoct another phony version of "consensus" clearly intended to eventually stifle historians' dissent:
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?
It seems that no degree of exposure to the real world can destroy journalists' belief in Keynesian economic — not even the two decades-plus calamity in Japan.
The Japanese economy has contracted again. According to a report at the Associated Press early Monday morning by an apparently perplexed Elaine Kurtenbach, this occurred despite — not because of — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's "lavish stimulus policies." Kurtenbach also seemed oblivious the implications of the government's deliberate strategy of "reviving the economy through inflation," i.e., stealing citizens' purchasing power, even as wages remain flat.
On Friday, in its January Employment Situation Summary, the government's Bureau of Labor Statistics served up a stack of lemons disguised as lemonade. President Barack Obama declared in a tweet that "We've recovered from the worst economic crisis since the 1930s," and the press dutifully fell in line.
The BLS reported that the economy added seasonally adjusted 151,000 payroll jobs and that the unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent. As has been their habit for years, business reporters failed to label either key data point as "seasonally adjusted," even though they routinely apply that label to most other government data in their dispatches on the economy. The business press almost never looks at the raw (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) figures in any area. If they had looked at last Friday's raw jobs data, they would have wondered how the BLS could possibly have reported such a large number of additional seasonally adjusted jobs.
Observers can be excused for thinking that the politicial establishment is preparing the battlespace to convince us plebes that progress and economic growth are overrated. (That's sort of odd for people who call themselves "progressives," but making sense is not their strong suit.)
How interesting, for example, that Northwestern University economist Robert Gordon's book, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, was released on January 12, even though, as Bloomberg writer Noah Smith notes, Gordon "has been going around for several years making ... (the) case (that) ... the golden days of growth are over." Just in time for the arrival of a more visibly weak economy, Gordon's premise has been getting wildly disproportionate press attention. Smith goes further in his "Economic Growth Isn't Everything" column, referring to "the illusion of stagnation" (i.e., don't believe those weak stats, even if they go negative; everything is really fine), while reminding us of the supposedly marvelous things government has done and supposedly can still do for us.
Over the past several months, economics reporters at the Associated Press have told us time and time and time again that the U.S. economy is "largely insulated" from adverse economic developments overseas.
So why is the AP's Martin Crutsinger going along with the now-shifting conventional "wisdom" that Janet Yellen's Federal Reserve may have to defer implementing additional interest-rate increases for quite some time because of what the wire service headlined as a "darker global economy"? The obvious answer is that the U.S. economy is also weak, and the business press simply won't admit it.
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."