Records are supposed to be newsworthy, right? But in his Thursday coverage of the federal government's June Monthly Treasury statement, Associated Press reporter Martin Crutsinger only told readers that the deficit for the month was $90 billion. He did not disclose receipts or outlays. Why? Because if he had, he would have had to tell readers that the government spent an all-time record $429 billion during the month.
Readers who have spent any time reading economic dispatches from the establishment press since the presidential election have likely noticed that its business journalists have taken to praising the alleged wonders of the economy President Barack Obama is passing on to President-Elect Donald Trump. Current reality renders the praise completely undeserved, but of course that's not stopping them from engaging in it.
The government reported today that the US economy grew at an annual rate of 1.4 percent in the second quarter. That's a slight increase from the 1.1 percent reported a month ago, but certainly nothing to get excited about, especially given that annualized growth during the past three quarters has been barely above 1 percent. To make the Obama economy look better than it really is, the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger today found "new-found strength" in a category that is contracting, completely ignored how out-of-control healthcare spending is artificially pumping up with little growth there is, and — as he and most of the establishment press has been doing for the past 7-plus years of Dear Leader's presidency — told us, once again, that prosperity is just around the corner.
The press's reporting on the Obama era's awful economy has been nothing short of abysmal. Looking at the bigger picture on July 25, MRC Business's Julia Seymour named "6 key indicators of (a) weak economy" the press has glossed over or ignored since the recession ended seven years ago. The most obvious item she identified is the fact that the current alleged "recovery" is by far the worst since World War II. On August 2, she noted that the press's pattern of negligence continued, as all of the Big Three broadcast networks' Friday evening newscasts ignored the tepid annualized 1.2 percent second-quarter economic growth the government reported that morning.
Yesterday's news about the economy was the latest in a 7-1/2 year series of mostly regular disappointments. The government reported that nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at an annual rate of just 1.2 percent in the second quarter, half or less of what most alleged "experts" expected. Additionally, the first's quarter's originally reported 1.1 percent growth was revised down to 0.8 percent.
The economy has grown barely 1.2 percent during the past four quarters. So even before yesterday's news, reasons to be impressed with the economy were hard to find. That didn't stop Mark Zandi, who "just so happens" to have contributed the maximum allowable individual amount to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign in 2015, from going way over the top with praise. As reported by the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger shortly before the GDP report's release, Zandi proclaimed that "It is amazing how resilient the U.S. economy has been," and the "The job market is just incredible."
It's a safe prediction that there will be renewed interest in the federal government's perilous financial situation if the country elects someone not named Hillary Clinton as its next president in November.
One reason why this prediction is so safe is how little interest there has been in even covering today's news about Uncle Sam's troubling June surplus of only $6.3 billion. The Associated Press, via Martin Crutsinger, devoted three whole paragraphs to the news during the first two hours after its release before lengthening it with the usual static analysis pablum about the presidential candidates' tax plans. A 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time Google News search on "deficit," which encouraged users to "Explore in Depth (9 more articles)," returned only three additional items when I followed that suggestion.
Today's stories at the business wires covering this morning's disastrous durable goods report from the Census Bureau ranged from good to absolutely horrid. March orders only increased by a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent, less than half of the 1.7 percent to 2.0 percent increase that was expected. Additionally, February's originally reported decline of 2.8 percent was revised down to -3.1 percent.
Victoria Stilwell's dispatch at Bloomberg News earned a B-minus. Lucia Mutikani's writeup at Reuters rated a C-minus. As usual, the coverage at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, delivered by Martin Crutsinger, the nation's unofficial "Worst Economics Writer," brought up the rear and earned an "F."
The government reported this morning that seasonally adjusted March housing starts and building permits fell by 8.8 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively, far worse declines than analysts and economists predicted.
After the report, the business wires at least communicated the facts accurately, but continued to insist almost to the point of editorializing that there's no reason to be worried about the long-term direction of housing market or the overall economy.
For the past month, the conventional wisdom about the U.S. economy has been that consumer spending and "(not really) robust" job growth will continue to prop up the economy, even as weaknesses in manufacturing, trade and other areas continue to present problems. President Obama bragged in early March that the economy is "pretty darned good now."
Today, the first of those two pillars got pulled. The countless press reports during the past 4-1/2 weeks which reassured readers that consumer spending started off the year strong — conveniently during the peak presidential primary season — are now rubbish. Today, we learned that January's originally reported 0.5 percent spike, revised down to 0.1 percent, was almost entirely fictional, and that February was also weak. Despite the disappointing news, most press reports found some "expert" who, with little genuine basis, expects a rebound.
The government's Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that consumer prices fell 0.2 percent in February.
Lower prices should be good news, right? Wrong, at least according to Martin Crutsinger at the Associated Press. Crutsinger's Wednesday dispatch also managed to ignore the fact that even the supposedly low inflation seen during the past 12 months has eaten up most of workers' very nominal pay increases, even though the BLS's Real Earnings news release came out at the same time as the Consumer Price Index. This is yet more evidence that the so-called "recovery" we were promised years ago still hasn't fully happened, and that the current situation is on the verge of getting worse, and not better.
Actual sales at the wholesale level in January, as reported today by the Census Bureau, fell sharply from December. That's to be expected. But this time was different — really different, because the drop was to a level lower than January 2012, i.e., four years ago.
Four press outlets which covered today's release either missed (or ignored) this shocking news. They only told readers about what happened with the seasonally adjusted data — which, while still pretty dismal, didn't look quite as awful.
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?