President Bush is holding a press conference on the U.S. economy. I'll be blogging the questions to the president below.
My bottom line analysis (11:25): The two R's of bias from this Rose Garden presser: Martha Raddatz on Syria and numerous reporters on the dreaded R-word, recession. Of course a recession is two consecutive quarters of NEGATIVE economic growth, and we've yet to see one quarter of negative growth, much less two. But all the same, NY Times's Stolberg made it sound like Q1 numbers on GDP tomorrow will show a recession.
The questions below will be posted in reverse chronological order:
.... for what I believe is a painfully obvious reason.
It is reports like the one written up by Shobhana Chandra at Bloomberg yesterday on household net worth that make you wonder if everyday US citizens will ever get the information needed to accurately evaluate what's going on in the economy without doing more digging than they have time for -- or that they should even have to do.
Chandra's writeup seemed to deliberately omit any and all context readers could have used to understand the significance of the information presented. She (based on this source, I'm assuming that Chandra is female -- if I'm wrong, please let me know) also sought out an "expert" to support a specious case that the reported results were masking a greater deterioration.
Here's how her report began:
Early last month, when oil prices flirted with inflation-adjusted record highs, fears of sky-high gas prices were filtered through the media.
CNBC's Erin Burnett gave viewers a frightening prediction of $4-a-gallon gasoline during a January 2 appearance on the NBC "Nightly News." The "Street Signs" anchor cited John Kilduff, the vice president of risk management at the MF Global Ltd. Brokerage, as the source of this predicted high watermark for gasoline.
"And John Kilduff, who I know you speak with often, as well, Brian, he says we could see prices at the pump as high as $4 a gallon," Burnett said. "And that could be by the middle of February. So it could be anytime in the next six weeks. So that's going to be an increase, and we've seen it across the board, Brian. Commodity prices are going up, and that is causing worry for stocks."
Worried about finding employment after losing your job because of this gosh-awful recession we're having? Oh, you haven't lost your job yet? Yeah, we aren't actually having a recession yet, but that's just details.
But the show must go on, and so goes the January 23 "CBS Evening News."
"It's a bumpy ride for the American worker as well. As the economy slows the unemployment rate is rising," anchor Katie Couric said. "About 7.6 million Americans are now unemployed. That's a million more than a year ago. So what should you do if you lose your job? [CBS correspondent] Kelly Cobiella looks at some strategies for job seekers for whom this economic downturn is really hitting home."
The headline "The Economy Sucks" might be something you'd expect to see in Rolling Stone or on Slate.com, but certainly not in a reputable news magazine, right?
Yet, the January 21 issue of Newsweek defied expectations by using that for part of a headline for a one-sided, pro-Bill Clinton view of the economy. The article recalled the 1992 "It's the economy, stupid!" campaign as it tore down the current economy.
So, why does the economy "suck" according to Newsweek? It isn't that there's a depression looming or that we're in recessionary times, we're just "perilously close to sliding into a recession."
"Today, the nation is perilously close to sliding into a recession; in '92, the economy had already started growing, though a jobless recovery doomed George H.W. Bush's re-election bid anyway," Gross wrote. "The lesson? Voters' perceptions matter more than whether the economy is technically expanding or contracting."
A lot of journalists have written off the possibility the economy can avert a recession.
However, it isn't conventional wisdom that the economy is heading for a recession outside of the journalism world.
Jack Welch, author of "Winning," appeared on MSNBC's January 14 "Morning Joe" to discuss the economy, the presidential race and professional football. Welch told viewers he didn't anticipate a recession.
"No, I don't think we're going to hit recession, but it's going to feel like it," Welch said. "Things are slowing down dramatically, as everyone knows. But I think we'll weather this thing and the global economy will keep us alive. So, we will not have a technical recession, but it will sure as hell feel like one."
This is worse than a case of calling a glass "half-empty" when it is "half-full." This is like taking the glass and pouring it out.
Deirdre Bolton, an anchor for Bloomberg TV, appeared on CBS's January 9 "The Early Show" to report on a survey of economists Bloomberg conducted January 3-8 about whether or not a recession is in the immediate future of the U.S. economy.
"[W]ell, as you said the economy certainly is front and center," Bolton said. "And in fact in the latest survey of Bloomberg economists, economists putting the odds of developing a recession at about 40 percent. Jay Bryson - he's a global economist at Wachovia - he says we are skating on the edge of recession, but it's all going to come down to the consumer. Another economist that we spoke with said that consumers right now are really hanging on by their fingernails. And of course it's not really a surprise."
However, Bolton completely distorted the message of the survey - based on how Bloomberg's Web site reported it. An article by Shobhana Chandra and Alex Tanzi said the U.S. will escape recession, according to the economists in the survey.
Never underestimate the power of the media with a "doom and gloom" agenda - especially when it comes to such a renowned contest like the 18th annual American Dialect Society "Word of the Year" contest.
There are quite a few people already running for president, but one author recently suggested others might jump in: like CNN's own Lou Dobbs.
Oh, how Old Media wants a recession. Too bad the economy isn't cooperating.
The latest Institute for Supply Management (ISM) report on the Manufacturing Sector, covering about 15% of the non-government economy, was just released this morning, and led as follows:
Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in November for the 10th consecutive month, while the overall economy grew for the 73rd consecutive month, say the nation's supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business®.
True, the reading of 50.8% was barely above the 50% cutoff point for expansion. But it's barely lower than the 50.9% turned in last month, and still came in slightly ahead of expectations, which averaged 50.4%, according to the Associated Press, and 50.7%, according to Bloomberg.
This makes three out of three fourth quarter ISM reports showing continued growth -- two in manufacturing, plus October's non-manufacturing report that came in at 55.8%, up from 54.8% in September. If Wednesday's ISM report on non-manufacturing for November comes in at 55.9% or higher, it will means that the economy as a whole, as ISM measures it, is not only growing, but growing faster. Recession, reschmession.
CBS Correspondent Anthony Mason would probably call it the not-so-almighty dollar, and he’d be correct if