Even though the U.S. economy grew at a 2.9 percent pace in the final quarter of 2017, some in the liberal press have already begun to anticipate a recession — at the worst, possible time for President Donald Trump.
The Associated Press's Paul Wiseman has apparently tired of good economic news. Saturday, the AP reporter painted a frightening picture of what a trade war based on President Donald Trump's planned tariffs on a tiny sliver of U.S. imports might do to the world's economy, mischaracterizing a prominent economist's position to build his case.
In June, when UK voters decided to leave the European Union in the "Brexit" referendum, the U.S. press told the American people that the UK economy would suffer greatly as a result. Moody's economist and max Hillary Clinton contributor Mark Zandi predicted that it would be "going down the rabbit hole." At CBS News, Mellody Hobson said that "they're acting as if a recession is a foregone conclusion."
It's one thing to predict a disaster that doesn't happen. It's quite another to predict bad news and have things turn out pretty darned well, which is thus far what has occurred. You'd never know it from reading U.S.-based establishment press coverage, but the UK economy, as reported in the UK Times, "ended last year as the strongest of the world’s advanced economies with growth accelerating in the six months after the Brexit vote."
The Associated Press's coverage of the U.S. economy is undergoing its own presidential transition. One might expect a bit of chaos as the AP moves from frequently and inordinately praising and defending the historically awful economy we've seen during the past eight years under a Democratic administration to eventually downplaying and bashing it at every opportunity once a Republican takes over. The best example of that chaos is found in its claim (with "expert" help, of course) that the economy grew as fast as it realistically could during the Obama administration, while unwisely laying down an unmistakable marker that it can't and therefore won't grow any faster during Donald Trump's presidency.
If you believe the Obama administration, the Hillary Clinton campaign and their apparatchiks in the press — and as we've learned during the past several weeks, all three work assiduously to sing from the same hymnal — the economy we've seen during the presidency of Barack Obama has been one of slow but still acceptable recovery and (yes, this word has been frequently used) "durable" expansion.
After 52 percent of voters in Great Britain cast their ballots in favor of leaving the European Union on June 23, financial commentators around the world, particularly in the U.S., predicted ugly economic tidings for the UK.
People who swallowed the gloom and doom whole must have been especially surprised early Friday morning when Bloomberg News published a piece headlined "Pro-Leave Economists Can Smell Vindication." Keeping hope for bad news alive, the caption underneath the piece's accompanying video reads, "Brexit Effect Missing So Far From U.K. Economic Data." Sorry, guys, it isn't just that bad news is missing. It's that the news out of the UK has been very good — "unexpectedly," of course.
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."
CBS broadcasts discussing the Brexit Leave vote on Sunday and Monday went to economic "experts" whose "analysis" betrayed partisanship and both feigned and real ignorance. On Sunday on Face the Nation, max 2015 Hillary contributor (as usual, not disclosed to viewers) Mark Zandi of Moody's Analytics predicted that that the UK economy "is going down the rabbit hole" as the result of the Leave victory, and that the European union, based on being "bigger," is in better shape to hand the fallout. This defies 40 years of history — both two decades before and two decades after the EU formed a single market in 1993 — during which the British economy has significantly outperformed its continental brethren. Then on Monday's CBS This Morning show, Obama bundler Mellody Hobson absurdly told viewers that the EU is like "the United States of Europe which came into being after World War II."
Longtime readers know that if the current stagnating economy were occurring during a Republican or conservative presidential administration, the press would be searching high and low to find a "respected" economist or analyst forecasting the beginning of an economic contraction while screaming that a recession is just around the corner. Instead, the business press has stuck to saying that "most economists" are predicting a first-quarter economic growth result of under an annualized 1 percent.
Well, on Friday, a major firm released the first official projection of contraction I've seen — and yes, the press has failed to notice it. But it's understandable, because the circumstances make one wonder if the firm involved and its chief economist aren't trying to keep the result as invisible as possible in hopes that the current figure can soon be revised upward.
The Associated Press, the nation's de facto business news gatekeeper for those who don't follow the economy or the markets closely, is telling America that the U.S. job market is fine, and ignoring the dismal results seen in weekly pay during the past several months.
Christopher Rugaber's Friday evening coverage of the government's jobs report earlier in the day described the reported 215,000 in seasonally adjusted payroll job additions as "last month's healthy hiring." Paul Wiseman, in a separate dispatch dealing with downbeat news in the University of Michigan's consumer confidence survey, which had the worst reading in five months, insisted that "the job market is healthy." Well, more people are working, but even with their slightly larger numbers, they're collectively working fewer hours and earning less total pay than they were two months ago.
Mark Zandi, Moody's chief economist, comments monthly on the ADP private-sector employment report his firm compiles. He is "often quoted in national and global publications and interviewed by major news media outlets, and is a frequent guest on CNBC, NPR, Meet the Press, CNN, and various other national networks and news programs."
Zandi has also been the economy's head cheerleader during much of the era of the historically weak Obama "recovery." During the past few months, Zandi has openly questioned the validity of the government's estimates of economic growth, believing that they are materially understated. Though I have argued that the official unemployment rate is not credible, Zandi does not have a problem with Uncle Sam's usually decent jobs reports. In fact, they are his main form of "proof," despite badly lagging productivity, that the government is understating gross domestic product (GDP) growth. His persistence on this issue led me to do some research.
Preparing the battlespace for tomorrow's report from the government on third-quarter Gross Domestic Product growth, the Associated Press's Martin Crutsinger early this afternoon told readers that we're likely to see "a subpar pace by any standard."
But we shouldn't worry, because the AP reporter contends that tomorrow's news will just be a temporary trough in this year's "dizzying roller coaster ride," and that the fourth quarter will once again bring the economy up to acceptable heights. To make his claim, Crutsinger naturally ignored myriad warning signs that a serious slowdown may be on the horizon. A decade ago, he was hyping other far less serious factors as evidence that the economy would be lucky to avoid a recession.