July 6, 2014

AP: ‘Humming’ and ‘Rising’ U.S. Economy Is a ‘World-Beater’

In the latest White House press release disguised as analysis at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, AP stenographer Paul Wiseman sang the praises of this nation’s “humming” job market and its “steadily rising” growth as the economy is “finally showing the vigor that Americans have long awaited.” Wow.

Of course, the White House — er, Wiseman — never mentioned the following (to name just a few): two straight months (April and May) of real declines in consumer purchases; the seasonally adjusted decline of 523,000 in full-time employment paired with an increase of 799,000 part-time jobs in June; April’s and May’s trade imbalance coming in worse than March’s, which was already very high; shipments of durable goods barely budging in April and May; factory orders falling in May; or May’s flat construction spending. It got worse, as Wiseman concocted five reasons why the U.S. economy is a “world beater.” Excerpts from Paul’s pathetic prose follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

WHAT’S MAKING US ECONOMY A WORLD BEATER? 5 FACTORS [1]

How does the U.S. economy do it?

Europe is floundering. China faces slower growth. Japan is struggling to sustain tentative gains.

Yet the U.S. job market is humming, and the pace of economic growth is steadily rising. Five full years after a devastating recession officially ended [2], the economy is finally showing the vigor that Americans have long awaited.

Last month, employers added 288,000 jobs and helped reduce the unemployment rate to 6.1 percent, the lowest since September 2008. June capped a five-month stretch of 200,000-plus job gains – the first in nearly 15 years. [3] After having shrunk at a 2.9 percent annual rate from January through March – largely because of a brutal winter [4] – the U.S. economy is expected to grow at a healthy 3 percent pace the rest of the year. [5]

Here are five reasons the United States is outpacing other major economies:

AN AGGRESSIVE CENTRAL BANK [6]

… STRONGER BANKS

… A MORE FLEXIBLE ECONOMY

LESS BUDGET-CUTTING [7]

A ROARING STOCK MARKET [8]

… Higher stock prices would then make Americans feel more confident and more willing to spend – the so-called wealth effect. [8]

Most economists agree it’s worked.

Notes:

[1] — To be clear, it may very well be that the U.S. economy is beating much, most, or even all of the world right now. But if that’s so, it basically because our performance is less awful, not because our economy is in any way “humming” along.

[2] — Of course, Wiseman made no attempt to explore why it has taken almost five years for something this supposed “vigor” to show up — assuming it has, which is a brave statement to make after a quarter of 2.9 percent annualized contraction.

[3] — You want five-month stretches of 200K-plus job gains? Let’s look at 1982-1989, shall we?

JobGrowth1982to1989

I see the following equivalent 140K-plus streaks in an economy with a workforce which was about 30 percent smaller:

  • March – July 1983 — 5 months
  • September 1983 – January 1985 — 17 months
  • March 1985 – January 1986 — 11 months
  • September 1986 – December 1987 — 16 months
  • February 1988 – July 1988 — 6 months
  • September 1988 – April 1989 — 8 months

Oh, and we can’t forget September 1984, when the economy added 1.114 seasonally adjusted jobs in one month.

The current economy’s five-month streak is nice, but it’s got quite a ways to go before it’s historically impressive — and the the American people didn’t have to wait until almost five years after the recession ended in the early 1980s to see spectacular job growth take place.

[4] — Concerning the “brutal winter” copout as supposedly “largely” explaining the first-quarter contraction, I’ll repeat what I’ve written before, because it’s apparently necessary:

The weather excuse is beyond pathetic. If it was the reason for April’s original disappointing estimate of 0.1 percent growth, something else has to explain why the second estimate went to a 1.0 percent contraction. It’s a complete insult to news consumers that these clowns are pretending that the weather had any relevance whatsoever to June’s disastrous final number. As I have noted several times elsewhere, all but one of the economy’s other winter contractions in the past 50 years occurred partially or entirely during officially declared recessions. The sole exception was 2011′s first quarter, during President Barack Obama’s reign. Besides, this past winter, as “the 34th coldest such period for the contiguous 48 states as a whole since modern records began in 1895,” didn’t even make the top quartile of cold snaps.

[5] — The belief that growth during the final three quarters will average 3 percent is far from universally shared. Contrarians like Richard Yamarone believe that the second quarter will still show a contraction, after which 3 percent full-year growth would be nearly impossible. Late last week, JP Morgan Chase lowered its full-year growth estimate to 1.4 percent. Its estimate for the final three quarters was a shade under 3 percent. Just give it a few weeks.

[6] — The conventional wisdom is that five years of “Quantitative Easing” was a briliiant move by the Fed’s Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen. I guess that’s why it’s largely influenced an economic recovery which is far worse than any seen since World War II — one barely better than what occurred during the 1930s.

[7] — The “logic” here is that U.S. deficits have fueled economic growth while those dummies in Europe and elsewhere have “cut” government spending excessively. First, there are probably very few real “cuts.” Second, Wiseman’s wacky premise doesn’t explain why Germany’s supposedly excessive “austerity” has led it to outperform most of if not all of the rest of the EU.

[8] — It’s inarguable that this supposedly wonderful “wealth effect” has exacerbated the “inequality” against which President Barack Obama has been wailing. Of course, Wiseman didn’t note the obvious contradiction.

The mystery here may be why Wiseman’s byline is on this “analysis.” It might as well have been from new White House Press Spokesmouth Josh Earnest.

If the U.S. economy under a Republlican or conservative president was a genuine “world-beater,” the same people who think it’s so wonderful now would be telling us why it’s so unfair and oppressive.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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