The truth about this year’s Thanksgiving and Black Friday store and online sales is out there. It’s just that Christopher Rugaber at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, wasn’t interested in clearly revealing all of it.
Instead, the AP economics writer told readers about the dollar amount of this year’s and last year’s Thursday and Friday store sales, but failed to quantify the increase in online sales. People who don’t follow the economy closely likely don’t know that an increase in online sales is quite unlikely to offset a decrease in brick-and-mortar store sales. The way Rugaber wrote up his piece ensured that news of the economy’s continued malaise will remain elusive for low-information news consumers and, ultimately, low-information voters.
On Wednesday, the Associated Press’s Josh Boak added to the wire service’s collection of weak “Getaway Day” business journalism by declaring that new-home sales “recovered in October.”
No they didn’t. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of 495,000 units reported by the Census Bureau was the fourth-lowest monthly level seen this year, even well below the 521,000 and 545,000 reported in the supposedly unprecedentedly awful winter months of January and February, respectively. Boak also claimed that “Americans recovered much of their appetite for owning new homes this year,” even though current levels are at best about 70 percent of what one would expect in a pre-”new normal” healthy market.
Twenty years of average economic growth of less than 1 percent have failed to convince Japan’s leaders — and apparently its citizens — that Keynesian-style government spending and handouts are not the answer to turning that long-suffering nation’s economy around.
So the Shinzo Abe government, fresh from learning that the country is in yet another recession — its fifth since 2008 — is doing more of the same, while counting on press shills around the world like the Associated Press’s Elaine Kurtenbach to be gentle in their coverage. Kurtenbach cooperated as expected early Friday morning (bolds and numbered tags are mine):
Ever since the White House changed hands almost seven years ago, press reports on the U.S. economy have annoyingly overaccentuated whatever positives reporters might find (or think they have found), while ignoring glaring negatives and omitting key items.
One example of such biased reporting came from the Associated Press’s Martin Crutsinger on Wednesday. In covering the Census Bureau’s October Durable Goods report, Crutsinger praised its one-month seasonally adjusted increases in new orders and shipments. While that news was welcome, the AP reporter ignored the ugly fact that October’s actual (i.e., not seasonally adjusted) year-over-year figure was lower than October 2014, marking the seventh straight month of year-over-year declines. He also didn’t address shipments, which have been flat compared to to the same month last year for the past four months, at all.
Economic news on Wednesday’s pre-Thanksgiving “Getaway Day” was largely dismal. The government’s report on October’s personal income and outlays headed up the disappointing news. While incomes increased nicely — at a rate which needs to be repeated about two dozen more times before it can be seen as genuinely impressive — spending only rose by 0.1 percent, and prior months were revised significantly downward.
Perhaps because they were all in a pre-holiday hurry, the headline writers at the Associated Press and AP economics writer Martin Crutsinger had fundamentally different takes on the news. Additionally, Crutsinger was apparently in such a rush that he didn’t worry about the fact that his first two paragraphs’ characterizations of the result disagreed. Finally, the AP reporter failed to note that total consumer spending in October was lower than what was originally reported in September after the previously mentioned downard revisions.
As we head into the Christmas shopping season, yours truly regrets to inform readers that the relative frequency of late-November media mentions of the “Christmas shopping season” is at the lowest level in all of the years I have been tracking it — probably meaning that it’s at an all-time low, period.
This is Year 11 of an effort which began in 2005. Each year has involved Google News searches on “Christmas shopping season” and “holiday shopping season” (both terms in quotes). In the past few years, after Google News merged its archive with its regular one-month news results, I’ve made sure to only search on the past month. As seen in the graph which follows, this year’s result is down to one “Christmas” mention for every 16.5 “holiday” mentions:
Background behind these annual searches is here and here.
Here are the results of this year’s first round of searches:
Here goes (for the past month):
That is the lowest “Christmas” component ever in 11 years of such searches, coming in below last year’s. The lowest-ever result for a full Christmas season (three searches) was 8.5% in 2012. The press seems determined to separate “shopping” from the reason for the season.
Now on to the second set of searches (for the past month):
- Christmas layoffs (not in quotes, also excluding the word “challenger” to ensure that about 30 items relating to the mass layoffs report issued by Challenger & Christmas were exluded) — 6,880 (22.5%)
- Holiday layoffs (not in quotes) — 17,300 (56.6%)
- Holidays layoffs (not in quotes) — 6,370 (20.9%)
As has been the case in previous years, the press is far more likely to use “Christmas” in connection with layoffs (4 times as likely in the most recent set — 27.5% vs. 7%), an obviously negative thing, than it is to use “Christmas” in connection with shopping and commerce, a generally positive or neutral thing.
Additional searches will take place in roughly two and four weeks.
There are plenty of problems with the government’s “no-fly list,” and especially the plans by some congressmen and senators to abuse it. That said, it appears, almost three years later, to have gotten one name right.
In late 2012 and early 2013, leftists like Chris Hayes at MSNBC, Glenn Greenwald and Kevin Drum at Mother Jones were upset that Saadiq Long, a U.S. Air Force veteran who was living in Qatar, had been put on the no-fly list. After making a stink, Long’s name was apparently removed so he could fly into Oklahoma to see his ailing mother, only to see his no-fly listing reinstated so he couldn’t leave. He returned to Qatar, but only after taking a bus down to Mexico City and flying from there. End of story? Hardly, as PJ Media’s Patrick Poole reports:
Call it the triumph of the “new normal.”
At Reuters today, after today’s first revision of third-quarter gross domestic product showed that the economy grew by an annualized 2.1 percent, up from the late-October estimate of 1.5 percent, reporter Lucia Mutikani and Editor Paul Simao demonstrated that they have completely given in to the artificially lowered expectations of past seven miserable years. Despite the fact that annual growth in the U.S. economy averaged 3.4 percent from 1946-2007 — a period which included ten recessions — and that it has seen four-year spurts averaging over 4 percent several times in the past three decades, the Reuters pair claims that its “long-run potential” is now only 2 percent, thus making today’s 2.1 percent result “respectable.”
There was yet another sighting of the U-word (“unexpectedly”) in connection with disappointing economic news today.
Bloomberg News, which most frequently employs the word, told readers that “Consumer confidence unexpectedly declined in November to the lowest level in more than a year as Americans grew less enthusiastic about the labor-market outlook.” Expectations were that confidence would increase from October’s value of 99.1 to between 99.6 and 101.0, not drop like a rock in just one month by almost 9 percent to 90.4. Over at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, economics writer Josh Boak clearly wanted his readers to believe that the news was a one-off “curveball” in an economy which he contended “has strengthened by many measures over the past month.” All one can say is that he must not be looking at the same economy as the rest of us.
Gosh, this gets tiresome.
Once again, with one noteworthy exception, the business press’s virtually blind acceptance of seasonally adjusted economic data, and its accompanying refusal to look at the underlying raw data, led it to paint a deceptive picture of an important element of the economy. This time, it was existing home sales for October. The seasonally adjusted annual rate for October reported by the National Association of Realtors this morning is almost 4 percent higher than seen in October 2014. The trouble is, the raw sales data show an increase of less than 1 percent.
Time Warner Cable is trying to be in the news business, and is currently engaging in such efforts in 22 locations in five states.
Unless it wants to be yet another unreliable, hopelessly biased news source, it needs to try harder. Take this November 14 report from north-central North Carolina’s Triad area on the city of Greensboro’s effort to get residents to turn in unwanted guns. Keep in mind, the reference is to multiple “firearms” (HT Hot Air; presented in full because of its brevity, and for fair use and discussion purposes):
In the wake of the Paris terrorist murder spress, a media narrative that the U.S. is somehow less vulnerable to terrorist attacks than countries in Europe has arisen.
The reasons given would be uproariously funny if the stakes weren’t so serious: “Geography and strict travel restrictions.” Additionally, according to the report where the meme appears to have originated, there is “one measure” which makes the U.S. “arguably” more vulnerable: guns.
The press’s reluctance to relay Obamacare-related bad news has been obvious for years. Nowhere is this more consistently the case than at the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press.
Over half of the state non-profit co-ops set up under Obamacare with $2 billion-plus in taxayer funding are failing. The AP has generally treated those failures as local stories, even though they relate to the Affordable Care Act, the passage of which they still call President Barack Obama’s “signature domestic achievement.” Most of the other co-ops are either incurring huge losses, becoming undercapitalized, or both. So watch, in context, how AP business writer Tom Murphy, in a dispatch primarily about UnitedHealth Group’s announcement that “it is pulling back from its push into the Affordable Care Act’s public insurance exchanges”:
Add the what follows to the long list of items we should be reading about in wire service reports but instead must find in the editorial sections of the nation’s two leading business newspapers.
An Islamist organization tied to the Muslim Brotherhood is involved in the screening potential Syrian refugees allegedly receive before being allowed to come to the United States. Investor’s Business Daily revealed this information, which is in stark contrast what U.S. government officials are telling the nation, in a Tuesday evening editorial (bolds are mine):