April 27 2012

Oh, What A Lovely Economy! NOT

Charlotte Hays

More “unexpected” bad news on the economic front: the GDP has slowed to 2.2 percent and jobless claims “hover near 3-month high.”

The mainstream media used to be surprised every time awful economic statistics generated by the Obama administration came out. Now they are in denial. The message: Sure,these numbers don't look great to the uninitiatted, but, if you know how to read them...

The Washington Post Wonkblog, for example, allows as how the numbers are “disconcerting.” Not to worry:

Yet some economists are already cautioning us not to read too much into these numbers. The GDP figures are, after all, just a first-pass estimate — and they’ll be revised later on. “Given the noise in the advance GDP estimate,” says Justin Wolfers, “a number 0.3% below consensus isn’t really at odds with either bullish or bearish sentiment.”

Sure.

Meanwhile, Geoffrey Norman over at the Weekly Standard highlights some choice words and phrases from a chirpy Reuters story on the bad economic numbers:

stronger demand for automobiles ...

surge in consumer spending ...

somewhat better picture of growth ...

Consumer spending which accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity, increased at a 2.9 percent rate - the fastest pace since the fourth quarter of 2010.

Americans stepped up spending on automobiles ...

Inventories also helped GDP growth ...

Norman's headline: "The Economy Is Still Bad"

George H. W. Bush was defeated in his bid for re-election, even though the economy was improving towards the end of his term.

I was in New York toiling for the trendy (but excellent) New York Observer at the time. Shortly after the election (it was at an office Thanksgiving party) a headline in one of the New York Dailies, suddenly able to fact the fact of an improving economy, seemed to credit Bill Clinton, then merely the president-elect, with the turnaround. I commented on the unfairness of this.

“But why do you think it’s getting better?” an Observer colleague asked in perfect innocence. She really believed that the election of Clinton less than a month earlier was responsible for the change. This year we may very well see a reverse of that phenomenon: breathlessly reported details indicating that the economy is chugging upwards, scattered about stories in which actual news being reported is rather glum.

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