Pervasive Pollyannas of Prosperity

David Leonhardt discusses a few items today which are regular discussion points here at TBP. My favorite lately is why the public is so much gloomier than the pundits:

“Pundits have been scratching their heads about why the public mood is so grim. Last week, Barron’s called the drop in consumer confidence “difficult to figure.” A front-page headline in The Washington Post claimed, “We’re Gloomier Than the Economy.”

But are we really?

For the first time on record, an economic expansion seems to have just ended without most families having received a raise. For the first time on record, the typical home price nationwide is falling. The inflation-adjusted value of the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index has dropped 20 percent in the last year — and 30 percent since its peak in 2000.

I think the public has called this issue exactly right: the American economy has some real problems. Even if this summer’s downturn turns out to be mild, those problems aren’t mild — or simple — and they aren’t going away anytime soon. It’s going to take some real work.”

That’s spot on.

Want some more evidence? In light of tomorrow’s NFP data, consider the chart below: Its an updated version of a chart we have shown repeatedly, looking at this cycle’s employment gains compared to prior, post WWII, business cycles:

>

nfp_cycles
Chart courtesy of Spencer England Economic Research (SEER)

>

We have heard longstanding charges of liberal media bias, going all the way back to Spiro Agnew’s Nattering Nabobs of Negativism (September 11, 1970). Whatever validity that Trojan horse might have ever had has now
jumped the shark. Mass Media is owned by large corporate interests
(Disney, Viacom, News Corp, Time Warner, etc.). If anything, the disconnect between reality and the “Pervasive Pollyannas of Prosperity” has rendered moot William Safire’s catchphrase.

Indeed, the bias is precisely the other way — between reality and ideological absurdity.

Its the Lite Beer marketing syndrome: If your product is pisswater, and fattening to boot, you never admit that in your advertising. Instead, you frame the debate as whether it “tastes great or is less filling.” Its jiu jitsu marketing, turning your liability into an advantage. The misdirection is often effective.

How absurd has the Panglossian cheerleading become? On my pal Larry Kudlow’s show last night, several of Candide’s descendants talked about how great stocks are if you hold them for 30 years. That’s right, the holding period for equities according to this crowd is three decades. Of course, this means every pullback is a buying opportunity. Words such as these can only be spoken by someone who has never worked on a trading desk or managed assets professionally — or if they did, they lost most of their clients’ money.

Rather than address why the public is so unhappy, the triple Ps toss charges of bias. Ignore the worst monthly Auto Sales since 1992, ignore the latest signs of consumer distress (Starbucks closing 500 stores).  And when that stops working, PPP starts discussing the long run, ignoring the trading wisdom of Keynes. Its yet more evidence of the pollution of economics with partisan politics. Fortunately for most of the Pervasive Pollyannas of Prosperity, they don’t have to live off their market calls. Those who invest based on their “Never say recession” worldview best have another source of income. Fortunately, most of the public isn’t so easily misled.

~~~

As noted earlier, we are overdue for as bounce today. But this short term market noise will not change our long held belief that we are in for a slow-motion slowdown. And merely wishing it were otherwise won’t change the grim reality of the situation.

>



Previously:
Are We Too Gloomy? (June 19, 2008)
http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2008/06/are-we-too-gloo.html

Source:

Dispelling the Myths of Summer

DAVID LEONHARDT
NYT, July 2, 2008
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/02/business/02leonhardt.html

~~~

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What's been said:

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  1. SINGER commented on Jul 2

    DUDE!!!!

    You just killed Luskin…

  2. alex commented on Jul 2

    On Monday 6/30 I heard the guest host on the Hannity radio show telling the audience what a great economy we have and how $4 gas isn’t hurting him!
    If it wasn’t for the stimulist checks, retail and would be worse than it is…and believe me I sell to small retailers…clothes/accessories…and business is punk. Sure it has been “ok” since the checks hit but what about before & after the “free” money.

  3. MarkM commented on Jul 2

    Barry-

    I’ll go long if they can promise me I have 30 years left. Would be a good deal for my two girls even if I ended up with zero. Let me know if there are any takers in that crowd.

  4. tom B commented on Jul 2

    Barry, are there any CREDIBLE people seeing a light at the end of the tunnel? I’m in the Raleigh area, just starting to see my house lose value (I was thinking we were going to dodge that bullet, in our area, because our houses are not so overvalued and we have a net influx of people). I’m soon to be laid off. My dollars in savings are approaching worthless. Will an Obama win (and potential fixing of the Iraq situation) be enough to create growth again?

    BTW: Leonhardt’s article is indeed a good read. I think the US still has the best Institutes of higher learning, by a long shot, but NCLB and housing woes are surely decimating primary and secondary education.

  5. cinefoz commented on Jul 2

    BR glowed:

    As noted earlier, we are overdue for as bounce today. But this short term market noise will not change our long held belief that we are in for a slow-motion slowdown.

    reply: Sorry, it’s going to rain. Earnings might help out a little because it’s a sure bet that most analyst estimates will be beat. The oil ponzis are going to let oil stagnate in price for a few days and maybe let it fall to the high/mid $130 range. This will generate a little market enthusiasm. Then, voila, the ponzis will strike, oil will rise to the high $140 range and kill everything in sight.

    That being said, buying in now and on the dips is like planting seeds for harvest. I’m in 25% and will likely go in after the 4th another 25%. Then I will sell the rise. The best rise will occur when Congress fixes oil. The other will occur periodically for a while if Congress does not fix oil, and will bring in only few percent on the ponzi plays.

    Not fixing oil will not only kill the market, it will disinfect it, toss it in a hefty bag, and send it off to the landfill.

  6. VennData commented on Jul 2

    The PPP (Pervasive Pollyannas of Prosperity) have some clever tricks they’ve learned over time. For example, if you speak negatively, you are the problem: the “campaign” is what’s “hurting” the economy. It couldn’t be the Bush tax cuts since it’s a fact of physics that tax cuts always create prosperity… Remember? deficits don’t matter…

    Once the PPPer’s got the basics, then they grab the heated kettle by the forearms to become the Shaolin monks of confirmation bias.

  7. wally commented on Jul 2

    Good points!
    No raises for the middle class, $4 gas and their #1 retirement hope, houses, dropping for the first time since the great depression. Again, the increasing class split in America is becoming evident: what is disaster for so many people is no problem at all for others.

  8. rex commented on Jul 2

    Bravo, Barry!!

    I think one of the big myths about this downturn is that our problems are cyclical. But as Leonhardt shows (and so do you in that graph on job growth), the problems we have are fundamental, masked to some extent by short-term issues.

    Consumers do get it. Consumer confidence measures never reached the highs of the 1990s in this cycle, even when GDP was rising 7%. Why? Because almost all the benefits went to the very wealthy.

  9. charlie commented on Jul 2

    There are a lot of right wingers who buy every word of it. They believe that there’s only good when a republican is in the white house and any bad news is made up by democrats and liberals out of jealousy.

    I have two brothers who think things are much better than they really are and think everyones votes based on the candidates views regarding abortion and stem cell research. They have a lot of talk radio hosts to back up their claims.

  10. Michael M commented on Jul 2

    The Nikkei is today at 13,286. Should it rise 10% per year going forward then it will reach its 1990 peak of 38,916 around 2019. That’s three decades lost. Of course there has been and will be dividends. But if you inflation adjust we could be talking about four or five decades lost.

    I have never seen so many people look at history and charts for precedence and guidance as we fumble our way into the unknown. The example of Japan, the world’s second largest economy and once the envy of the world, is part of history too.

    Looking for guidance about the future health of a heavy eater/smoker/drinker based on his history of staying alive for decades against all odds is not wise. Looking at what has happened in similar though not identical cases may offer better clues. Using common sense analysis may offer superior clues.

    Common sense tells me this will be slow and painful or quick and near-lethal.

  11. Nihilism commented on Jul 2

    Starbucks adding more stores is a latte news for the stock! Starbucks closing stores is more bucks for the street! How pathetic/irrational markets have become. I will buy the stock when it goes to $8-10 range. Might as well, spend a few bucks on the grande stock.

    When they start paying anaysts and economists — $12 an hour — data-entry pays — they will start seeing the reality much better.

  12. gunthestops commented on Jul 2

    I get a gag reflex every time Don L. opens his mouth on Kudlow!!!!

  13. catman commented on Jul 2

    Congress fix oil? Congress couldnt fix your pet. What is he talking about? What planet pray tell?

  14. Danny commented on Jul 2

    Barry,

    I was hoping that ‘lost most of their clients’ money’ link was to Luskin’s enormous failure. He is a total hack, and I don’t know how the hell he gets ANY facetime on tv anymore. Next time you’re on with him, please remind him that the Great Depression happened within the last 100 years and that his failure was not just attributable to bad luck.

  15. cinefoz commented on Jul 2

    Congress fix oil? Congress couldnt fix your pet. What is he talking about? What planet pray tell?

    Posted by: catman | Jul 2, 2008 9:09:41 AM

    reply: My hope is that the same logic that a thousand million monkeys at typewriters will eventually produce Shakespeare will work in less time than science would predict. Call me an optimist. They claim to be thinking about considering having serious meetings on the subject and have recently talked about it in the past.

  16. larster commented on Jul 2

    How can the publics mood be upbeat while watching the “campaign”. McCain is in Columbia (for some reason known only to him)this week and Obama is discussing his patriotism and home loan. Meanwhile, our airlines are technically bankrupt, our automakers are technically bankrupt, finacial firms are shedding jobs right and left, corn is $7.00 a bushel and gas is over $4. Did I mention an unending war that has cost us 800 billion? If we are not dealiong with these issues the rational person cannot be upbeat and a gradual slowdown will continue ad infiitum.

  17. Douglas Watts commented on Jul 2

    Last week, Barron’s called the drop in consumer confidence “difficult to figure.”

    This sentence speaks volumes.

    My gut is this type of sentiment represents direct evidence that the reporter/writer/publication has their thumb on the butcher’s scale. They are emotionally and financially invested in a bullish economic environment (all sunshine and rainbows); and if their readers and interviewees and data sources all say otherwise then their readers and interviewees and data must, of course, be wrong.

    This is High Dogmatism.

  18. Douglas Watts commented on Jul 2

    Or might I suggest:

    The Doctrine of Bullish Infallibility

  19. Jay commented on Jul 2

    These are good points but I think the dynamic is this: the banks are panicking; Bernanke’s pulling out all the stops to support the impression that they’re solvent. The bond and stock markets are now on a knife’s edge and teetering. The media outlets are entirely controlled by corporate interests. Government reporting agencies, a wholly owned subsidiary of their corporate counterparts, are spitting out curious examples of legerdemain in the form of BLS and CPI statistics that are as credible as the largest ratings agencies’ AAA-rated financial instruments.

    What has brought us here is thirty years of conservative laissez-faire, deregulated, labor-hobbling, consumer-deceiving, creative-accounting, global-trading, CEO wallet-padding, tax-cuts-for-people-who-don’t-need-them-pushing, payroll-cutting, debt-peonage creating, oligarchical corporate-government creating shambles of an economy. It’s killed our greatest asset: the middle class. It’s been every bit as doctrinaire and orthodox and inflexible as Lenin’s economic pronouncements, and what their kindred spirits share is basically a lack of imagination and an incomprehensible blindness in the presence of contradictory information.

    The worthies on Wall Street and in the halls of congress, and the big-haired jibberjabbers on CNBC and other outlets have overseen the slow-motion train wreck for years now. But the middle class is going down, and the middle class is going to take everyone, everyone down with them.

    The reason that they’re bewildered is that they’re towing the company line, as usual, and that they’re insulated by so many layers of jingling adipose tissue that they can’t see how $4/gal is crushing people. Bernanke and Paulson know. They’re scared to death.

    They’re just trying to drag this out until after the election so they can blame someone or something other than their ruinous policies.

  20. John commented on Jul 2

    BR: You hit the nail on the head.

    “Its yet more evidence of the pollution of economics with partisan politics.”

    Let’s not kid ourselves it’s always been there but over the last ten years it seems to have moved into a whole new realm. It’s just another expression of the disconnect from reality that Doctorow was talking about in that piece you linked to yesterday. Twenty years ago in these circumstances politicians and pundits would of course seek to assign blame to the opposing party but there wasn’t usually a lot of debate about the facts of what was actually happening. Now people on the right who can see another wheel coming off the conservative bus (three have gone already:foreign policy, management competence, fiscal prudence) can hardly blame the democrats since they themselves have effectively been in charge for eight years and so they have to deny it’s happening at all. How appropriate that Kudlow a leading conservative economic shill should have has his most frequent guests Luskin who lost millions for his clients and Laffer whose economic theory is not even taken seriously by conservative economists.

  21. tom B commented on Jul 2

    “I think one of the big myths about this downturn is that our problems are cyclical.”

    That’s something I’ve alway puzzled over. How much of the dot com run-up was just baby boomers discovering the stock market for the first time? Is the Dow influenced more by, say, demographics than structural growth?

    As for the US’s long term prospects: It worries me that that we now see high-end jobs (science, engineering) going overseas. I think it’s a fad, not a trend (who wants to live in China, no matter HOW low the cost of living?), but who knows? As a science/engineering type person, though, I gotta say doing something easier like business looks to me like what I should have done. R&D investment is way less attractive to business these days than stock buy-backs and pumping up products with more advertising.

  22. tom B commented on Jul 2

    ” “Its yet more evidence of the pollution of economics with partisan politics.”

    Let’s not kid ourselves it’s always been there but over the last ten years it seems to have moved into a whole new realm. It’s just another expression of the disconnect from reality”

    Reality tends to assert itself. The ice caps ARE melting. Oil supplies ARE diminishing. There’s only so much arable land to support Corn ethanol. Man did not appear in a puff of smoke in the Garden of Eden 6000 years ago. Abstinence-only sex ed does not lead to abstinence. House prices can NOT go up forever in the absence of commensurate wage growth.

  23. TDL commented on Jul 2

    May I suggest a “Centrist media bias”? After all, that is what sells on a national level.

    I have a question, however, and it might just be me misunderstanding the under current of the comments on this and various other threads. At what point, not just in the past 25 years, but in the past century has the U.S. followed a laissez-faire economic policy? Remember rhetoric does not equal policy.

    Regards,
    TDL

  24. Dhukka commented on Jul 2

    A good gauge of how absurd the pollyannas on Kudlow are getting is the hysterical ramblings of Don Luskin. The lower the market goes the more pronounced luskin’s hand gestiulation and caustic sarcasm get. He’s been telling people to buy stocks continually all the way down. Let’s review some of his best quotes of the last 6 months:

    Don Luskin on Kudlow and Co, 12/18/2007, “You’ve just got to be a buyer and you’ve got to buy the stuff where, well you can buy anything right here, they’re giving it all away, there throwing all the babies out, their throwing all the bathwater out.” (S&P500 at the time 1455)

    Don Luskin on Kudlow and Co, 01/11/2008, “Oh my God, you’ve got to be buying stocks here, there is just an absolute panic going on you’ve just got to buy them, this is just total capitulation.” (S&P500 at the time 1401)

    Don Luskin on Kudlow and Co, 01/18/2008 “You now what, look, I admit that I’ve been calling the bottom on this decline all the way down. I freely admit it, I’ve missed this one. You know, I don’t see any fundamental changes. I’m still a bull”. (S&P500 at the time 1325)

    Don Luskin on Kudlow and Co, 03/25/2008, “This bullmarket has been born again, there’s still problems in the macro-economy, but all the worst case risks are off the table, it’s time to go in and buy junk bonds, it’s time to go in and buy leveraged loans, it’s time to go in and buy mortgage backed securities, it’s time to buy financials. All the stuff that got thrown out like babies with the bathwater we’ve been born again, it’s time to take (S&P500 at the time 1353)

    Don Luskin on Kudlow and Co, 04/09/2008, “So, we didn’t have an epic decline we’re not going to have an epic recovery, but the bull market is in-tact I think we’re going to make new highs.” (S&P500 at the time 1354)

    Don Luskin on Kudlow and Co, 5/17/2007, Stocks are only 10% off of all time highs, so everybody just relax. We’ve been in a slowdown we’re gonna be in a nice recovery here, everything is gonna be just fine. (S&P500 at the time 1425)

    Don Luskin on Kudlow and Co, 05/30/2008, “Well March 17th, Bear Stearns Monday was definitely the bottom for stocks, no question about it. (S&P500 at the time 1400)

    Don Luskin on Kudlow and Co, 06/24/2008, “Stocks are so cheap, pessimism is so thick, you don’t even need a knife to cut it you need a flamethrower or a chainsaw you gotta buy em here (S&P500 at the time 1314)

  25. Douglas Watts commented on Jul 2

    If you can’t dazzle ’em with brilliance, baffle ’em with Ben Steinery./i>

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  26. Mark E Hoffer commented on Jul 2

    BR,

    having Trojan horses ‘jump the shark’ can only be accretive…a rare feat these days )

  27. Mark E Hoffer commented on Jul 2

    TDL,

    “At what point, not just in the past 25 years, but in the past century has the U.S. followed a laissez-faire economic policy? Remember rhetoric does not equal policy.”

    Good Q.

    A: Never. (1908-2008)

  28. David commented on Jul 2

    Just because you may or may not agree with the media’s negativism, doesn’t mean it’s not liberally biased politically.

    Again, if you disagree that journalists (90% of whom vote Democrat, contribute to Democrat causes, etc) produce “news” articles that tilt left, you live in some alternative reality world. An especially fascinating one, considering those who deny that, say, the NYTimes has a liberal bias (one that even their ombudsman admitted to), readily accuse the WSJ & Fox, etc of having terminal conservatism.

    The cognitive dissonance of maintaining that the mainstream media is even centrist must cause many headaches.

    ~~~

    BR: Its widely believed that reporters lean left, while their editors lean right, while the owners lean ever further right. I have no info on whether this still holds today.

    But 90%? Do you have a source for your data that number? It seems awfully high . . .

    When I see An extreme number without a data source, I usually assume someone is pulling that number from out there ass — why we’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and patiently await a reliable link.

  29. Anonymouse commented on Jul 2

    Actually, the triumph of irrationality has spread far beyond politics and economics. It’s in science (global warming deniers and evolution deniers), in medicine (the herbal supplement pushers and anti-vaccine crowds) and in military planning (Iraq plannning, Air Force foot dragging on UAVs).

    I am not a classicist, but I have a feeling that the comparisons with Rome are not completely off the mark, i.e., we’ve grown so rich and self-interested that it has become impossible for us to muster the political will to face challenges until they become full blown crises and at that point you’re just rolling the dice.

    I find it very dispiriting.

  30. mickslam commented on Jul 2

    “Again, if you disagree that journalists (90% of whom vote Democrat, contribute to Democrat causes, etc) produce “news” articles that tilt left, you live in some alternative reality world. An especially fascinating one, considering those who deny that, say, the NYTimes has a liberal bias (one that even their ombudsman admitted to), readily accuse the WSJ & Fox, etc of having terminal conservatism.

    The cognitive dissonance of maintaining that the mainstream media is even centrist must cause many headaches.”

    This is so delusional it hurts me.

    I don’t know about you, but in most industries, the boss tells the employees what to do and then reviews the work. Journalism is the same, in that the editors get pitched stories, they decide which stories get written, and what angles are emphasized in the stories.

    It would probably much more useful to look at the political leanings of the editors. So someone did, and it turns out the editors and producers are as conservative as the journalists and on-air talent is liberal.

    On top of that, you must be ignoring the evidence of your own eyes and ears. Have you ever, and I mean ever, watched CNBC? Besides Jared and Barry, and then sometimes Robert R, who else is even slightly liberal there?

  31. Andy Tabbo commented on Jul 2

    Dhukka:

    Spot on with Luskin. Not only is the guy getting crazier, he’s engaging in more ad hominem attacks.

    Last week, he was blasting Gary Shilling for his Long Treasuries call. “Gary…you were WRONG about buying Treasuries…Financials have done better than those lousy Treasuries.”

    It was a ridiculous attack. Shillings basic view is that the market is going lower and that Treasuries are good place to hide. And, his basic view, has been totally correct. And there’s Luskin, just Blasting him. What a douchebag!

    That marked the bottom of the 10 yr bond last week….

    – AT

  32. HCF commented on Jul 2

    My summary:
    Anyone who is ALWAYS a bull is an idiot.
    Anyone who is ALWAYS a bear is an idiot.

    I forgot who it was, but someone on CNBC yesterday brought up trading if you think nuclear war will break out in the MidEast. He was saying you should buy b/c if they start nuking, the trades won’t settle and you’ll be fine (financially), and if they don’t shoot, you make a boatload of money. Now that’s looking on the bright side of life!

  33. VJ commented on Jul 2

    David,

    if you disagree that journalists (90% of whom vote Democrat, contribute to Democrat causes, etc) produce ‘news’ articles that tilt left

    I do.

    Twelve people offered responses to that poll.

    TWELVE.

    You’re making yourself look foolish.
    .

  34. Anonymous commented on Jul 2

    Speaking of PPPs, what the heck is with this 16 year old crybaby on CNBC (Dennis Kneale)? Is he allowed to give investment advice, because all he keeps saying is buy this stock or another, or don’t sell.

  35. cm commented on Jul 2

    Barry: Starbucks will be closing 600 stores. The article that you link to says 500 on top of 100 already announced.

  36. Douglas Watts commented on Jul 2

    Here’s the problem:

    Many people would equate a stories about say … clearcutting the Amazon or mercury poisoning in the Northeast from Midwest coal plants as stories with a “liberal bias” or story selection with a “liberal bias.”

    Under such a skewed paradigm, the definition of bias is itself biased.

    As a lifelong conservationist, I have always wondered how the enforcement of laws that Richard Nixon signed into law (the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act) is now ideologically liberal and news stories about the exact issues which triggered Congress and Tricky Dick to enact these laws is now “partisan.”

    Just wondering.

  37. DL commented on Jul 2

    I think that Kudlow sees virtue in optimism.

    For many aspects of life, this may be true. But not when it comes to investing.

  38. John commented on Jul 2

    There is a front page head line in todays (July 2, 2008) USA TODAY: GAS, FOOD, HEALTH CARE SLIP OUT OF REACH

    The article talks mainly about the elderly and the problems they are having eating.

    But according to the FED’s way of thinking this is only relative price differential and not inflation, so why worry. The thinking goes along the lines that as long as wages aren’t increasing to keep up with the relative price differentials, there is no inflation. The FED believes that this problem is self correcting, eventually people won’t be able to buy food and the price will come down.

  39. John commented on Jul 2

    Anonymouse:
    You’re right irrationality has been on the rise again but there’s nothing new about it in US society. Whenever rolling my eyes over the latest example I remind myself of some notable cases from the past:
    *In the greatest electoral landslide in US history Alf Landon still got 37% of the vote
    *We fought the second world against the most racist regime in history with a segregated army
    *Despite the nostalgia and romanticism surrounding the confederacy they were essentially fighting to preserve a monstrous evil.
    *Despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary LBJ still claimed we were winning in Vietnam
    *Leveragings of 30x plus are no longer considered unreasonable at respectable financial institutions.

    Need I go on.

  40. Tim commented on Jul 2

    Pervasive Pollyannas of Prosperity
    (I love it!)
    meet
    Nattering Nabobs of Negativism
    (with apologies to Spiro Agnew.)

  41. tom B commented on Jul 2

    “Actually, the triumph of irrationality has spread far beyond politics and economics. It’s in science (global warming deniers and evolution deniers), in medicine (the herbal supplement pushers and anti-vaccine crowds) and in military planning (Iraq plannning, Air Force foot dragging on UAVs).”

    The crackpots have always been out there, but now they blog. I bet eve Osama Bin Laden (if he’s still alive) has a blog.

    “As a lifelong conservationist, I have always wondered how the enforcement of laws that Richard Nixon signed into law (the Clean Water Act, …the National Environmental Policy Act) is now ideologically liberal”

    Tricky Dick looks better and better, post mortem. He was a crook, but at least he was a reality-based crook. The current crop more closely resemble the Spanish Inquisition.”Ah, he MUST be a terrorist because he said so after we held his head under the water 50 times.”

    Don’t say it– I know the Python quote.

  42. Chinook commented on Jul 2

    One of the best posts I’ve read in years that puts into words what I’ve seen, heard, read, and felt about the financial media versus reality. We’ll soon hear from that same crowd that with a 6% unemployment rate, that means “94% of the people are working!” As if working at low-pay all the time service jobs can support a family.

  43. bluestatedon commented on Jul 2

    BR, thanks for pointing out the most salient fact in all this: the corporate ownership of the mass media. This directs the slant of the coverage to the right-leaning status-quo for one reason: money. The overwhelming focus of the top management at these corporations is naturally financial, and most especially as regards the personal fortunes of senior management and large shareholders. And this in turn requires a favorable tax and regulatory environment for them, and for their major advertisers. The reason these corporations are petrified at the notion of an Obama Presidency in combination with a Democratic Congress is that they suspect — with good reason — that the tax and regulatory policies that have been so favorable to them over the past 8 years will be changed, and not in their favor. Political ideology is only important insofar as it supports their financial goals; if the Democrats and Republicans swapped tax and regulatory philosophies overnight, Fox News would become Obama’s biggest cheerleader.

    All of this is why lonely individuals decades ago warned against consolidation of the media. Eventually their warnings were disregarded as a quaint remnant of an earlier age, and things came to pass exactly in the manner that the warnings foretold. Fox News is the archetype of the new media class, and as such is functionally indistinguishable from Izvestia, Tass, and Pravda, the old propaganda organs of the Soviet Union, whose Russian versions of Brit Hume and Larry Kudlow relentlessly pushed the notion that communism was always and everywhere ascendant, the shelves at the GUM department store were always full, and that millions of impoverished westerners were yearning to join socialism’s gleaming promise.

  44. patfla commented on Jul 2

    Tim, you beat me to the punch.

    But I’ll go you one better. I think the apologies are most correctly directed to (of all people) Pat Buchanan since he was one of the main speechwriters for Nixon-Agnew and I believe it was he (Buchanan) who penned the immortal NNN.

    Wait a minute (one should always check one’s facts), it may be even better. It seems the other Nixon-Agnew speechwriter mentioned on Wikipedia’s page for Spiro Agnew was no less than William Safire. Who now (I believe) purports to instruct us collectively on the use of the English language.

    And it was apparently Safire – not Buchanan – who penned NNN.

  45. tom B commented on Jul 2

    Even Pat Buchanan is an “elder statesman” compared to the putzes in the W administration. At least Buchanan is an “America First” kind of guy, with regards to trade deals and such.

  46. Andy Tabbo commented on Jul 2

    In re: Dennis Neale. Someone raised a good point about him recommending stocks. I really think CNBC needs to remove him. He adds ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to any debate. He tells you to buy stocks that keep going down. When he finally capitulated on Goog, the stock roared.

    He is excruciatingly annoying. He is just so wrong. “Hey folks, if you haven’t sold your stocks yet, then you haven’t lost anything.!”

    CNBC needs to run a disclaimer everytime he speaks similar to what they run for Cramer but says:

    “Just a reminder, the recommendations of Dennis Neale are not based on any ability to trade or make money by investing. Dennis has an extremely poor track record in picking stocks and predicting market moves. In fact, following his advice will certainly result in significant losses to your portfolio.”

    – AT

  47. Mark E Hoffer commented on Jul 2

    Posted by: bluestatedon | Jul 2, 2008 1:48:24 PM

    it goes all the way to: http://www.conservativeusa.org/10planksofcommunism.htm

    and, as far back as:
    http://www.wepin.com/articles/afp/afp01.html
    for starters, and further:
    http://www.wepin.com/articles/afp/index.htm

    the old boys, our Founding Fathers, were right, correct, from the very beginning.

    I really wonder how many of us will even remember Patrick Henry this, coming, Friday.

    as in: “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government — lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”

    or: “Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel.”
    http://www.quotedb.com/authors/patrick-henry

  48. bluestatedon commented on Jul 2

    “it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government”

    … as King George busily pens another “signing statement” declaring his intention to ignore portions of a law duly passed by Congress, bypassing the constitutional step of actually vetoing it.

    Meanwhile, Secret Service agents keep demonstrators penned up in assigned “protest areas” far from the King’s parade route.

  49. Mark E Hoffer commented on Jul 2

    Posted by: bluestatedon | Jul 2, 2008 4:33:25 PM

    I thought you’d see that, too, it’s half the reason why I bothered.

    And, another, appropos of your comment:
    “”The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.” –Patrick Henry

  50. David commented on Jul 2

    http://www.journalism.org/node/2304

    A survey of 1149 journalists indicate they are much more likely to describe themselves as “leaning leftward.”

    Of course…those “moderate” journalists’ definitions of “moderate” were really to the left of the general public’s, i.e. more than twice as likely to support gun control and abortion. Therefore, it wouldn’t be surprising that a much larger proportion of them would vote Democrat, in keeping in line with their actual political beliefs, despite their self-identification as “moderate.”

    It wasn’t 12, btw, a MSNBC survey of ACTUAL donations reported to the FEC, revealed that of 143 reporters identified, 125 donated to Democrats.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19113485

    Would you agree that if 90% of donations were to Democrats, that these reporters probably weren’t voting Republican?

    Again, if you can’t see the general leftward bias of most media outlets, you really are not part of the “reality” I’m inhabiting. For heaven’s sake, just look at party ID when a scandal’s reported:

    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/rich-noyes/2008/03/13/while-no-d-eliot-spitzer-vitter-craig-always-tagged-gop

    The journalists who write stories for papers trend to the left. Period. Now whether you think they’re too optimistic on this economy is not because they’re too far right; it’s demonstrated that they aren’t. The reason they might be too optimistic is because they just might be wrong.

  51. David commented on Jul 2

    It’s also amusing, while y’all ASSERT that “corporate ownership” etc of the media produce rightward bias, I see no links, data sources, etc from you to support it. I come up with data from MSNBC’s own trolling of the FEC–so will you believe that or your lying eyes?

  52. Dhukka commented on Jul 2

    Yeah Andy I caught that desperate attack on Gary Shilling by Luskin last week. That kind of behaviour is a classic sign that that he is cracking up. Unfortunately he won’t be on Kudlow tonight but Dennis Kneale will be.

    Someone mentioned earlier that Kneale is like a 16 year old kid, I think that’s being generous, he’s more like a 4 year-old and no doubt tonight he’ll be throwing a tantrum.

  53. rj commented on Jul 2

    “The Price of Independence.
    By Peter M. De Lorenzo

    Detroit. This country is at a crossroads. We are now faced with a burgeoning national crisis that is challenging virtually every aspect of the American way of life as we know it, including the ability to own a home, the opportunity to have a job and even one of the fundamental freedoms that we have longed enjoyed in this vast nation – the freedom of mobility.

    That the domestic automobile industry has been a bellwether of this country’s looming national crisis is no secret, at least not to the learned people who understand the key role that our auto industry plays for this nation’s economic health as a whole. Detroit first faced the reality of the global economy and what it really means long before the rest of the country had to give it even a second thought.

    As the economies of China, India and Russia have emerged, the demand for the world’s resources has pushed prices through the stratosphere. Everything that goes into the manufacturing of an automobile – steel, aluminum, rubber, glass, plastic, oil, etc. – has gone up dramatically in the last several years, putting tremendous pressure on the auto companies and their suppliers.

    SNIP

    cont here: http://www.autoextremist.com/

  54. David commented on Jul 2

    Gee, rj, you really heightened the tone of the discussion.

    As for turning it into a political discussion, Barry did that himself by positing that “corporate interests” had reversed whatever liberal media bias might have existed in the ’70’s, and now the media was all in the tank for the “right,” corporate interests, and all that.

    My response is:
    1) the media in general tilt to the left as evidenced by their self-identification, issue support AND political contributions.

    2) The media might just be wrong on their optimism, rather than deliberately trying to purvey misinformation. Never ascribe to a conspiracy what can be ascribed to incompetence. It’s almost always proved to be the latter.

  55. vohden commented on Jul 2

    As a life long conservative, I have always wondered why those who make a living and spend most of their time investigating politics, business and news have mostly concluded that left is best?

    http://www.journalism.org/node/2304

    A survey of 1149 journalists indicate they are much more likely to describe themselves as “leaning leftward.”

    Of course…those “moderate” journalists’ definitions of “moderate” were really to the left of the general public’s, i.e. more than twice as likely to support gun control and abortion. Therefore, it wouldn’t be surprising that a much larger proportion of them would vote Democrat, in keeping in line with their actual political beliefs, despite their self-identification as “moderate.”

    It wasn’t 12, btw, a MSNBC survey of ACTUAL donations reported to the FEC, revealed that of 143 reporters identified, 125 donated to Democrats.

  56. Karl K commented on Jul 2

    Anybody on here who was a sentient adult in in the United States in 1976-1980?

    You want a BAD economy? I mean REALLY bad? That was it. Back then you couldn’t BUY gas.

    Look, things are hardly rosy right now, but guess what? It isn’t the apocalypse today, by any means. Companies fail and retrench. Even General Motors. People trump Starbucks! STARBUCKS!! Please, they had too many stores and their prices are too high.

    Meanwhile. Banks. Anybody a sentient adult in 1984? You know what happened to banks in 1984. They gave up ALL…repeat ALL… of their profits they had ever made UP TILL THAT POINT! This subprime mess is a blip compared to that.

    The rampant pessimism on this board is highly amusing. (Note: that’s different than saying we are in a bear market, which we clearly are in.

    Highly amusing.

  57. Lord commented on Jul 2

    Here’s a flashback to the past. Compare Harry Dent’s market projections to where it is now.

  58. David commented on Jul 2

    Vohden,

    I’m no psychoanalyst, but I suspect they lean left because they believe they are “enlightening the masses.” Like teachers, this lends itself to the mistaken belief that a command economy, like the classroom, or their one-way dispersal of information, is the best way.

  59. Todd commented on Jul 2

    My 2 cents :

    Why does CNBC give us hours of pollyanish commentary Dennis Kneale and his new clone in drag, Michelle Caruso Cabrera, a full hour of Larry Kudlow and his cronies and only maybe 5 minutes a day of Ron Insana???? Yes, I know Ron Insana is now just a CNBC contributor and not an on-air reporter but this speaks volumes about the quality of CNBC these days.

    I personally believe the country desperately needs a centrist guy like Ron Insana as Secretary of Treasury. What a brilliant mind, combined with completely honest, bias-free commentary on the “message of the markets. Another good option, CNBC can fire Larry Kudlow and apologize for his complete lack of objectivity and replace him with a show hosted by Ron Insana that would actually feature intelligent discussion for a change with guests who don’t have a political axe to grind acting as shills for the GOP.

    It’s critically important for major media to give us honest reporting and not bogus pollyanish crap that has virtually no value to anybody who doesn’t subscribe to supplysidegroupthink. Economics is not a Disney movie, there is no guaranteed happy ending here. BR, I hope you become rabid about taking these people down. The country needs people to step up at times like these.

    DL mentioned earlier that Larry Kudlow sees virtue in optimism. He’s just worshipping ad nauseum at the Church of Reagan, the eternal optimist. Well, here’s a legacy of Ronald Reagan: the country got numbed by the idea that we could prosper forever with huge budget deficits and that it would never matter. Dick Cheney said Reagan proved that. The ginormous deficits of today are a major legacy of Reaganomics and Reagan himself. That doesn’t deserve any halo in my opinon.

    Finally, BlueStateDon wrote:

    “All of this is why lonely individuals decades ago warned against consolidation of the media. Eventually their warnings were disregarded as a quaint remnant of an earlier age, and things came to pass exactly in the manner that the warnings foretold. Fox News is the archetype of the new media class, and as such is functionally indistinguishable from Izvestia, Tass, and Pravda, the old propaganda organs of the Soviet Union, whose Russian versions of Brit Hume and Larry Kudlow relentlessly pushed the notion that communism was always and everywhere ascendant, the shelves at the GUM department store were always full, and that millions of impoverished westerners were yearning to join socialism’s gleaming promise.”

    This is quite a brilliant and accurate description. Bravo.

  60. Richard commented on Jul 6

    Kudlows philosophy is if you yell the word “prosperity” frequently, along with mentioning the name Reagan, everyone will soon think all is well. In other words its only a recession if you talk about it.

  61. Jim D commented on Jul 6

    Karl says we should compare this economy to the Carter years.

    OK, lets.

    Measure inflation the same way that Carter did, and it’s about the same.

    Measure unemployment the same way Carter did, and it’s about the same.

    Don’t go on about how bad it was under Carter, you aren’t measuring it right.

    Oh, and we didn’t have gas because of an attempt to Congress to “fix” gas prices. Here’s hoping they don’t “fix” it like that again.

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