Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New York Times: Won't get fooled again

Michael Barone notes just how unexpected more bad economic news always seems to economists and Big Media as a whole.


As megablogger Glenn Reynolds, aka Instapundit, has noted with amusement, the word “unexpectedly,” or variants thereof, keeps cropping up in mainstream-media stories about the economy.

“New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly climbed,” reported May 25.

“Personal consumption fell,” Business Insider reported the same day, “when it was expected to rise.”

“Durable goods declined 3.6 percent last month,” Reuters reported May 25, “worse than economists’ expectations.”

“Previously owned home sales unexpectedly fall,” headlined Bloomberg News May 19.

“U.S. home construction fell unexpectedly in April,” wrote the Wall Street Journal May 18.

Those examples are all from the last two weeks. Reynolds has been linking to similar items since October 2009.

So, what gives? Are the economists and econ beat writers a) hopeless cheerleaders for the President who will go to any lengths to give him cover or b) do they really believe the Keynesian gimmickry employed by Team O will work this time around or c) are they just abjectly terrible at what they do?

Since the 3 are definetely not exclusive to one another, we'd go with a combination of all 3 by varying degrees depending upon the individual or media outlet.

And right on cue, here's the New York Time's lead editorial from Tuesday's paper:

A month ago, when an initial gauge of first-quarter economic growth came in surprisingly weak, many policy makers and economists expected the bad news to prove fleeting. But when revised data were released last week, the growth estimate remained stuck at an annual rate of 1.8 percent, compared with 3.1 percent at the end of last year.

More troubling in the latest figures, consumer spending — the largest component of the economy — was especially slow. Stagnant wages and higher prices for gas and food are squeezing family budgets, while falling home equity hurts consumer confidence. That suggests more bad news to come.

OK, then - they've gone on record as stating that when more bad news rolls down the pike, it certainly won't be unexpected.

And America's paper of record should know well enough because they are advocating for much of the same statist Keynesian hocus pocus that has been tried already. After bashing the Republicans, here are the big ideas championed by the Old Gray Lady:

The White House has offered sounder ideas, including job retraining, plans to boost educational achievement and tax increases to help cover needed spending.
(ed. note: Can someone please give us a precise operational definition of "retraining"?)

The sinkholes in the economy should be obvious. Most prominently, the housing market is still awful, and state and local government budgets are still a mess. Conditions apparently have to get worse before deficit-obsessed policy makers will be ready to address them, including with bolstered foreclosure relief and more fiscal aid to states. More delay would only imperil the recovery, such as it is. And without a strong recovery, it will be even harder to repair the budget. Continued hard times means low tax revenues and high safety-net spending.

The administration could work to ease the rules for refinancing mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-run mortgage giants. Easier refinancings would lower monthly payments for potentially hundreds of thousands of borrowers in good standing, and in that way, free up spending money to boost the economy.
(italics, ours)


It's like the Times editorial board had just awoken from a near 2-1/2 year slumber and thought that the crap that either landed us in this mess in the first place or had been prolonging the agony represented bold and fresh thinking. Do they not read what they print before going to the presses?

So, yeah... not forcing states to deal with their own self-made fiscal messes, taking your hard-earned scratch to string along poor-risk home-owners so that Fannie and Freddie represent a giant national mortgage methadone clinic, soaking the rich who will merely alter their behavior to avoid these taxes (happens every time, folks) and, you know, retraining, are all the big ideas put forth from the economically illiterate Rip Van Winkles at the Times.

At least they won't be caught off guard when their terrible ideas produce the very results they themselves are expecting.

H/T: Roger Hedgecock

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