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November 30, 2005

Funny, Funny Stuff: The NYT Spins The Booming Economy As A Very Bad Thing

Thanks to Dr. Reo Symes.

The childish pettiness of the complaints should tell you the economy's doing pretty damn well:

Upbeat Signs Hold Cautions for the Future

Even the headlines is pretty funny. It's seriously suggesting that "upbeat signs" are a cause for "caution."

You know what are usually a cause for caution? Downbeat signs. But maybe that's just me.

Gasoline is cheaper than it was before Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans. Consumer confidence jumped last month and new- home sales hit a record. The stock market has been rising. Even the nation's beleaguered factories seem headed for a happy holiday season.

By most measures, the economy appears to be doing fine. No, scratch that, it appears to be booming.

Indeed, the government today revised economic growth for the third quarter to an annual pace of 4.3 percent, up from an earlier estimate of 3.8 percent and far higher than the 4 percent most analysts had expected. The revision was driven by even stronger consumer spending than earlier thought. Personal consumption rose by 4.2 percent, up from the 3.9 percent initial reading, the Department of Commerce reported.

But as always with the United States economy, it is not quite that simple.

Oh? It's "always" less than simple? The NYT sure seemed to think it was a pretty simple thing under Clinton.

For every encouraging sign, there is an explanation and concern for the future. Consumer confidence is bouncing back from what were arguably some of its worst readings in years.

This is, as a commenter put it, straining a muscle to find something bad to say.
The author just promised us that for each and every "encouraging sign" there would be either a "concern" or an "explanation."

Note how blithely the writer lumps those two in together as if they're the equivalent -- they're not. A "concern" is a downbeat sign, as was promised by the headline. An "explanation" is just an, um, explanation.

It's like saying that getting a raise comes with either a concern or an explanation, and in this case, you got your raise because of good performance. Well, yes, that is in fact EITHER a "concern" or "explanation." Specifically, the latter. There's just nothing bad about that explanation.

Continuing with this nonsense:

Gasoline prices - the national average is now $2.15, according to the Energy Information Administration - have fallen because higher prices held down demand and Gulf Coast supplies have been slowly restored.

I don't see a "concern" here. I see a pair of "explanations" that do absolutely nothing to dampen the genuinely good news about the economy-- although the writer continues straining to suggest just that.

There are many reasons the price of crude might fall... well, two reasons, actually: falling demand and rising supply. The writer notes, shockingly, that the price is oil is falling because both reasons are present.

This is a cause for "concern"?

Of course not. The writer can't say much bad about it and so slips it in as an "explanation" which is, for reasons I'm still not clear, a reason for "concern."

And etc. It's just too silly.

It spins the projected 3.6% 2006 growth rate as somehow weak. Clinton, of course, was feted for numerous years of 3.6% (or less) growth.

The only real "concern" mentioned is the possibility that the Fed will raise interest rates so high as to flatline the economy. Yes, they might, but they're not out to destroy the economy, and if they overshoot on the interest rates, they can always bring it back down.

Given that inflation came in lower than expectations (something the article fails to mention) it would seem reasonable to be somewhat optimistic about interest rates.

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posted by Ace at 02:42 PM

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