Saturday, April 7, 2012

Disingenuous phrase of the week: Recovery Skeptics

Annie Lowrey--New York Times columnist and wife of Ezra Klein--seems to have coined a new phrase in her latest column: recovery skeptics. She argues that these people are ignoring reality in order to cling to their pessimistic outlooks:
Call them permabears. A solid six months of good and getting-better data — fewer Americans claiming unemployment benefits, rising industrial production and improving economic sentiment among them — have failed to convince them of the strength of the recovery.
"Permabears." I actually like that. And to be fair, I know some people--in the financial industry--who might actually qualify for such a label, though I would refer to them as merely overly cautious. And really, there's nothing wrong with such a strategy. Many people have done quite well by following such a road. They may miss out on big upswings in the market, but they also avoid huge downswings.

But I digress. Back to Lowrey's disingenuous stupidity.

According to her, the data shows a strong recovery underway. Obviously, she's bought into the Bureau of Labor Statistics phony numbers wholesale. Everything is peaches and cream in her world; all is well and getting better, it would seem. In the article itself, she doesn't actually cite any hard numbers, just presents this recovery as a matter-of-fact reality. And we know that this is pure, unadulterated fantasy, per the chart I provided in a recent post.

Tyler Durden, originator of that chart at Zerohedge, also summed up the reality of those "solid six months"--and more--of "good and getting better data":
Incidentally, the US has now generated 3 million jobs since the trough of the recession in September 2010, until which point it had previously lost 8 million. Unfortunately, since the real labor force has grown by 4.6 million over the same period, or at the conventionally accepeted 90,000 labor pool entrants per month for 51 months, despite what the BLS may say, because America is after all growing, this means that the Obama administration has created a negative 1.6 million jobs net of demographics, which in turn have cost the US a modest $5.1 trillion in new debt, or an even modest $3.1 million in debt for every job lost.
With information like that, who could possibly doubt the strength of the recovery? Only an actual thinking person, it would seem. Yet, Lowrey would have us believe that such an opinion--questioning the strength of the recovery--is some sort of fringe position. And to achieve that message, she calls the holders of that opinion "recovery skeptics," thereby invoking the now-common characterization of "climate change skeptics" for people who question the powers-that-be on climate change.

The rest of the article details the opinions of some of these skeptics--three of them, actually--then offers up the opinions of Mark Zandi to counter them. Remember Zandi? I've discussed him before. He's the guy that cliamed--with a straight face--that extending the payroll tax holiday would create three-quarters of a million new jobs in 2012. And with regard to the Stimulus, Zandi said:
I think it was a success, yes. It ended the recession. It jump-started the recovery. It’s not a source of long-term economic growth. It was never intended to be. But it did what it was supposed to do.
And that's where Lowrey goes to show that the opinions of people questioning the strength of the recovery are somehow on the fringe. The reality is the only people proclaiming that the recovery is going well are people in the Administration, or people--like Zandi--in the pocket of the Administration. Yet this doesn't stop Lowrey from offering up a dishonest conclusion:
It all adds up to a bleak picture, at least in the bears’ minority opinion.
It's all very much in the same pattern as Obama's own tired meme: pretend there is near-universal agreement on your position in order to marginalize those who disagree, in order to portray them as lone voices in the wilderness. It's an ugly technique, made even uglier by Lowrey's language: recovery skeptics. Bleck. But I guess George Orwell would be proud.

Cheers, all.

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