Tuesday, September 13, 2011
A Week of Horrid Headlines
Journalism is often called “History written in a hurry.” If so, last week’s headlines from the front page of The Wall Street Journal reflected a period of our current history that will likely have future historians wondering how we made it through these times without completely losing our minds.
If fear sells newspapers, drives television news ratings, gets bad laws passed, and is useful for selling all manner of other goods and services, than last week must have been very good for business.
The weekend edition, Saturday/Sunday, September 3-4, began with “Job Growth Grinds to a Halt.” The sub-headline was “Lack of Hiring in August Roils Financial Markets; Gloom Ratchets Up Pressure on Obama.” The President would have to wait until the following Thursday to roll out his “Jobs” bill and to tell a joint session of Congress, “Pass this bill now!”
Reluctant to admit its role in the housing mortgage crisis that broke in late 2008 during the political campaign and largely due to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—both of whom own 50% of U.S. mortgages—the next article on page one was “U.S. Sues Big Banks Over Home Mortgages.”
Monday was Labor Day so there was no WSJ edition, but on Tuesday, September 6, the lead headline was “Europe Signals Global Gloom” with a sub-headline, “World Markets Fall as Continent’s Debt Crisis Fuels Worries of Lengthy Slowdown.” It reminded me of the cliché that, when the U.S. sneezes, the rest of the world gets pneumonia.” Under the lead story was a headline, “Voter Discontent Deepens Ahead of Obama Jobs Plan.”
By Wednesday, September 7, the headline was “Euro Woes Stir Currency Fears” with a sub-headline, “Older Americans Held Hostage by Mortgages.”
On Thursday, September 8, the headline was “Fed Prepares to Act” with a sub-headline, “Officials Consider Unusual Steps to Avert an Economic Stall.” The nation has been stalled since 2008 when gobs of taxpayer money was used to bailout banks, an insurance company, and two major auto manufacturers. Meanwhile, an accompanying headline said, “U.S. Hits Builders with Pay Probe” about a Labor Department investigation “of the top companies in home building, hitting them with a broad demand for records that has led to complaints of regulatory overreach.” You think?
By Friday, following Obama’s speech, the lead headline was “Obama’s Bid to Spur Growth." The sub-headline was “President Asks Congress for $447 Billion in Cuts, Spending; Tepid GOP Response.” With a $14 trillion national debt, I’d be tepid, too.
The proposed bill would be paid for with tax increases that would kick in after the next election in 2012. They are the same increases a Democrat-controlled Congress refused to authorize!
The Saturday weekend edition, led off with “Banker’s Exit Rattles Markets” and a sub-headline, “In Europe, Top ECB Economist Resigns, Seen as Policy Protest; Dow Industrials Fall 303.68 points.”
Obama speaks. The Dow tanks. Coincidence? I think not.
The other lead article headline was “Treasury Weighs New Tax Scheme.” It began “Treasury floats the notion of eliminating some, but not all taxes on overseas profits of U.S. multinational companies…”
Thus, the week’s WSJ headlines were a microcosm of the fears defining the economies of the U.S. and European nations whose socialist programs and massive over-spending had landed all of them in hot water.
We expect and we want government to exercise prudence in the management of public funds, but successive administrations and congresses did not, electing always to expand government. Let's hope the Fed does not want to print more money. It will cause a collapse of confidence.
It’s September 2011. Welcome to the 1930s.
© Alan Caruba, 2011