The geeks at TechCrunch may be hell on wheels when it comes to covering new computer software and hardware, but "not so much" when it comes to covering the economy.
Unless your idea of "news you can use" is the kind of shameless stock market cheerleading which is only good for getting on the wrong side of a bad trade, underpinning yet another knowing lie by a political hooker, or making overworked Americans feel like they're coming up short.
The kind of regurgitated economic journalism TechCrunch just vomited into the public forum pisses me off to no end, because I covered economic indicators in Washington, D.C., back in the day. And I know that this type of overly rosy economic story is a plague on Americans of every income and background, because it makes the average person feel like a loser by implying everyone else is doing better than they really are.
It’s not true. The economy sucks for everyone but the top 10 percent and has for about a decade now. The rest of us are all struggling.
You are not alone.
TechCrunch implied otherwise with this misleading economic headline for the critical Thanksgiving weekend sales period: “Thanksgiving/Black Friday Online Sales Hit $4.5B, 34% Of Purchases Made On Mobile.”
They followed it up in the body of the story published Nov. 28 with a lede built around a sin of omission. By focusing solely on the natural gravitation to online shopping, instead of the decline in holiday spending which actually occurred on Black Friday, they turned the frown that was the biggest shopping day of the year upside down.
The result was a story which falsely implied to many casual readers that Americans spent more this Thanksgiving weekend and our economy has been thriving.
The painful reality is that they didn't and it's not.
Consumers actually spent 6 percent less on Black Friday 2015 than the same day a year ago, by my calculations of the relevant data TechCrunch cited from Shoppertrak and Adobe. Total purchases on Nov. 27, both online and in person, fell to $13.14 billion from $14 billion.
We keep hearing that an economic recovery is underway. Yet for those who don’t have lots of money in the stock market, there’s been no economic recovery.
How many of you know that the market value of all U.S. listed stocks right now is $18.7 trillion. Not only is that almost a double from the March 2009 low, but the gain itself is just over $9 trillion. Let me repeat, the value of all US stocks is up by over $9 trillion in three years. Wow.
Obviously for such a huge gain the underlying US economy, particularly wages and salaries and employment must be doing so much better than it was back in early 2009. Right?
Early in 2009, after-tax take home pay for everyone who pays taxes was just about $5.9 trillion annualized. That was down from an all time peak of $7 trillion annualized at the beginning of 2008. The main reason after tax income was down so much was a plunge in capital gains – primarily from profits on home sales.
After three years of attempts at a recovery, take home pay is now around $6.3 trillion, up all of $400 billion annually since the early 2009 bottom, or 2% a year.
Officially, purchases fell 46% to a record low of 302,000 in 2011, from the 560,000 new homes sold to a much smaller population in 1963, when the government began tracking new home sales. The 2011 sales figures represent the third straight record low in as many years.
The real decline is actually 67% once the data is adjusted for population growth. The Cynical Times' figure for sales-per-million Americans is a more accurate measure of the broken bond of trust between American consumers and the U.S. housing and banking industries, and the damage that can be done when the Federal Reserve abandons the middle class to predatory business interests. New home sales per million Americans fell to 962 sales in 2011 from 2,958 in 1963 - the first time annual new home sales have ever fallen below 1,000 per-million-Americans.
"I blame the Fed – front and center," said economist Dean Baker, a member of the reality-based community who is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. "Amazingly, they just didn’t see the housing bubble and just didn't see how it could affect the economy."