It seems to me that the crappy weather in February is only cited as an excuse for poor performance, but never an explanation for the opposite.
Yes, this Realtytrac report on foreclosures says they may have fallen last month because notices were late, but that fact wasn't reported today in NPR's coverage this morning.
Check it out: "Severe winter weather appears to have temporarily slowed the processing of foreclosure records in some Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states," says the last line.
Now I wonder if that didn't help McDonald's sales. After all, those homeowners could certainly afford a few more Happy Meals thanks to an extra month of forbearance. But then what's Burger King's excuse?
More snow, no doubt.
While I'm at it, most news outlets I heard or read blithely accepted the White House's resort to blaming the weather for some of the bad job news last month.
But as some bloggers pointed out, heavy snow would have no discernible effect on hiring. All it might do is reduce hours worked. And while that's a part of the employment picture, it has nothing to do with headline unemployment or job numbers.
Then again, without the mainstream press failing to do its job, we wouldn't have jobs ourselves. So perhaps he media's failure to get the facts straight, and therefore hold policymakers' feet closer to the fire, is helping the economy after all.
What the hell. That reasoning strikes me as no more unsound than the kind that says if investors can be made to believe that the economy is on the mend, then the economy will indeed be on the mend, thanks to the increased flow of capital through the markets that will result.
There's logic to that, of course. And perhaps it made good sense in other ways back in the day. But that was then. As for now, without more fundamental economic change, including root and branch financial reform and wage growth that reflects workers' ability to share in corporate profits, blind faith in the false god of Mr. Market is just a recipe for inflating another asset bubble. (Alternatively, of course we're just pushing on a string.)
As an unemployed and underwater friend of mine in Las Vegas put it in an email to me last night, it feels like the financial crisis is working like a pair of suicide bombers plaguing the Middle East.
Says my friend: "People are going crazy to get back into the market now that things have 'settled down.' Now that they're complacent, the poop hits the air circulation device. It's sort of like those suicide bombers who work in pairs. The first one blows and then the second one gets all the rescue workers and gawkers."
An awful image of course, but perfectly in line with what the folks at the Roosevelt Institute said the other day.