Man Without Qualities

Friday, October 31, 2003

Valley of Denial

As everyone now knows and is talking about:

Accelerating from a jog to a sprint, the economy surged from July through September at the fastest pace in nearly two decades. Both consumers and businesses helped power the gains, fresh evidence the national rebound is on firmer footing. The broadest measure of the economy's performance, gross domestic product, grew at a breakneck 7.2 percent annual rate during those three months, more than double the 3.3 percent rate in the previous quarter.

And for the past day it has also been heard and written incessantly and everywhere that the strong GDP report has seriously weakened — at least for now, and perhaps for good — the Democratic case against how President Bush has handled the economy.

But wait! There is someplace in the blogosphere, a cyber-valley that time forgot, where not a word has appeared on these topics: Eschaton.

Eschaton posts during that period deal with (1) Google/Microsoft, (2) goof up at the Justice Department on redacting some obscure data from a document, (3) Condi's comments on Clinton administrations intelligence policies, (4) Lou Dobbs' polling policies, (5) Greg Easterbrook on California's net revenue receipt from federal government, (6) "Hajji" (said to be the war on terrorism's own "dehumanizing name"), (7) Neal Pollack on Daily Show?, (8) emminent domain in Greater Cleveland, (9) Luskin, (10) more Luskin, (11) quasi-paranoid alarm that "They've discovered a way for new jobless claims to fall every week while simultaneously remaining exactly the same," (12) Chris Matthews on Dick Cheney, (13) armed man (actually, two women) with toy gun in Cannon House Office Building, (14) more Luskin, (15) emails to read, (16) more Luskin, (17) Colmes on CSPAN and the "morning memo," (18) e-mailed beef from a tired marine and (19) contractors' in Iraq.

I don't get around much to viewing Eschaton. But, yes, yes, each of these 19 topics (or is it 16, if all the Luskin is one?) has its interesting aspects to someone, I suppose. I am particularly intrigued that Atrios' readers can work up heads of anger over the possibility that emminent domain is being abused in the Greater Cleveland area - has Drew Carey been told? And it especially seems as though Don Luskin has got the attention of the Atrios crowd. Curiously, the same cannot be said for what the New York Times reports as "the autumn of our content:"

Profits are soaring, the economy is expanding at its fastest rate in nearly two decades and there are signs that businesses are finally beginning to hire.

So it's morning at the Times. But in Eschaton's Valley of Denial, all is the darkness of the tomb.

UPDATE: QandO points out that the news has not reached the Democratic Party websites, either.

Hoystory includes Herr Doktorprofessor among the active denialists - as distinguished from the passive types bobbing in Eschaton's primordial soup. Hoystory also links to a Random Jottings post disclosing an amazing error by Herr Doktorprofessor in reporting basic economic data! Imagine that. [There's something wrong with Hoystory's direct link. Scroll to Denial isn't just a river in Egypt.]

Always listen to Viking Pundit. He knows.

And - better - he tells! He tells about the polls, about why the active it-can't-last denialists are probably wrong and more. Enjoy some cyber crayfish and caraway aquavit - it's always August in the blogoshere.

FURTHER UPDATE: Brad DeLong may belong in his own class of passive aggressive denialists. He does mention the good news. He does say that it is good news. But ... this development doesn't seem to have any consequences worth noting.

In a DeLong post immediately preceding the release of the third quarter figures, the Good Professor did find something worth noting: About five hours from now the Department of Commerce is going to release its first early estimate of the seasonally-adjusted pace of economic growth in the third, summer quarter of 2003. It will be a big number--growth at an annual rate of 6.0% per year or more. ... [T]he number of hours worked in America fell at an annual rate of 0.7% per year during the summer. [The Department of Commerce ] will then announce an estimate of the annual rate of productivity growth over the summer--something close to a 7.0% annual rate. How can such strong output growth coexist with such lousy employment news?

But the third quarter rate of growth wasn't 6%, it was 7.2%. There's no post revising that assumption. But a report of a dip in what "everyone" (a favorite DeLongian term) has been characterizing as an unsustainably torrid rate of consumer spending warrants it's own post including the bizarre comment That's a big enough piece of bad news to cause me to take a full percentage point off my personal estimate of the fourth quarter GDP growth rate...

But, of course, no such "personal estimate" that takes into account the surprisingly high third quarter figures had ever been provided.

Gee, since he set it up this way, is there any fourth quarter result that would not allow the Good Professor to take credit for calling the quarter right?

UPDATE: Ah, the Good Professor endorses the position that although some good things have happened, meaningful good things have not happened. Passive aggressive, obscure denialism.

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