Shadowstats' John Williams Exposes The Media's Propaganda Spin, Or Why Watching CNBC Can Be Hazardous To Your Wealth

Tyler Durden's picture

In his latest letter to subscribers, Shadowstats' John Williams dissects recent economic data, and after providing yet more evidence that after the recent period of "bottom-bouncing at a low-level plateau of business activity" the economy has once again entered a double dip. Overall, it has cost the US taxpayers several trillion in debt (which will never be repaid), and a major hit to the value of the paper in their wallets, just to play the game of extend and pretend for a just under 18 months. The positive effects of the sugar high are now gone, leaving just the negative, one of which is the propaganda spin engulfing the entire legacy media complex whose survival depends on the ongoing perpetuation of the Ponzi lie that all is well. And courtesy of Mr. Williams we have prima facie evidence of precisely why formerly reputable channels such as CNBC are in the process destroying their credibility and causing an exodus of viewers, with the few remaining viewers remaining primarily for the opportunity to heckle the openly lying talking heads. To wit from Shadowstats: "Let me recount two personal experiences. Back in late-1989, I contended that the U.S. economy was in or headed into a deep recession. CNBC had me in to discuss my views along with a senior economist for a large New York bank, who was looking for continued economic growth. Before the show, the bank economist and I shared our views in the Green Room. I outlined my case for a major recession, and, to my shock, his response was, "I think that pretty much is the consensus." We got on the air, I gave my recession pitch, and he proclaimed a booming economy for the year ahead. He was a good economist and knew what was happening, but he had to put out the story mandated by his employer, or he would not have had a job. More recently, following an interview on a major cable news network (not CNBC), I was advised off-air by the producer that they were operating under a corporate mandate to give the economic news a positive spin, irrespective of how bad it was." And now you know that watching stations like CNBC for anything more than just comedic value is hazardous to your health and wealth.

John Williams criticism is even harsher:

Further complicating the outlook is a more traditional issue: pronouncements by some economists on Wall Street and financial reporters in the popular media, who act as shills for the needs of Wall Street and political Washington. While there are a number of fine and honest economists and financial reporters in their respective fields, there also are those — often very heavily publicized — who spew Pollyannaish nonsense aimed at affecting public sentiment and/or the financial markets during troubled economic times.  

I know from other personal experiences that these circumstances are commonplace. A simple example of recent distortion was yesterday’s positive hype over an unexpectedly-low weekly jobless claims number. Widely known — at least I have discussed the matter frequently — is that the Department of Labor cannot adjust the weekly claims numbers meaningfully for regular seasonal variations. Accordingly, reporting around holidays invariably results in unusually large and unexpected swings in the weekly numbers. Yesterday’s data covered the onset of the Fourth of July weekend. It would not be at all unusual to see a similarly-meaningless reverse-gyration in next week’s release.

At least we can now drop any pretense that America and the Evil Empire of the 1980's are in any way different - central planning: check; complete media subjugation: check; power to the (unionized) workers: check; "free" healthcare for all - check; the only difference is that the hegemonic kleptocrats in the US, i.e., the banking elite, are sophisticated enough to keep the plebs distracted and while enjoying their last years of power in a collapsing regime, are rapidly transferring whatever remaining pockets of wealth in US (and global) society are left to their own private safes in undisclosed locations. We know how things ended for the once great USSR - it should provide a great roadmap for what is coming to the US.

And while we are on the topic of John Williams, who remains the only accurate tracker of M3 now that the Fed deems this monetary aggregate irrelevant, here is his latest commentary on the inflation-adjusted M3. It's ugly:

Plotted below is the year-to-year change in real (inflation-adjusted) M3 (updated for the Fed’s revisions) versus U.S. recessions, as recognized  by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Whenever annual real change in M3 has turned negative, the economy always has fallen into  recession, or if already in recession, the economy has entered a period of intensified downturn, usually within six to nine months of the initial M3  downturn. The signal for economic trouble ahead is the annual real M3 growth first turning negative, as happened in December 2009.


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docj's picture

We've always been at war with Eastasia, citizen.

Mad Max's picture


Optimism is jobs

Bullshit is growth

Looting is work

Fish Gone Bad's picture

My "I'm getting creeped out" meter went off the other day.  I had to buy another case of canned food to calm my nerves.

StychoKiller's picture

"Caring enough" solves problems.

Pollyana knows reality.

Johnny Bravo's picture

Look at the derivative of M3 though.  It's getting smaller and looks like it will hit a minimum soon.

You can't predict the future with the past, unless you use derivatives and technical patterns to see WHY a trend is played out or will play out soon.

Nothing lasts forever.  Even the war with Eastasia had to end eventually.

When everybody is buying, who will be left to buy soon?

Everybody is buying all this doom and gloom shit lately.  That's why we saw a rally.
When people get bullish again (as they have been during earnings) we will see a top in stochastics and another leg down.

Andy_Jackson_Jihad's picture

Nothing lasts forever.  Even the war with Eastasia had to end eventually.


Huh?  Eastasia is our ally.  We are at war with Eurasia and always have been.  I'm bullish on Navistar.   BUY BUY BUY

faustian bargain's picture

That chart is the derivative. Bottoming out doesn't mean anything; it has to go all the way back up into positive territory to expand again.

docj's picture

Uh, sure.  So hip-hip-horray that we - allegedly in the midst of this skittle-shitting unicorn driven most-awesomeist-recovery-in-the-entire-recorded-history-of-ever - are, by your logic, collapsing slightly  less slowly then when everyone thought the world was ending last spring.

Wow - guess I'll go buy me an iPoop now.

Thanks for that.

BobWatNorCal's picture

"I was advised off-air by the producer that they were operating under a corporate mandate to give the economic news a positive spin, irrespective of how bad it was."

I blame George Bush.

Bill Lumbergh's picture

It's not what you know, it's what people think you know:

OldTrooper's picture

Nice one.  But it'll never be a real school until they make it to a bowl game.

Jim Cramer's picture

It's 2:30 or 3:30 on the east coast.  Here comes the pump.

johngaltfla's picture

You're thinking too small. GETV is more like it. And behind the corporation are a lot of powerful financial interests. After all, General Electric didn't get that banking charter because they have such great programming on its cable channels or their poison filled mercury CFLs.....

NOTW777's picture

LOL fed forecast - booming economy/recovery NOT as liesman gently lays it out - better than expected decling GDP

Whizbang's picture

Wait, wait wait, you can't just claim that you were told to put a positive spin on your analysis without identifying the media outlet and the producer that told you this. No more of this hinky unverifiable rumor driven bullshit. If there's a story, let's hear it or stop wasting my time to plug your damn websites.I agree with you that there is a very positive spin mechanism, which has recently broken down. 73% of americans don't believe the hype anymore, and even Krugman is like a whole different guy on his radio program than his CNBS show, but come on. 

This shit drives me up the wall. The world is a shitty enough place without making more of it up...

I totally just slept with a super model, I just can't tell you which one...right.

Mako's picture

All one has to do is look at Total Credit Market Debt in the lastest Federal Reserve Z1 report.  You don't have an expanding economy, you have a deflating economy. 

You are probably in a death spiral and probably have been for over a year. 

Credit from $52.9T to $52.1T in a year ... it's collapsing.

Mad Max's picture

Uhhhh... 1.8% YOY contraction doesn't seem like a collapse to me.

There are many other signs of a collapse, but I don't see this as one.

Mako's picture

Remove the panic Federal government creation and your numbers look very much worse. 

Oh, they have done a good job of slow the decline, on that I would agree.  The ATMs would have stopped working in 2008 without massive government and central banking assistance. 

Someone better find the new credit to service $52.1T fast.

Death spiral, slow death.

2007: Credit creation peaked in dollar terms at $4.7T annualized

2008: Credit creation failed to expand

2009: Credit creation collapsed at a -$808B rate

2010: Continue of the credit creation collapse

Slow death, remove Fed government spending and you will see almost instant chaos once again, of course it's still going to happen, just in a slow death way now.

NOTW777's picture

LOL fed predicting recovery 5-6 years out; 2-3 years after obama leaves office

traderjoe's picture

Don't know who drive-by junked you. 

I've never bought into the concept of the "new normal" - that you could have slow growth as a steady state. There's too much debt, inefficient capacity, and structural inefficiencies to support debt service needs in a slow growth environment. Either the growth picks up and 'we' can pay off the debt and roll the debt, or you start having waves of defaults and a deflationary spiral. Nothing's been solved - the can has just been kicked down the road. At some point, you either grow out of it (which is doubtful) or you have to pay the piper. There is nothing in the middle. 

Greyzone's picture

I've never figured out a way to have a "steady state" economy with high debt loads. I am not sure it can be done as debt requires growth to pay back the interest or results in deliberate impoverishment of one set of people for the benefit of another set of people. And that latter option is not sustainable either because people do things like pull out guillotines and such when they feel too oppressed.

Any steady state economy will have to be a low debt or no debt economy.

Ripped Chunk's picture

"I've never bought into the concept of the "new normal""

What!? You have a problem with waking up at 5AM everyday, drinking a half a bottle of vodka just get up the nerve to turn on the TV for your daily dose of fiction, then spending the balance of the day alternating between screaming hysterically and smacking yourself in the head with a hammer?

Man up.

homersimpson's picture

Grow up! Don't let the parade pass you buy. Get in or get out. ZH is all about negative news... so sayeth the CNBC visitors to this site.

CNBC is to the financial industry just like newspapers were to the real-estate industry during the 2000s: full of fluff reporting at the expense of their integrity.

NOTW777's picture

"negative news?"  more like truthful news, hard reality; a small balance to the overwhelming fake news

homersimpson's picture

Don't tell that to some of these CNBC-heads that prowl around here trying to make us look like clowns for being "brain-washed," "sheep," or (insert ignorant adjective here). They'll just point out they're more intelligent than us since they have an affinity to gamble more than us.

Johnny Bravo's picture

Look, just because somebody is negative doesn't make them "sheep" or "brainwashed" or whatever.
However, it doesn't mean that they are right.

ZH has been negative on the markets as long as I've been coming here, and yet the markets have rallied the entire time.
Is the MSM right?  No.  Is ZH right?  No.

Nothing is ever black or white, and yet most people seem to think in these terms.

When everybody is buying gold, it's time to sell.  When everybody is selling gold, it's time to buy.

I think that what people at this site fail to understand is that their views are a lot more common than they think, for one, since the public sentiment is so negative in general.
What people also fail to realize is that an extreme view in any direction is nothing but a precursor for trends to change.

The CNBC heads are no more wrong than the ZH people.  At least they've been right about the rally, even though they were wrong about the decline.
ZH was right about the decline and wrong about the rally.

When the facts change, so does my mind.  What do you do sir?
Reality is reality.  Perception of reality is in the eye of the individual.

Everyman's picture

QUOTE:  "ZH has been negative on the markets as long as I've been coming here, and yet the markets have rallied the entire time.
Is the MSM right?  No.  Is ZH right?  No."

Totally wrong.  ZH has been consistently correct on the manipulation of the market, and CNBS idiots need to commit Hari Kari for the lying pieces of filth that they are.  The CNBS and the Media (including the banksters and politicians they enable) are worse for this country than ALL the TALIBAHN.


CNBS has almost EVERYBODY WRONG on the station.  Kudlow is one of the first that needs to be put up against the wall.  I used to like Kirnan and Kudlow, but NO MORE.  They are the biggest liars and have the largest lack of credibility in the country or industry.  Don't even get me started with the "Fast Money Crowd" or Stevie the idiot savant pumper.


If these people had ANY MORALS or ETHICS or something called JOURNALISTIC INTEGRITY, they would be questioning more the politics, the lying bankers, and the lying govt workers that come up with the false stats!


How could ANYONE with half a damn brain NOT UNDERSTAND that UE is over 20%???

How can these people get up there and state there is a "recovery" when so many are UE'ed and on benefits????

How can any of those CNBS idiots not take into account the debt, sovereign debt, defaults, and deficits, and then think everything is just OK,and "better than  expected" or "beats expectations"!!!!!!


Just how low does it have to go to "expect" this kind of crap to go for actual News reporting or media??


It is propaganda and fantasy.

willien1derland's picture

+1 Here! Here! Like He Said

Temporalist's picture

I think they misunderstood the comment Homie.

Your point being that trolls call it negative and ZHers call it reality.


Homie...I saw your doodle...


Turd Ferguson's picture

As someone who has had the pleasure of being a "guest" on CNBS several times, I can speak from experience that Mr Williams states the truth.

Gimp's picture

Orwell understood people in power do anything to stay there.

Our news media today = 1984 - "Newspeak"

Watch, read and listen to todays media at the risk of serious mental health issues.

Thank God for ZH!

deadparrot's picture

Best way for a criminal to stay out of jail is to sign the judges' paychecks.

Internet Tough Guy's picture

Tyler, I like your anger. You have a kind of sick desperation in your laugh.

midtowng's picture

I am shocked! Shocked I say! Well, maybe not shocked. Maybe not even surprised.

"a corporate mandate to give the economic news a positive spin, irrespective of how bad it was"

UGrev's picture

The ministry of truth is alive and well.

willien1derland's picture


"Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime is death."
- George Orwell, 1984

Steaming_Wookie_Doo's picture

I was advised off-air by the producer that they were operating under a corporate mandate to give the economic news a positive spin, irrespective of how bad it was.

OK, that's on the end-result side. Who exactly ordered the positive spin? I have my doubts about the tv station owners, since to some degree they calculate that folks will watch news more when there is some degree of danger or uncertainty in the environment.

This is the opposite of shouting "Fire!" in a theatre--they're shouting "Oooh, what nice tiki torches. How relaxing..." as they're trying to edge out the door before the smoke overtakes everyone.

Chemba's picture

I think ZH would be even more impactful (than it is) were it to expunge the bias, and focus on facts and analysis (only)

Ragnarok's picture

Every media oulet has bias, even new media, just turn on your filter and dive in!

Cathartes Aura's picture

bias?  I prefer to call it "flavour". . .

slightly bitter, somewhat tart, overall heady. . . *nods*

NOTW777's picture

even funnier buffet telling obama things are "positive"

Misean's picture

CNBS has to counter the nattering nabobs of negativism on the web. 

newporttrader's picture

LOL listening to CNBC is useless. I wish i had my DVR set where they mentioned that Before Hayward met with Obama, BP wanted an agreement where if they agreed to do what Obama wanted they wanted the US media to lay off as it was destroying their stock price. As soon as Obama got his 20b all of a sudden the Only thing worth talking about is Lebron and Some kid that stole an airplane with no shoes on?

Smiddywesson's picture

This is the economy of the walking dead.

That's why I don't believe they can take this rally to the moon.  If they could move the market indefinitely, you know they would already have done so.  If they had the power to change reality, they wouldn't have let their all important consumer confidence slip by "allowing" the market to drop from the April 23rd high.  Nice try in early June, but they gave all that back too.  People with unlimited power don't have to time their manipulation to coincide with reported earnings.  They DO seem to be able to really move the market hard for only about a week at a time and then Bennie has to head back to the helicopter pad to reload.

Mad Max's picture

I have my creeping suspicions that after those of us small investors who see the train get out of stocks, something will be done to prop up stocks, or at least some of them, to again benefit a small cabal of insiders at the expense of everyone else.

If I knew what that something was, I would either join in or prosecute them.  But I don't.

This will repeat a couple more times until growth somewhere far away and peak oil combine to wipe the US out for good.