Morning Shows: More Government to Help Economy?

     Both ABC’s “Good Morning America” and NBC’s “Today” highlighted high gas prices, the unemployment rate and the stock market’s June 6 drop on the June 9 shows. And both suggested government intervention was needed to “help” the economy.

     NBC’s Ann Curry asked, “Can [the presidential candidates] actually do anything?” She also suggested perhaps the Federal Reserve should raise interest rates. ABC’s Bianna Golodryga reported Rep. Barney Frank’s (D-Mass.) assertion “that consumers may actually need a second stimulus check to help them along the way.”

     After discussing the stock market’s June 6 dip, ABC displayed a large graphic that said “Second Stimulus Package” under the headline “Helping the Economy.” ABC reported favorably on the “stimulus” checks that went out in the spring, glossing over the cost to taxpayers. On this broadcast, Golodryga proclaimed the first stimulus check to be a success. She pointed out that “we’ve got numbers from Wal-Mart and Costco showing that people are actually coming out and spending money.” Some economists, however, have stressed the problems with that handout strategy.

    “The problem with a short-run stimulus package is that we don’t have a short-run stimulus problem; we have a long-run investment problem. Business owners and managers see a rising political tide of economic populism, and that is a very dicey environment for long-term business planning,” explained Jerry Bowyer, Chief Economist for Benchmark Financial Network, in a column he wrote for

     ABC did provide some context on gas prices and unemployment amidst the negative financial news. Diane Sawyer pointed out that although gas prices are high in the United States, they are still relatively low compared to world standards – more than $8 in some European countries. And Dan Harris said although the unemployment rate has increased, it is still historically low.

     Harris reported that restaurants and bars added 11,000 jobs just last month. He then contributed his own personal observation: “I suppose it’s possible that more people are going to bars to drown their economic sorrows at this point.”

     Over on NBC, Curry spoke with Jim Cramer of CNBC’s “Mad Money” on the subject of gas prices, asking if “we can do things to shore up the weakened dollar.”

     Cramer responded, “There’s a natural correcting mechanism …We will correct. People will use cars less; it will bring prices down.” Curry then asked “about the possibility the Federal Reserve might help correct by trying to raise interest rates.” Cramer plainly explained that the Fed can’t do that right now because the economy cannot handle it due to the unemployment rate and the housing market.

     A frustrated Curry asked, “So you’re saying the only way to bring down prices is to use less of it [gas]?” Erin Burnett of CNBC simply replied, “That’s pretty much it.”

     And U.S. demand for oil products isn’t the fastest-growing, which means there’s less we can do – even by pulling back – to decrease worldwide demand, as Cramer explained.

     “It’s India, it’s China … they’re using two barrels per person; we use 25 per person per year. They’re going to four or five – we’re no longer marginally important,” Cramer said.

     Curry pressed: “Can [the presidential candidates] actually do anything?”

     “Sure, we’ve got to start being like everyone else in the world. We’ve got to stop being selfish,” Cramer offered. “We’ve got to drill. We’ve got to drill on both coasts. We’ve got to stop the situation where we don’t drill during certain seasons because of animals. Look, I’m a conservationist, but enough is enough.”

     Cramer had time to add one last comment: “Enough with ethanol! We’re using 30 percent of the corn crop for 3 percent of gasoline. It’s so stupid it’s scary.”

     NBC’s Matt Lauer lamented increasing gas prices and warned that “we got three months of summer to get through,” but Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service added a calmer context. Kloza told Lauer, “This is not the relentless march from $4 to five to six and to seven.”

     Lauer also looked ahead toward tropical disturbances and hurricanes spiking gas prices. But Kloza explained it wasn’t the hurricanes themselves that would raise prices but the hype surrounding them.

     “The hyperbole about hurricanes, not necessarily the tracks about hurricanes, are really going to be impacting the market,” Kloza said.