MSNBC's Matthews Blames Higher Gold Prices on Ailing Bush Economy

     MSNBC’s “Hardball” host Chris Matthews showed viewers why he hosts a political show not an economic one following President George W. Bush’s State of the Union address.

     The former speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter criticized Bush’s speech on MSNBC’s January 28 post-speech coverage, arguing Bush should have addressed the economy more.

     “I think a lot of people expected the president to at least engage for a couple of minutes tonight on what’s going on in the world economically and why we should worry and why we should have confidence that we do a couple things right,” Matthews said.

     And what did Matthews use as evidence the U.S. economy is ailing?  Did he use economic indicators like soaring unemployment, double-digit inflation, double-digit interest rates and a contracting economy? The very same indicators that plagued the country under while Matthews was writing speeches for Carter – but haven’t come remotely close to reaching those levels under Bush?

    No, Matthews pointed toward the price of gold.

     “So, why are people buying gold right now?” Matthews asked. “Because it’s a smart move and that’s the scariest thing you can say – that gold bullion is a better investment than the American economy right now. And that’s a very interesting standard of why we’re in trouble.”

     According to Benchmark Financial Network Chief Economist Jerry Bowyer, the pressures on the price of gold are not solely driven by a downturn in the American economy – which Matthews indicated.

     “South Africa, which used to be the world’s largest gold producer, has recently been hammered by labor and power outages. It’s gold production that has been plummeting. How is that Bush’s fault?” Bowyer said to the Business & Media Institute. “India and China both have had rapidly growing middle classes, who have dramatically increased their purchases of jewelry. Is this a bad thing? Even if it is a bad thing, how is this Bush’s fault?”

     Bowyer also contributed changes in technology to gold prices exceeding $900 an ounce.

     “Several years ago, Wall Street firms started offering easier ways to purchase gold than before,” Bowyer said. “Instead of buying bullion and storing it in a safe deposit box, you can buy gold ETFs [Exchange Traded Funds] with the click of a mouse. How is that Bush’s fault?”

     Bowyer said Matthews crossed some boundaries with his criticism of the Bush State of the Union address and suggested Matthews’s revelations about the gold market came 30 years too late.

     “This is taking Bush bashing and blaming America first to new levels of absurdity,” Bowyer added. “Oh, and by the way, if Chris really feels this way, why didn’t he say so back when he was working for Jimmy Carter? Under Carter, gold outperformed the stock market far more dramatically than it has recently.”

      Matthews’s sudden desire for more economic rhetoric in the Bush speech is a bit curious. In October 2007, Matthews wasn’t as interested in the U.S. economy when he co-moderated a GOP debate in Dearborn, Mich. that was advertised to be geared toward the economy. Out of his 49 questions, 28 were largely non-economic – ranging from the bin Laden question to concerns about whether the candidates would support the GOP nominee.