MarketWatch: Going Beyond the Instant Financial News?

One can hardly expect MarketWatch, being in the Dow Jones stable of financial news powerhouses like the Wall Street Journal and Barrons to be the most impressive. But Marketwatch is making a superb case forĀ  itself with a)its independence of point of view and b)its willingness to take on major issues and not tow the Wall Street/GOP line.

Take its recent story on the US Economy –

The three biggest lies about the economy

. The commentary, and this is the major strength of the MarketWatch financial news, have taken on an issue that the WSJ glides over and Barrons keeps balking on. Here is a sampler:

Myth 1: Unemployment is below 10%

What nonsense that is. The official jobless rate, at 9.7%, is a fiction and should be treated as such. It doesn’t even count lots of unemployed people. The so-called “underemployment” or U-6 rate is an improvement: For example it counts discouraged job seekers, and those forced to work part-time because they can’t get a full-time job.That rate right now is 16.6%, just below its recent high and twice the level it was a few years ago. And even that may not tell the full story. Many people have simply dropped out of the labor force statistics….
Myth 2: The markets are panicking about the deficit

To hear the G-20 tell it, the U.S. and other top countries had better slash those budget deficits before the world comes to an end. And maybe the markets should be panicking about the deficits. But they’re not. It’s that simple.If they were, the interest rate on government bonds would be skyrocketing. That’s what happens with risky debt: Lenders demand higher and higher interest payments to compensate them for the dangers.

But the rates on U.S. bonds have been plummeting recently. The yield on the 30-year Treasury bond down to just 4%. By historic standards that’s chickenfeed. Panicked? The bond markets are practically snoring….
Myth 3: The U.S. is sliding into “socialism”

For a system allegedly being strangled in its bed, U.S. capitalism seems to be in astonishingly robust shape.

Numbers published by the Federal Reserve a few weeks ago show that corporate profit margins have just hit record levels. Indeed. Andrew Smithers, the well-regarded financial consultant and author of “Wall Street Revalued,” calculates from the Fed’s latest Flow of Funds report that corporate profit margins rocketed to 36% in the first quarter. Since records began in 1947 they have never been this high. The highest they got under Ronald Reagan was 30%.

Brett Arends offers a highly unconventional and one could say “contrarian” view on Wall street. And Marketwatch allows full rein to him and some of its other feisty commentators – thus full marks to Marketwatch.

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