Facts and figures

April 16, 2009 1:33:24 PM PDT
Liars figure, but figures don't lie.

My dad used to say that, and geez I wish he were around so I could ask him how he'd use that phrase to analyze the latest earnings report from JP Morgan Chase that it earned $2.1 billion in net income for the first quarter.

It was better than analysts' estimates, and it was good enough that the company's top executive says he wants to start paying back the government bailout money.

Oh, wait a minute. Government bailout money. $25 billion worth of it.

It's not fair to say that, without that money, JP Morgan Chase would have lost $23 billion; the bailout funds, known as TARP, are not accounted for in the corporation's operations.

But it is fair to say that without the TARP money, sitting in reserve, the company might have had to severely cut back elsewhere, which would have affected its revenues and its profits.

So my dad remains right - figures don't lie. But they don't always tell the entire picture either.

Is this latest earnings report another sign that at least one segment of the recessionary economy may have bottomed out? Perhaps. Of course, there's a long way to go; millions are out of work, with no job prospects in sight, and consumers still aren't spending.

We'll have the latest on the economy, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, if you didn't have spring fever yet, chances are you got a bout of it today. Between the weather and the Yankees opening day in a new stadium, it was hard not to feel a twinge of da fever. I know I did.

It's hard to look at this stadium without thinking about how the Yankees leaned so heavily on public funds to build an entirely private ballpark. Hard to think about how the team made such a big deal about how the new stadium would help the Bronx and provide public park space (it hasn't, at least not yet).

But I will not rain on the parade on opening day, when the sun's shining and the new ballpark - looking good, to be sure - hosts its first official Major League game.

Scott Clark heads our coverage of opening day.

And we're following developments and fallout from Gov. Paterson's announcement today -- long-expected -- that he wants same-sex marriages to become legal in New York. It's an even-more fascinating event given that yesterday Paterson, along with Mayor Bloomberg and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, were at St. Patrick's Cathedral for Archbishop Tim Dolan's inauguration.

And when the new head of the Catholic diocese here expressed his opposition to abortion, and when the 2300 people inside rose up cheering, Paterson was not among them (although he and the Mayor and Schumer did stand, their hands were noticeably at their sides).

The Church is as against same-sex marriages as it is against abortion - and the Governor, and the Mayor who supports him on this issue, wasted little time throwing down this political gauntlet to the new Archbishop.

Bloomberg's statement in support of same-sex marriage includes this line today:

"Different religions have different ideas about what constitutes a marriage. And each of us may have our own personal beliefs on what marriage means. These can be strongly-held convictions - and we're not asking anyone to change them or to behave in a way that's inconsistent with them.

"I strongly believe that it's not the State's place to define marriage in a way that excludes a segment of the population from the legal benefits associated with marriage."

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's glorious AccuWeather forecast. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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