The communication innovations we have around us today like the internet, financial newspapers, and special interest television channels focused on investing like CNBC are a high speed pipeline of nonsensical chatter. All these sources of information mean that there is no shortage of media people trying to answer our questions about the stock market and specific stocks. You have to remember that the news media are constantly competing to survive against other stuff you can watch. If they don’t always sound like they know exactly what is going on then you won’t watch their presentations. If you don’t tune into their show then their ratings go down. If their ratings go down they get fired and their show gets cancelled.
This means that financial journalists are in the business of finding great stories and sounding like authorities no matter what. The stock market is a great place for them to dig up news ‘scoops’ to feed to the public. They don’t really check their facts very well and sometimes not at all. This means that if some insider wants to feed you a line of bull manure then all they have to do is maintain good connections with financial journalists, sponsor an investment show, or outright buy an investing TV channel like Jack Welch, the CEO of GE, did when he set up CNBC. What a great way for inside executives to control the flow of news information to the public then to actually own one of the only financial news channels…
… but not so great for you!
These journalists also kick up the fire by bringing in so-called ‘experts’ to talk about each finansnyheter side of some topic that real experts would not consider important. This just makes it all the more confusing for the public to understand what is important when buying or selling a stock. Shows on CNBC like ‘Closing Bell’, ‘Kudlow & Company’, and ‘Mad Money’ do nothing but confuse and misdirect the attention of most individual investors in the public. Even worse this means that the financial news media allows overpriced stocks to be recommended through analysts in the inside web that inside executives are dumping on the public because they are trying to get out. This actually happened at the top of the bull market in 1999. For a great historical description of what happened read Maggie Mahar’s book entitled “Bull.”
The Exuberance of Lemmings
The famous Yale University Economist, Prof. Bob Shiller, Ph.D. is particularly harsh on the media in his book “Irrational Exuberance.” Dr. Shiller is one the economists that Alan Greenspan respects most and where he got the term “Irrational Exuberance.” He portrays the media as sound-bite-driven where superficial opinions are preferred over in-depth analyses. I agree whole heartedly with him and contend that it is also done just because the industry would rather have the retail investor confused and emotionally pliable to get you to buy and sell when they want.
People who had invested their life savings in the stock market were ripped off because the financial news media and analysts were hyping up what a great buy stocks were at the very top of the market in 1999 and 2000. At the same time inside corporate executives were selling out everything they had. What is amazing is that our federal government in the form of the Security Exchange Commission never did a thing about it. There was never an blanket case taken or an outcry that almost all of the inside executives had somehow magically sold out of the market six months before the market crashed.