Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ole, El Toro!

I am certainly no expert on bullfighting, and have got no existent wishing to go one. Despite those who laud it as a legitimate look of a certain weltanschauung, and its attendant civilization of machismo, I happen it hard to watch, as the result is inevitable and cruel. What I cognize on the topic (which may or may not be accurate), is derived primarily from having read some Ernest Hemingway and watching the movie Blood and Sand repeatedly (more for my grasp of Rita Hayworth, than of Tyrone Power or of the bullfighting scenes, truth be told).

Most of the cheers in the bullring are, of course, reserved for the courage and accomplishment of the matador, but there are occasions in which the bull is deemed to be an exceptionally worthy adversary, and is accorded noisy awards by an appreciative crowd.

Just the antonym is true on Wall Street, and on the airs of its most burning cheerleader, CNBC. In those precincts, the bull and only the bull is celebrated. Try to conceive of a human race (at least since the years of JFK) in which the major news coverage organisations did everything possible to extol the virtuousnesses of authorities policy, and to quell any intimation of dissent. Unthinkable? Repressive? Un-American? In fact, many have got got argued (this is a topic for another article, and not this one), that the mainstream media, which sees its function as the Public's watchdog, is, therefore, nearly always hostile to the incumbency.

For those who have a difficult clip accepting the prospect of such as bow in media, I ask for you to sample a few hours of the day-to-day menu on CNBC (which, although in my judgment, the most crying of the business-reporting media, is not alone in its function of hyping the bull).

On a typical day, the morning time shows unfastened with a treatment of the current position of stock futures. If they are ahead of "fair value," all is right with the world, since it plumber's snakes a strong open. If not, the hosts of those shows either downplay that news, or almost literally seek to wheedle them up, by pointing out those grounds why the marketplace should be going higher. This very morning, for instance, a invitee pointed out that she thought the opportunities of a recession had been increased by the recent marketplace disturbance and recognition crunch. After chiding her for "introducing the 'R' word" into the discussion, the host, Mark Haines took issue with her averment that consumer disbursement would likely suffer, since, he said, the consumer sentiment index (which had, at that hour, not yet been released), would demo consumer optimism. He based this on the "consensus" of experts. Under pressure, this invitee backpedaled and suggested that the recession (if there was to be one) would be short and mild. Whew!

It must be said that, at the same clip CNBC studies the trials of the sub-prime mortgage marketplace and the harm it have done to what is "otherwise" a very healthy economy, it goes on to supply an advertisement forum, both on telecasting and on its website, for companies advertisement low pressure cost, easy recognition mortgages. Those are the same genre of companies that are being accused of having made predatory loans to innocents, and cajoling them into either purchasing places they could not afford, or refinancing to hard cash out their equity for a assortment of purposes.

On today's website, in his characteristic "Trader Talk," British Shilling Pisani negotiation about what's pressuring the marketplaces today, and argues, in essence, that all such as negativeness is misplaced. After listing all those criteria, such as as decreased consumer spending, falling lodging values, jobs in the fiscal service industries, Pisani states that "all is not destine and gloom. The cardinal (says he) is to look at the information the right way." After all, a weakening economy, less consumer disbursement (unlike Mark Haines, Pisani believes that "consumer sentiment" is unimportant. Only "consumer spending" matters), declining place terms and downgrades of brokerage firm pillory all have got a Ag lining: a more than accommodative Fed. Taking that statement to its logical conclusion, of course, would propose that a depression would be REALLY EXCELLENT for low involvement rates!

Later this afternoon, after the marketplace closes, and we hear the shutting roundup, we can anticipate to be treated to the capricious contemplations of Larry Kudlow, whose insipid mantra "I'm for a strong America" names for an analysis, to cite Cher Vladimir Horowitz in the film Clueless, kindred to "searching for significance in a Pauly Shore movie." Until a few hebdomads ago, Kudlow close down every invitee who dared express a negative point of view, by inanely going on about our Goldilocks Economy (not too hot, not too cold, but just right!). I haven't heard that look recently, but I'm not fretting, because no substance what, Kudlow, for one, is for a strong America!

Follow that up with an hr of "B-B-B-Booyah, Cramer!" and, well, you acquire the point. At one time, I thought Jim Cramer was an insightful and superb trader. According to the most recent Barrons, however, Cramer's record, based on his stock picking in recent days, was worse than an indexed common fund. That's not so important, though, because one's stock picking record should be measured over many years, and Cramer's is fine. The job is that his character have go a caricature, and what with his sound effects, and ranting manner, it's hard to take him seriously.

A cardinal portion of the job may be establish in CNBC's choice of invitee observers on its news segments. The huge bulk of those observers derive their (very high) incomes, either directly or indirectly, from the sale of securities. Although most fiscal services companies are careful to divide the sales/investment and research facets of their operations, the fiscal gurus trotted out by these companies are paid in wages plus bonuses. Their bonuses, of course, are, in big measure, determined by the profitableness of their sale/research divisions. These folks are anything but stupid and they recognize this. Hence, I believe that nearly all the invitee observers have, to a greater or lesser extent, an axe to grind. Over the past few weeks, for the first time, concern news mercantile establishments broke their implied vows of silence, to discuss, openly, the atrocious prospect that Manhattan residential prices, after old age of unbelievable bad frenzy, might be owed for a correction. And who did they jog out to discourse this? Barbara Corcoran, the dean of high-end Manhattan residential brokerage, who have made a luck in this ever-increasing wonderland of multimillion dollar condoes built, it appears, mostly for hedgerow monetary fund wunderkinds. Barbara Corcoran is to Manhattan existent estate, what Abby Chief Joseph Cohen is to the stock market. It's ALWAYS the right clip to buy, and everything will ALWAYS addition in value. This type of "reporting" might be likened to a news mercantile establishment which wanted to describe on dentistry, but rather than book a dentist, it interviewed only the Tooth Fairy. "Yes, certain the dentition autumn out (I conceive of the invitee saying), but its really good news, not bad news, because they were going to fall out anyway, they fall out gradually, and you acquire paid every time!"

The consequence of all this is that much of the business-reporting mass media have go almost a propaganda factory for Wall Street and for a rise stock market. Its coverage is often small more than than spin. This is not its declared missionary post or its brief, and the point of this piece is to propose that more than attending be paid to aim concern news assemblage and dissemination.

If the folks at CNBC are fans of undomesticated animals, it might make them well to remember that the bear is one, too. And it have feelings. Anybody retrieve Winnie the Pooh? The Care Bears? The mediocre hungry babe bear who was left with no porridge because that awful Goldilocks took another spoonful every twenty-four hours on Kudlow's show?

There are people (a minority, to be sure), who are short the markets. Moreover, there are {gasp} benefits to a falling market. Opportunities are presented to purchase into equities at more than advantageous prices. There is a greater drift for entrenched direction to construct up concerns through increased gross sales and merchandise enhancement, instead of disbursement its trim currency on zero sum of money game activities such as as share redemptions and taking companies private. Declining place terms supplies chances to more than potentiality householders to derive their share of the American Dream.

The effect of this is that it looks to me that a mass media mercantile establishment purporting to describe concern news ought to make just that. I don't state that the coverage should be dry and without any amusement value. After all, evaluations are the mothers' milk of any telecasting mass media outlet. Ratings for concern news are, of course, always better in a bubbling and rising market, when every handcart seller have a portfolio that he can discourse in detail, but that makes not intend that the bad news should be censored or even downplayed. Yet grounds of prejudice for the bull is ubiquitous on CNBC and everywhere on many of its chap concern news outlets. Poor bear! Unloved and unappreciated.

People who cognize me might well state that I have got an axe to grind, too. They are certainly right, but as I am not being paid for authorship this, and CNBC is not inviting me to be its invitee anytime soon (especially now), I experience quite free to exhibit my prejudices. Oh, and by the way, in my defense, I'm for a strong America!

Warren R. Graham

Copyright 2007

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