It’s time to short sky-is-falling news

From a column by David Carr appearing in Tuesday’s New York times:

“When everyone is talking about recession, we all feel like something has to change, even if nothing has changed for us,” said Dan Ariely, author of “Predictably Irrational,” a book that explains why people do things that defy explanation. “The media messages that are repeating doom and gloom affect every one, not just people who really have trouble and should make changes, but people who are fine. That has a devastating effect on the economy.”

From a post by Thomas Nelson CEO Michael Hyatt:

“I don’t know about you, but this is not having a healthy impact on my psyche. Last night, after waking up again at 3:30 in the morning, I thought, Enough is enough. I don’t need the additional worry and fear that this is creating. It’s time to turn off the news. I’m not sticking my head in the sand. I understand that we have a significant economic problem. But, in my opinion, the news media are exacerbating this problem with their reporting. They are systematically undermining consumer confidence. This is a case where reporting the news is actually causing the news. The truth is that I can’t fix the global economy. As a result, the bad economic news is a waste of my time and energy. I need to be focused on what I can do to improve the performance of my own company and our industry. This means focusing on the future and forgetting the immediate past.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a similar frustration I feel:

“I didn’t live through the Great Depression, but I can say this: Those guys were lucky CNBC didn’t exist. The illogic of the market — especially when it becomes disconnected from reality and reason — is not something that can be covered like the weather. But everything CNBC has become was learned by watching the Weather Channel spend five days tracking a hurricane from the Ivory Coast or Anderson Cooper holding onto a tree while 150 mph wind is blowing his body horizonal. Knowing the audience could grow bored, the approaching storm must be hyped into a category 5 direct hit on a major city — the worst hurricane of the past 100 years — before anyone will tune in. That’s how CNBC is covering “the financial crisis.” Has CNBC signed a deal with LLBean yet for survival gear?

And from the Wall Street Journal day, this quote from a story about the “hunt for the stock market bottom”:

“Even measured conservatively, stocks are the least expensive they have been in 21 years.”

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That last quote, the one about the stock market: I have absolutely no idea about opportunities in the stock market.

However, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that my desire to have up-to-the-moment knowledge of what the ridiculously failed experts are predicting about the future of the economy has fallen to its lowest level ever.

  • It’s all so true. I’ve been thinking the same thing for several weeks. The election is over, and the media has nothing new to talk about, so they are talking about this incessantly. The groupthink on the part of the media is stunning. It almost [but not quite] makes you wish it was hurricane season or something.

  • Hudge

    I’m reading a book called “A Splendid Exchange” about the history of trade. The author, Wm. Bernstein, made an interesting observation in the preface – with plenty there is often tragedy. Sometimes for the people with plenty, more often with some other group. He also makes some interesting comments about the mean and the median – stats being your favorite media whipping boy, Rex, this made me think of you.