Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Breaking News

The breaking news is that there is no breaking news!

CNBC does it. The Wall Street Journal (digital edition) does it. Fox News does it too. It's the breaking news story.

Most of the time it isn't breaking news, but news that we know is coming. It is expected. It isn't breaking. A good example are the government data releases, like unemployment numbers and CPI, that occur almost daily at 8:30 a.m EST. From CNBC's perspective the purpose of these data points is not for thoughtful analysis of the current economic situation but as a number that can make the stock market "pop" 2%. CNBC may discuss "the number" but in general, if it is a "bad number" -one that does not cause the market to rise - it is quickly forgotten and the search for the next market popping story is quickly sought.

And why are breaking news stories generally bullish? Or why don't we see more bearish breaking news stories? These stories are just reported as the news.

I find that the breaking news stories are coming with greater and greater frequency these days, and I often wonder if it isn't a function of the bear market. The story on the ground seems rather bleak. Unemployment is rising, confidence is falling, and uncertainty is high and rising. However, the breaking news story offers hope. There is the hope that things are getting better (although we all know that one data point doesn't make a trend). There is the hope that our elected officials will "save" us and the economy. Can anyone say, "Tarp 2, Tarp 3, Tarp4"? I am not sure why this offers hope that our stewards of the economy will now get it right. We are told that it must be even though the last umteenth interventions didn't work. Oh less we forget, the same folks who were watching the candy store before this mess began are still behind the counter !!! Doesn't anyone ever question this?

The real story, as always, is somewhere in between the hope of the bulls and the reality of the bears. Yesterday, the bulls served up a good bit of hope. The government is going to buy bad assets from the banks and in the process save us and save the economy, etc. Why this was breaking news I am not sure. This was expected. But that was the spin, and this is what got the bulls all whipped again. The ball is now in the bears' court and in all likelihood, they will be serving up a good dose of reality. The ball will then be back in the bulls' court.

Back and forth they go, where they stop no one knows.

I suspect that the bottom for the stock market and the end of our economic malaise are somewhere off in the future. The breaking news story will no longer be breaking news as all hope will have been squashed.

2 comments:

TraderMark said...

This morning on Fox Business first thing at 6 AM was breaking news that amazon beat earnings

that was very informative... for anyone asleep the previous 14 hours

p.s. is this similar to your smart money tracker?

http://valueplays.blogspot.com/2009/01/reader-response-to-my-pessimism.html#comments

Guy M. Lerner said...

Hi TM: I know who Don Hayes is but I don't know how he tracks the SmartMoney. Sorry about that.