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3 O'Clock High: Stock Tips from Newsmags & Mailbags


"The important thing is that Vitaliy never gives up Hope (that the nickname is changed)"


Journalistic Fluffing

I'm not generally given to anger towards the financial media. I figure it's a karmic foul on several fronts: a) I'm kinda part of the financial media b) I realize stocks and markets are hard and being "horribly wrong" is part of the game c) I have yet to actually meet anyone involved with financial media who is truly stupid, evil, a corporate shill or any of the other labels most often used.

I think the agenda of a CEO who goes on television is to make himself and his company look good. I assume a fund manager on television will have a favorable view regarding the stocks he owns and/or the sector in which he invests. Television producers, it seems to me, are attempting to generate a broad audience.

It's hard to make a case that these respective agendas are in any way "hidden". They are selling something, which is why they're on TV (NB: When I do TV, I'm "selling" Minyanville/ Me; since both are pretty much all about snarky candor the job comes rather easily.)

By analogy, tonight at some point, I will receive a phone call from a person wondering why on earth I haven't re-financed my home to take advantage of these historic low rates.

There's a greater than 95% chance that I will hang-up (or ask them to remove me from their list then hang-up). Depending on my mood at the time, I may also tease the caller about his profession and/or offer him some totally unsolicited feedback on his selling technique ("William... gotta tell you... I'm really not feeling just how much you want me to seize this opportunity...").

What I won't do is rail on the caller for "lying" to me or explain to him why these may or may not be historic rates but, more importantly, his work as a phone solicitor is contributing to the most insidious threat to our American economy in the housing bubble.

Beyond the caller probably being in Bangladesh (and thus presumably ambivalent, at best, about America's housing bubble) he's a salesperson. Of course he's spinning his information to his own benefit; that's his job.

Sometimes folks on TV and other salespeople lie, often they are wrong and they may or may not be very bright. As a general truth, they have an agenda, much like anyone else you'd encounter in a work setting. To me it makes more sense to regard the teletubbies case by case, just as one would with any other group of people.

And, of course, I have an obvious agenda in making the above case.

"If you haven't got anything nice to say, come sit next to me!" Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Of course, when a guy writes a widely read column for a respected newsmagazine and writes a nakedly biased piece of fluff with the potential to cost honest people a lot of money, I make exceptions to my Self-Serving PeaceNick Media Policy.

I've made fun of it before but today, with General Motors (GM) down over $2, it's worth putting a little more stank on the observation that "GM Discount for Kerkorian? Nope." by Allan Sloan in the September 19th edition of Newsweek was an outrage.

It's everything wrong with mainstream financial media. It defers to an Oz-like powerful mind (Kerkorian) without question, it fails to offer even a single counter-explanation for Kerkorian's motivations in bidding for GM at $35 and it pretends as though GM's stock is somehow "safe" for the presence of Oz.

GM was over $31 when the piece ran (already more than 10% from Kirk's bid!). It's in the $26 area today. Anyone who tried to chase Kerkorian into GM is underwater.

Columns like Sloan's are exactly why it's so imperative to understand the other side of the trade. More than that, the existence of garbage of that sort in mainstream press is exactly why Minyanville exists.

Since I'm already greased up and ready to fight...

Minyan Kneel writes:

Thanks for answering my question about World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) moving Raw to the USA Network but doesn't a column like that have an audience of one (two, counting yourself)?


The Hollywood Reporter item from October 5th entitled "USA Unleashes 'Raw' power in Monday Night Return" notes: "Raw drew 6-million... in the two-hour block it has occupied for the past decade. By way of comparison, Spike TV drew 2-million fewer viewers for Raw last week. (SpikeTV's UFC counter-programming drew under 2-million)."

So, I guess that makes the audience size about 6,000,002.

"Your Delta Tau Chi name is... Pinto!"

As befitting his wise, unflappable nature, loyal friendship and retail wisdom, Prof. Vitaliy's official name is hereby: "Red".

Morgan Freeman will be playing him in the movie version of Minyanville.

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No positions in stocks mentioned.

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