I wanted to write a quick post today to remind you of something. You already know this, but it’s an easy thing to forget:
IGNORE THE TALKING HEADS.
Radio and TV news anchors choose their interviewees in a very intentional way. When a politician says something that enflames the other side of the aisle, the next comment will almost always be with someone from the offended side. Rarely will they bring in the level-headed explanation from the same side that made the comment. Rarely will they try to put out the flames.
When a flood hits an area and causes great devastation, the interview will typically be someone who in the past has sounded the alarm that if we don’t fix that levy or if the old dam isn’t repaired, there’ll be heck to pay. The “I told you so” makes better drama than the reasoned explanation.
Sometimes it’s good for us. Our freedom of speech keeps people honest. Quite often journalists really do help us by finding the truth when no one else is motivated to do it. I like journalism when it’s honest and in the best interest of those who will interact with it. But honesty and the interest of others are not usually what drive headlines.
It is no different for market declines—like the one we had on Wednesday, June 1. The DOW dropped by more than 250 points that day. Up until then all you were hearing were positive comments from bullish pundits. But on Wednesday, the database got scoured for all those bear-market guests who could be mustered to the phones. We’ve heard a lot of I-told-you-so’s since.
When the market is down that much in one day, the talking heads have no answer because they don’t know how markets work. They don’t understand that bear markets are temporary events and that the market always rises in the long term. They just call someone who will talk for a while and sound really smart and, most importantly, keep you through the next commercial segment.
If it still makes you nervous, do this: Recognize that in the last 100 years of hype the free market has produced amazing results! Then shut off the hype.