Just as shamans have been consulted throughout time to provide the desperate and gullible with prophecies, so too are financial shamans (often masquerading as experts) are looked to for comforting myths about market direction.
Of course, we can and should prepare for the many possible market eventualities by looking at the data and trading trends, but to expect anyone to be able to provide absolute predictions for the future is absurd. The truth is that we do not know for sure, and anyone that tells you they do know might as well be gazing into a crystal ball.
Today’s episode looks at the various attitudes and beliefs concerning the falsehood of market predictability. Michael Covel runs the commentary, drawing a narrative thread through various excerpts from some of the most prominent economic and financial thinkers.
In this episode of Trend Following Radio:
Recognizing when you are being misled by the experts
What to look for in trend analysis and what to be wary of
Considering bubbles and other unpredictable global factors in the markets
Finding an objective approach to investing based on quantifiable information
Considering timeless human investment psychology elements
Making investment decisions without being blinded by rigid economic processes or political ideologies
“It’s mind numbing to study financial history, because it is so repetitive: we do the exact same things over and over. We have followed this pattern in every major bubble, starting with the coin mania in the Roman empire.” – John Galbraith
My point is not that mass-mediated financial advice is kinda like professional wrestling. My point is that mass-mediated financial advice is EXACTLY like professional wrestling. And I know that it must seem like I’m slamming Cramer and CNBC and the rest of the mass media financial guru-sphere by equating their efforts with professional wrestling, but I’m really not. I just want to call things by their proper names. I LOVE professional wrestling. Second only to professional politics, professional wrestling demonstrates Narrative creation and execution at an extremely high level of artistry, with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake. And it’s NOT a fake representation of wrestling in the way that an episode of “Marcus Welby, M.D.” is a fake representation of medical practice. Professional wrestling is scripted and choreographed, like a TV medical drama, but there are actual athletic feats executed here. It is “real wrestling” in that sense, where there is no “real medicine” being practiced in the filming of “House”. But no one in his right mind believes that professional wrestling is the same thing as Olympic wrestling or collegiate wrestling. Professional wrestling is its own thing – a marvelous and entertaining thing – and it deserves to be understood in that light. Well … mass-mediated financial advice is its own thing, too, where Narrative creation and execution is the only thing that matters, and everything you see or read is driven by the economic diktat of driving the Narrative du jour forward. No one in his right mind should believe that mass-mediated financial advice is the same thing as professional, individuated financial advice. And yet here we are, in a world where the notion of trust has become so warped that every day, thousands of investors question the trustworthiness of their flesh-and-blood financial advisors and tens of thousands more act on their own because they trusted a piece of Narrative-driven advice they heard on the TV or read in the newspaper. Why is it so important to distinguish between real people and mass media representations of people when it comes to matters of trust? Because in the wise words of J.K. Rowling, never trust anything that thinks for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.
In April of 2010 this guy wrote me about my critique of Jim Cramer (he was reading intro to my 2nd book?). Almost a year has passed with no contact and now today this ditty comes rolling in from Dave Loevner:
I have so far skimmed the information you have to offer, and intend to go back, and read verbatim. What bothers me specifically about you, and certainly not your material is your opinion of me. Obviously, with the fact that I do watch Mad Money w/ Jim Cramer makes me an idiot. Why do you waste energy slamming someone else when, that energy could be used more productively? Why even bring up Jim Cramer when you have so much to offer? Put the energy there. Every time I see your name on the internet, it’s never about you, and what you have to offer. It’s you, slamming Jim Cramer. Much rather hear more of what you have to offer. Are you so filled with jealousy over not having a TV show that, you have reduced yourself to this playground nonsense? That was rhetorical, only asking that you give yourself an honest answer. You have value, and much to give but, not because, in your opinion Jim Cramer doesn’t. Knock it off, and focus on the information you have to offer. Yes, I enjoy Mad Money. One thing Jim Cramer emphasizes is, due diligence! I take him at his word as he has been wrong more than once. He emphasizes that because he, admits he has been wrong. It is entertaining to me, and I do get some valuable information to at least enable me to continue looking at the market. I have learned much on analyzing my market activity. I intend to learn more from you, as well but, it is difficult learning from someone who thinks I’m an idiot, and focuses so negatively on someone else. Both of you have different styles but, much to offer. When you finally free yourself from focusing so negatively on someone else, and referring to me as an idiot perhaps, I can feel a little better about reading your material word for word. Hopefully, you will move forward with an emphasis on you, and your work. Thank you, Dave Loevner
Let me get this straight Dave, you don’t want to read about trend following because a small part of my job is to slam your boy Cramer? I recommend sticking with him. Working with lost clients is not my cup of tea. Here are two more shows to add to your watch list: 1 and 2. When done there start at about the 27:00 minute mark here.
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