Recently, I have been trying to increase my presence on social media. Tools such as Buffer make this very easy to do. Whenever I am on a webpage and come across a financial article of interest, I just click on the Buffer icon on my browser and I am able to add a comment that is simultaneously sent at scheduled times to my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. I realize to many of you this may sound like the fascination expressed by the first President Bush when he encountered a grocery store scanner, but it was a revelation to me.
What surprised me even more was how much of what passes for "financial news" is self-serving or ill-founded, often with no support, and even misleading. I selected these examples from many possibilities:
An Article About Saving Hedge Funds
This article discusses how hedge funds could be "saved" by new rules permitting them to advertise. A colleague of mine once observed that hedge funds "are for stupid rich people." Now they will be made available to gullible investors across the board. A responsible article would have discussed "saving" investors from hedge funds.
An Article Extolling Technical Analysis
This article extolls the virtues of a technical trade pattern, one that "almost never fails" according to the headline. The author noted, "I also want to admit that my Sept. 10 article on the equity put/call ratio showed a bearish extreme, which was supposed to lead to lower prices." He had a ready explanation for why that prediction was wrong. Why investors pay any attention to "technical patterns" eludes me.
Cramer "Anoints" Some Industrials
CNBC's Jim Cramer continues to foster the absurd belief that he has some special insight into stock picking. He tells his hapless viewers that he believes Wall Street will "anoint" designated industrials in the weeks ahead. Of course, this is errant nonsense. I have seen no credible evidence that Cramer's stock picks are better than those of a monkey throwing a dart at a board.
Investing in Gold
Predictions About the Direction of the Market
Brian Belski, the chief investment strategist at BMO Capital Markets, opines that the S&P 500 may go to 1,900 now that the Federal Reserve has decided to not taper its asset purchasing program. He is correct. It might go to 1,900. Then again, it might not. Why is his musing about the direction of the market of any value? No one knows tomorrow's news. Even worse, the market has an uncanny way of acting unpredictably to that news, often going up on "bad" news and down on "good" news.
It's no wonder that 80 percent of individual investors continue to try to "beat the market," notwithstanding the daunting odds of doing so. They don't understand the emperors quoted in these articles have no clothes.
Dan Solin is the director of investor advocacy for the BAM ALLIANCE and a wealth adviser with Buckingham Asset Management. He is a New York Times best-selling author of the Smartest series of books. His next book, The Smartest Sales Book You'll Ever Read, will be published March 3, 2014.
The views of the author are his alone and may not represent the views of his affiliated firms. Any data, information and content on this blog is for information purposes only and should not be construed as an offer of advisory services.