Don't Pay Any Mind to Financial News Gurus

Financial news shouldn't be the sole source of your investment decision-making.

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Investor Marc Faber
Jonathan Fickies/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesMarc Faber, publisher of the Gloom, Boom & Doom Report, is a frequent CNBC guest.
By Daniel Solin

It has long been my view that much of what passes for "financial news" is little more than an infomercial for the securities industry. It also serves to feed the egos of self-confident pundits, who feed viewers a daily grist of musings that often include predictions about the direction of the markets, the possibility of inflation and whether interest rates are likely to rise or fall. When they are correct, which is likely around half of the time, these pundits are proclaimed gurus. When they are wrong, they have no remorse or accountability.

Some of their pronouncements are so silly you wonder how they get airtime. Art Cashin is a frequent contributor to CNBC. He recently observed that "caution is in the air." This came less than a month after his insight that the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) could "taste 1,950 points." When Cashin isn't personalizing the collective mood of millions of investors all over the world, a formidable task you may think would be a full-time job, he works as director of floor operations at the New York Stock Exchange for UBS (UBS).

Cashin's musings aren't harmless. Presumably, some viewers believe he has a special insight into the market and that his views merit some consideration.

But the fiction that Cashin can predict the unpredictable pales in comparison to the harm done to investors by the single biggest myth perpetuated by the financial media: The market hates uncertainty. How many times have you heard that phrase?

As recently as June 12, Jim Cramer stated that "if the market hates anything, it's uncertainty." Cramer, concerned about the fighting in Iraq, recommended that, for now, investors sit on the sidelines.

When markets tank, even the mainstream press attributes the cause to "uncertainty." A headline on a Sept. 20 CNN Money story stated: "Dow down nearly 200 points as uncertainty returns."

The problem with following advice based on "uncertainty" is that it causes investors to act emotionally and get in or out of the market based on the views of financial pundits. In March of 2009, the level of uncertainty was very high. Things looked pretty dim. Investors were rocked by record losses. The financial stability of our banking system was very much in doubt. The Madoff scandal eroded confidence in the integrity of the financial markets.

If you had listened to the pundits and remained on the sidelines, you missed a huge and sustained rally. From March 2009 to May 2014, the Russell 2000 index was up 213.33 percent. Clearly, the market didn't "hate" this uncertainty.

Again, there is much uncertainty in the market. An active debate is underway about whether the current bull market is likely to continue or whether a crash is imminent. Wharton School Professor of Finance Jeremy Siegel recently said told CNBC he "would not be surprised" to see the Dow Jones Industrial Average climb to over 18,000 by year-end. Marc Faber, the editor and publisher of the Gloom, Boom & Doom Report, couldn't disagree more. In April, he said on CNBC, "I think it's very likely that we're seeing, in the next 12 months, an '87 type of crash. And I suspect it will be even worse."

Investors are caught in the middle of these two conflicting views. What are they supposed to do?

Here's an easy-to-implement resolution: Ignore the financial news and the musings of the pundits. Their predictions about the future of the market are no more reliable than yours. The best indication of the status of the market is the price set by millions of traders every day. If it were "obvious" to them that the market was about to crash, stock prices would decline.

If they thought the market was going to continue its bull run, prices would increase. You can assume the current price of stocks and bonds reflects all available information. And the prices you are looking at today reflect the collective judgment of investors worldwide. They are likely to be fair.

Instead of trying to figure out which pundit is right or wrong, focus on factors you can control, such as your asset allocation, costs, fees and tax efficiency. Your decision to buy or sell stocks or bonds, once you are comfortable with your asset allocation, should be part of a regular rebalancing strategy intended to be sure your portfolio isn't too risky or too conservative for your needs.

The fear mongering over market uncertainty is designed to embellish the credentials of those making predictions. It shouldn't be used as part of an intelligent, responsible investing strategy.

Dan Solin is the director of investor advocacy for the BAM Alliance and a wealth adviser with Buckingham. He is a New York Times best-selling author of the Smartest series of books. His latest book, "The Smartest Sales Book You'll Ever Read," has just been published.


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31 Comments

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lesliedon

I love the fact he thinks you should ignore everyone on TV. Hmmmm...I guess he thinks you should read one of HIS best-selling books. He thinks he is smarter than all of the 'gurus' . It's all potluck people. You know what they say about opinions. They are like that certain part of the human anatomy, every has one. With all that the fed is doing and all of the debt that is accruing it is all uncharted territory.

July 13 2014 at 1:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
smiles41

I would add ONE thing to your headline: Ignore LIBERAL Financial News gurus...

July 10 2014 at 10:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
monsterwax

The economy contracted for the first time in decades last quarter. The spin guys are blaming the weather, but we've had much worse winters before without shrinking the economy. The stocks are being fueled by stimulus, which is scheduled to end in October. They certainly are not going up to do to a growing economy. To downplay market uncertainty would seem very questionable advice to be giving, let alone, to follow.

July 10 2014 at 2:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
quickdraw0222

In march of 2010 i put all of my wifes 401k in T ROWE PRICE I figured that all the people who busted out on there house,car and credit card and went bankrupt in 2006 - 2009 would be back at it 7 years later (hopefully with money in the bank) I put my 401k in 2055 even though i don't retire until 2029.I continually read on blogs how its pumped up by quantive easing (and it was) but now its set to take off because of consumer spending (the people i mentioned before) and because big business is sitting on a ton of cash and need to replace old equipment.(they didn't want to spend it and make Obama look good).This bull market will last at least 4 to 7 years.I will keep listening to how its the rich fat cat wall street guy getting rich and my wife (registered nurse) and I (truck driver) will be laughing all the way to the bank. If you listen to Cramer or any of these fools your listening to them selling you something and they are making money.It doesn't take a genious to see whats happening.

July 10 2014 at 12:03 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
socioeconomist1

CNBC is good to follow since a lot of people watch it... After all, stocks are 80% bank manipulated and 20% popular movement. The 20% popular movement is enough for a day trader to make some cash and having a ton of uninformed people doing what Jim Cramer tells them is a popular movement in the stock markets. I day traded for years as I gained more of an education and got to where I am now. There are just some things that are not taught in college that you either have to be an insider to learn or discover yourself. My wife says you can take some 600 level Finance classes to learn what I know... But, make no mistake about it... Stocks are propped up by the banks, and everything after that is a popularity contest by speculators. Tesla is proof that fundamentals and balance sheets have nothing to do with stock prices. I was the first person to buy TSLA on a secondary exchange at $19 a share and I sold at $35 a share before the DOE money ran out. If I knew every overpaid tech geek in the world would find religion in Tesla Motors, I would have waited for the 10 bagger. It is hard to know what millions of educated idiots are going to freak out over when you aren't one of those uneducated idiots. By uneducated, I don't mean not educated in things like computer programming.. I am referring to being uneducated in how the stock markets and finance works. As Tesla has proven... If people have blind faith that a company will change the world and be the next google, the stock will climb to $200 a share even though they lose $1 a share annually.. Even Caterpillar is favored because of it's reliability to the blue hairs. It is just one reason or another to believe in a stock that causes it to be highly valued by speculators. So, CNBC doesn't have much real value but it does create value by leading speculators to the bubble. CNBC is never the first to break the news though. I have seen news hit the wire and it take 6 months before anyone reported on it to cause a reaction in the stock markets. Shoot, Tesla took like 18 months before all the tech geeks started buying it up to inflate the stock. I was waiting 4 months for that IPO.

July 09 2014 at 8:57 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
elaineen

Beware of fund owners who give "advice" which only results in money for their own funds. I had a UBS broker who was useless. On CNBC I listened to the owner of a fund which my broker had invested my money in. He sounded foolish. I know little of the market or funds. Now that I am retired I look up the Morningstar ratings of my funds. I found out that most of the funds my broker had invested in were at the most 2 star funds. I assume he was getting more money from such funds instead of making investments which would make more money for me.

By chance I met a broker on a train who told me to weigh heavily the expense ratio of a fund.
Really an eye opener. Now I do it myself and have 3 Vanguard funds with very low expense ratios. They are also rated 5 or 4 stars. All have made money. Watching the Consuelo Mack program I learned of the Sequoia fund which has been a wise investment. In sum do some research of your own and bypass the "experts."

July 09 2014 at 8:54 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Valerie

The two good takeaways in this article are ---

1. Ignore all the useless financial "noise" written and/or broadcast on TV and the internet, about the stock market, every week. The only purpose this stuff serves is possible entertainment. It has little, if anything, to do with your personal financial situation.

2. Realize that the so-called "financial experts" are just taking their BEST GUESS at what the future will bring. They are making predictions --- and that is ALL they are doing. They may --- or may not --- be correct. (Most of the time, they are wrong.)

The writer of this article obviously favors rebalancing your stock portfolio. This subject is currently under debate in the financial world. Many well-respected people (with long-term financial experience) are now saying that it probably is better to let your stock winners run and prune out the losers --- in preference to "rebalancing" to conform to some portfolio percentage that may end up costing you money over the long term.

July 09 2014 at 8:12 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Valerie's comment
Oh Great One!

Re: #2 of your list, I like that on CNBC, they'll revisit predictions by their experts and see if they were right or wrong. I'd say more often they are wrong, but at least they own up to it. I enjoy investing, but the stock market is like a crazy woman who will jump up on a chair and start screaming at the first sign of a mouse - it doesn't behave in a logical manner, at least that's how it seems to me. And yet I'm going really great with my investments over the years, so I guess I can't complain. I agree with you, the bulk of the financial "noise" is entertainment. I mean, they have to talk about something day after day, hour after hour...

July 10 2014 at 12:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
krazyclownz

Bull crap

The best indication of the status of the market is the price set by millions of traders every day. If it were "obvious" to them that the market was about to crash, stock prices would decline.

If they thought the market was going to continue its bull run, prices would increase.

So the markets saw 2008 coming? I'm sorry, I don't think so. Everyone was in locked and loaded and the market crashed FAST

SAME THING IN EARLY 2000's....everyone was long and the market crashed

This article is utter NON SENSE

40 years in the markets

July 09 2014 at 7:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to krazyclownz's comment
socioeconomist1

You don't have a clue.... You just think you do. When China stopped buying raw materials and shipping them from places like Brazil, the banks were emptied of their cash reserves and a stimulus package had to be created to liquidate the economy. That is why the BDI went from 14,000 to 325 in a year's time. I was following shipping in 2007 and 2008, and knew the dry freight fleet was going to double by 2010.. So, when the buying came to a screeching halt, I saw it before the stock markets did. So, there are indicators out there if you happen to be looking at them when they go off.

July 09 2014 at 8:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
moonmur1

Gurus get paid for talking. If they said "I don't have a clue, they wouldn't get paid. I do think Cramer is more often right than wrong.

July 09 2014 at 6:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to moonmur1's comment
Oh Great One!

I did very well with two Cramer recommendations - MUX and NPSP, both of which I've sold off since at a lovely profit. So, yeah, can't complain. Not saying he's always right or even mostly right, but those worked for me.

July 10 2014 at 12:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Oh Great One!'s comment
Oh Great One!

Oh geez, not MUX (McEwen Mining, ugh) - MU - Micron Technology, which I still have, currently at 130.85% of my initial investment.

July 10 2014 at 12:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down
foxylynx

I liken Jim Cramer to a carnival hacker - all they do is fill air time with a bunch of smoke and mirrors. I keep myself protected by having stop losses on my stocks - this way I can sleep at night. I love the oil and gas sector, but know that they can have wild swings up or down - one thing for sure - the world is not going to be using less of the stuff any time soon.

July 09 2014 at 5:25 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply