With the stock market still merrily rolling through its gut-wrenching days, I need my 8 hours of sleep more than ever these days. For that reason, it’s usually “lights out” in my house before 11:00 PM.
But not last night.
I was more than willing to give up a few winks to watch The Daily Show to see Jon Stewart take on Jim Cramer. Terrific late-night theater.
For the record, I’m not a huge Cramer fan, stemming from some limited interaction I had with him when I wrote for TheStreet.com. But whether he succeeds or not, I do think he genuinely tries to do a good job for his readers and viewers.
Cramer is renowned for being loud, brash, and boisterous. So it was astonishing to see him sitting there like a scolded child, with none of his usual bravado.
He certainly deserves credit for having the guts to show up - it couldn’t have been easy for him. Earlier this week, he even wrote that he was “scared.” And it was pretty evident. It looked to me like he’d come straight from an all-day crisis management media training session, where he was told to apologize, not act defensive, and promise to do better next time.
I’m a big fan of The Daily Show, but in this case, I felt Jon Stewart’s wrath was completely misplaced…
You Want Me To Be Responsible? But That’s No Fun…
We’ve all been offered lots of things that seem great at the time… but which really aren’t good for us. For example, if a friend offers me a double shot of Jameson’s at 2:00 AM, I (usually) have the sense to turn it down.
Whether we’re talking about a shot of whisky, a second helping of dessert, or a zero-down, interest-only mortgage, people have to take responsibility for their decisions and live with the consequences.
Some folks might respond by asking: So why were lenders offering $600,000 mortgages to people who were making $25,000 a year?
Blame the system and the lenders. The system rewarded lenders who made risky loans, which could then be packaged up, given an “AAA” rating and sold off to unwitting investors. Many legitimate institutional investors got burned, thinking they were buying safe securities, when in fact they were junk. And it was the ability to package those loans and sell them off that made it so easy to offer loans to people who clearly could not handle them.
Quite frankly, those ratings agencies are as responsible as anyone for the mess we’re in and it’s mind-boggling that S&P and Moody’s are still able to operate.
But regardless of the systemic issues that led to the financial collapse and the undoubted fact that some on Wall Street behaved badly and contributed to this debacle, most of the fault also lies with homeowners and consumers who became over-extended. If so many people hadn’t got in over their heads, all those loans wouldn’t have turned to junk. Just because you’re offered a $600,000 mortgage doesn’t mean you have to take it.
Nobody Likes A Monday Morning Quarterback
It’s all too easy now for Jon Stewart and others to point fingers while shouting, “You should have known. You should have warned us.” But few were complaining while the party was raging and people were bragging about the killings they were making in the real estate market.
I can’t believe more of us didn’t know that real estate was a speculative bubble when lawyers were quitting their jobs to flip houses and 22-year old mortgage brokers were making six figures. We knew. We just didn’t want it to end.
And when the wheels fall off the party bus, we all want someone to blame.
But in this situation, there were many moving parts. The financial media was certainly played a role, but pointing fingers at CNBC and the rest of the media is misdirected.
Don’t get me wrong… I’m not a CNBC apologist. I can’t stand the direction that the network has taken lately. I really don’t care about their anchors’ opinions, because the majority of them are career journalists. They’ve never actually walked the walk.
So if you want some real clarification…
Tune Out The Talking Heads… Tune Into Accuracy And Profits
There are many sources I turn to for balanced, in-depth, accurate reporting, backed up with real facts, not just throwaway opinions.
In fact, you’re reading one of them right now.
My colleagues Karim Rahemtulla and Lee Lowell are two of the foremost stock market and options experts in the country. After a decade on the trading floor of the NYMEX, Lee “retired” at 31.
And not only do he and Karim write for the Smart Profits Report, you’ll also find their analysis and recommendations in the Xcelerated Profits Report newsletter and their trading services. Visit this link for a full list of our investment services. I’ll take their read on the market over Michelle Carusso-Cabrera’s any day.
And if you want a more technical take, backed up by real numbers and time-tested analysis, check out Jim Stanton’s work. He’s as sharp a technical analyst as I know. As a card-carrying member of the Market Technician’s Association for many years, I know a lot of technical analysts!
And considering that two of the greatest contrarian investors in recent decades trained me while I was an analyst at a highly regarded boutique research firm, I’ll rely on my own instincts over anyone I see on TV.
The bottom line is that it’s time for the public and investors to stop looking for culprits and instead focus their attention on getting themselves into a better spot. There are lots of tools and resources to help, whether they come from us or others. But you have to go out and get it. You can’t expect Maria et al. to spoon-feed it to you. If you do, you will surely starve.
Have a great weekend.