Media Frets and Warns – So, We Can Be Optimistic

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Danger signAs is typical when a growth trend evolves out of dark times, the media simply cannot get in sync. Because negative news titillates – and sells – it’s so hard to give it up. Today’s good news reports regularly have concerns and warnings tacked onto them. For stock investors, that means opportunity.

Here is an example of media waffling…

Existing home sales came in higher than expected. The Wall Street Journal couldn’t simply report that important fact. (Actually, they left out the “higher than expected” part that drove the market higher. They simply reported the number.) Here is their lead paragraph for this front-page story (“Home Sales, Prices Brighten”; 12/23; page A-1):

“New data on home sales and prices provided fresh signs of a stabilizing housing market, but a continuing flood of foreclosures and the eventual withdrawal of government life support threaten that trend.”

“But” is used elsewhere in the article for corollary pieces of good news, along with a “meanwhile,” “for now” and “even so.” There is also some cherry picking of numbers – for example, tacking on the Case-Shiller 12-month house price drop to the positive trend fact.

That use of “but” is not exclusive to The Wall Street Journal. It is everywhere, and that is good. It means the market’s tone going into next week, while upbeat, has a worry factor – just the thing to provide us some buying opportunities.

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December 2009