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Kim Zussman

6/21/05
Media, Media, Media, by Kim Zussman

Often while driving I listen to KNX, a local AM station which has a Business Hour program. Usually the topics relate to stock sectors, asset allocation, personal finance; likely useful information for most listeners. Recently the emphasis has shifted to "the housing bubble", and today a UCLA economist claimed that California housing is 30% over-priced.

I was less interested in the content than the content of the interest. Perhaps these are the lazy days of summer, with stocks flat for the year and breezes sans anthrax spores. Leaving talking heads and hungry ears worrying about which asset classes are most inflated.

The first foray into counting was 4-years ago when subscribing to Louis Rukeyser's Wall $treet. He claimed journalistic access to the best and brightest analysts and managers, and (for a slight fee) would pass this onto us readers (who would not trust a man who is pictured on 1$ bill). Each issue contained a list of stocks and mutual funds picked previously, along with performance since selection. Only I noticed that with some frequency stocks were dropped for various reasons. Using back issues it became clear that only losers were dropped, and performance including them was worse than indexes of my own.

A second foray was monitoring the dart-throwing contest in WSJ, originally suggested by random walker Burton Malkiel. However it seemed inconsistent with theory that managers were beating the darts. So I emailed the good professor M, who kindly replied that manager out-performance was the announcement effect and it would disappear if performance were measured from a day after publication.

Barron's was better than Rukeyser; with more in-depth econospeak, and favored companies popped nicely on Monday. (Investment thesis: a spy at Dow Jones publications to leak the picks on Friday).

A Semiotic Spec adds:

Every day, pretty much without fail, the first thing I see in the morning is the cnn.com front page, and its primary image and headline are of a bombing in Iraq, with a couple of US deaths.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the motivation for the low-level violence by the anti forces in Iraq is simply to keep bloody images in the US press every day, in the hope the US public will do what it did in Vietnam: leave the innocents to be slaughtered.

I believe this is obvious, upon reflection, and that the US press knows this, and is a willing accomplice. They would willingly, indeed gladly, see a return to mass murder in Iraq, and a ratcheting-up of terror against US targets, to weaken W and bring the Democrats back to power.

This is, of course, widely believed on the right. But, given the death spiral of MSM ratings/circulation, this notion seems to be seeping out into the broader population.