I watch a lot of business TV. I mostly watch BNN, because I like the Canadian focused content and because Catherine Murray is a total babe. I like watching Market Call too, where the network invites fund managers on to talk about individual stocks. I also watch a bit of CNBC, although never Jim Cramer, because he is a loud, obnoxious moron. (Jim’s first book, Confessions of a Street Addict, is actually quite good.) I’d watch Fox Business, but the damn CRTC doesn’t want me to ogle Liz Claman, obviously. Bastards.
While watching the aforementioned Catherine last night, I noticed a headline on BNN’s ticker. I didn’t take a picture or anything, but here’s the gist of it.
Price of oil unlikely to fall further: OPEC prez
I read that and immediately burst out laughing. If you would have been around, you would have looked at me like I was a weirdo. You’d probably already look at me like that, but I digress.
On the surface, you’d think the president of OPEC is a pretty good guy to predict oil prices. After all, his contacts control about 50% of the world supply of the stuff. He’d know his numbers, as well as knowing the oil business inside and out. Hell, I’m sure he bleeds oil. Or maybe he poops oil. I’m not exactly sure.
But, here’s the deal. Of course the president of OPEC is going to be bullish on the price of oil. His business is oil. If the price of oil is up, things are good for OPEC. Most of his job involves going around and telling people how awesome oil is. I’m betting he doesn’t drive a Prius.
How many times can you remember the head of some industry group being interviewed to talk about their industry? Media outlets invite people who work for ReMax or for the Canadian Real Estate Association on all the time to talk about the real estate market. Surprisingly, they’re always bullish. Mutual fund managers will never suggest you retreat to cash or to safer investments, even though the underlying fundamentals may dictate it. How many years did big tobacco deny any association with lung cancer?
Fox News is basically a punchline at this point. Everybody knows what you’re gonna get when you tune in. Fox knows this best of all, and they specifically cater their broadcast to further confirm their viewers’ beliefs. They are unapologetically right wing, so are their viewers. This might be fine when you’re looking to further your political beliefs, but it’s not okay when you’re researching investments.
As part of my extensive research, I always try to find bearish opinions of the stock I’m looking at. Usually I’ll figure out any warts the company has long before hand, but I still seek out other people’s opinions. Sometimes I dismiss these opinions, other times somebody will make a terrific point that I hadn’t yet considered. Yes, I’ll consider the source, but usually any biases are pretty clear.
So remember, look at the source of your information. If the talking head has an obvious agenda, take their advice with a grain of salt. Except for when they tell you to eat delicious potato chips. Don’t think about that, just blindly do it.