Why Would You Believe the Financial Media News?

Complete and utter claptrap. It’s really getting quite annoying. Greg Canavan reckons it’s ‘just like in 2006’ – nobody knows what’s really going on.

Whether it’s data, surveys or opinions, all the information being pumped out in the financial media news is complete gobbledygook. But that doesn’t stop anyone from churning it out. The results are enough to make you go cross eyed.

Here’s a sample of a month’s worth of data and opinions from the media which prove facts are about as objective as toilet paper preferences:

The Sydney Morning Herald quotes Barclays economist Kieran Davies: ‘The stage is set for a solid recovery in housing. Affordability is now about as good as it has been over the past 30 years…’

But on the housing affordability index, you only have to go back 3 years to find better affordability. Then there’s the ABC with their headline ‘Housing unaffordable across the board’. And according to Demographia’s annual survey, ‘Australia second only to Hong Kong in housing unaffordability stakes.’

Confused? The Barclays economist isn’t finished yet: ‘Loans to investors are climbing at their fastest pace since 2003…’ The RBA points out that ‘Home loan growth weakest in 36 years.’ And ‘Housing credit grew by 4.9 per cent in the year to July – the weakest annual growth rate since the Reserve Bank began tracking home loan activity in 1976.’

If we can’t figure out the affordability and lending side of things, what about savings? The Herald Sun claims ‘… consumers continue to squirrel away their income, with growth in deposits exceeding growth in lending for the 21st consecutive month.’ But at the same time, the SMH reports ‘Australians are abandoning banks and ploughing their savings instead into real estate and the sharemarket.’

Speaking of the share market, what can we expect from our stocks next year?

‘UBS analyst Abby Macnish expects the S&P/ASX 200 to be 8 per cent higher’ while ‘the Australian strategist for Nomura, Tim Rocks, said the market would likely be sitting about 4200 points – representing a fall of 8 per cent.’

It’s all down to China, you see. Australian shares depend on the Chinese economy. So how is the Chinese economy going? Both ways, according to Sober Look blog and the Australian:

‘The economy’s recent strength, highlighted by a rising inflation rate,’ while, ‘Inflation rate seems to be at the lowest level since early 2010.’

China Inflation Rate
Source: Tradingeconomics.com

Taking the obfuscation cake is this statement in the Australian: ‘… the results renewed fears that China’s economy could be headed for trouble, despite recent signs of a strengthening.’

Huh? Weakening or strengthening, which is it?

There’s more: ‘The equities market had been trading strongly ahead of the data, but the release of China’s trade numbers prompted sentiment to weaken immediately.’

Make up your mind! Katy Perry explains the Chinese economy in her song ‘Hot N Cold‘:

‘You change your mind Like a girl changes clothes
Yeah you PMS Like a bitch, I would know
And you overthink Always speak cryptically
I should know That you’re no good for me

”Cause you’re hot then you’re cold You’re yes then you’re no
You’re in then you’re out You’re up then you’re down
You’re wrong when it’s right It’s black and it’s white
We fight, we break up We kiss, we make up

‘You! You don’t really want to stay, no
You! But you don’t really want to go-o
You’re hot then you’re cold You’re yes then you’re no
You’re in then you’re out You’re up then you’re down’

It’s not just China and Australia that economists are struggling with. Nobody can agree on Japan’s economy either.

Sober Look‘s headline is ‘Japan officially in recession’ while the Australian is still worrying whether there might be a recession: ‘Japan has confirmed that the world’s third-largest economy shrunk in the three months to September, fueling fears the country is slipping into a recession.’

So how can you be in a recession if you’re still slipping into it? We’re not sure, but Shuichi Obata, senior economist at Nomura Securities in Tokyo, can top both claims. He explained that the coming recession that Japan is already in is also already over: ‘It’s likely that Japan’s economy hit bottom in the last quarter,’ he said.

Bloomberg clears up part of the confusion with this confusing fact: ‘A technical recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction. Japanese recessions are officially defined by a government-charged panel that considers data beyond figures for GDP.’

Ah, a government panel, that’s why it makes no sense.

In Germany, they can’t figure out recessions either.

‘While German growth is expected to cool off through the rest of the year, investors think the country will be spared an outright recession,’ according to ZEW director Wolfgang Franz.

CBS News got a little confused itself while trying to confuse the optimistic investors:

‘Germany, engine of Europe, faces looming recession.

‘A recession – defined as two consecutive quarters of shrinking gross domestic product – has likely already started in Germany.’

Once again, a country is facing something that has already started, while investors reckon it won’t happen at all.

Germany’s central bank jumped in on the befuddlement with a complete contradiction: ‘The Bundesbank cut its growth forecast for the nation and said that Europe’s most successful economy is likely to enter a recession next year…. it emphasized that Germany’s economy is fundamentally in “good shape”‘.

Ah yes, the good shape of a recession. Maybe Germany is overweight…

Enjoying all this recession confusion? Check out this video.

If you’d like to add to our growing collection of bizarre contradictory media stories, send any you find to letters@marketsandmoney.com.au. Whether it’s the mining boom that is already over but needs to be taxed, or the housing shortage that wasn’t, we’d love to hear it.

Hopefully you realise just how ridiculous the financial media is. There are three things you should keep in mind when you read the financial news.

  1. At some point, the opposite will be true. No matter what the claim is, at some point it will be ‘disproven’ by a new story.
  2. Facts and data can be interpreted in any way. That’s why there are so many employed economists.
  3. Your investment strategy cannot be based on what you read. It has to be based on what you think. In other words, you have to be able to form that investment strategy without any influence from current affairs. Otherwise you’ll be changing it all the time. That’s what gets inexperienced investors into trouble.

By the way, Greg may have said that nobody knows what’s really going on, but that hasn’t stopped him from figuring what’s going to happen. As he puts it, ‘the fuse is lit’. Find out where it leads here.

Until next week,

Nickolai Hubble.
Markets and Money Weekend Edition

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Nick Hubble
Nick Hubble is a feature editor of Markets and Money and editor of The Money for Life Letter. Having gained degrees in Finance, Economics and Law from the prestigious Bond University, Nick completed an internship at probably the most famous investment bank in the world, where he discovered what the financial world was really like. He then brought his youthful enthusiasm and energy to Port Phillip Publishing, where, instead of telling everyone about Markets and Money, he started writing for it. To follow Nick's financial world view more closely you can you can subscribe to Markets and Money for free here. If you’re already a Markets and Money subscriber, then we recommend you also join him on Google+. It's where he shares investment research, commentary and ideas that he can't always fit into his regular Markets and Money emails.

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2 Comments on "Why Would You Believe the Financial Media News?"

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Confused? C’mon Nick you’re better than that. You’ve done exactly what you claim other journo’s (not media which is a vehicle for journo’s/commentators) are doing, confusing the reader. It is quite plausible that the stage is indeed set for a housing recovery. You’d have to admit property prices are relatively low just about everywhere. And even if it isn’t yet low enough to create a recovery it is just as likely to happen as is an ongoing malaise or retreat. The Barklays commentator is also probably correct in that “loans to investors are climbing at there fastest pace”. It just… Read more »

Hi Nick,
You are spot on! I have been reading
The Age and Herald for years. Couldn’t agree more
with your comments. The facts are there, and it depends
on the writer how spins the story.

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