Various Musings: ISM, Hair, Taxis, etc.

Just a bunch of things I’ve been scratching my head about in a day full of noise and running around:

… Why do guests go on financial TV shows only to say that retail investors shouldn’t do anything in response to all good or bad news on financial TV? What’s the point? People who aren’t interested in the market’s day-to-day movements aren’t watching live financial television anyway, by definition.

… How did the ISM report leak today? Did the ISM folks leak their report because they knew it leaked, or because they thought it leaked? If the latter, did they make themselves the leakers?

… How is that a taxi driver in New York doesn’t know where the Waldorf Astoria is, and confuses it with Astoria Boulevard on the way to La Guardia? How is that possible?

… From a brief survey I conducted today of CNBC on-air personalities, they only get two kinds of email: Political rants, and good/bad hair critiques. As one on-air person put it to me, there’s a psychology study in there somewhere.

… Am I the only one who thought the ISM report today was good bad news? It was bad because it much weaker than expected, but it was good because only someone in soul-crushing denial could maintain a posture of saying we aren’t in recession. We can finally stop arguing about the current economic situation, which is crummy, and look ahead to what the Fed cuts’ impacts will be 6-12 months out.


  1. Ever experienced the joys of a Toronto taxi driver? I once had to explain to one of them how to get to the airport from downtown.

  2. Could you DEFINE a retail investor, just for the benefit of the audience? Are they not allowed to watch TV? I mean, not even at lunch, maybe they can’t work night jobs or 2nd shift?
    Maybe a LIMO driver has a better shot at knowing where the Waldorf Astoria is? I would think that the ratio of limos to cabs going there, is higher than the ratio of limos to cabs going to Astoria Boulevard. I mean, I’ve never been, but there are SOOO many other places that a typical tourist cab fare would go, that a typical “flying in for a TV show and expensing the hotel” limo-type fare wouldn’t.
    My soul isn’t crushed.

  3. Bill — To be clear, I didn’t mean retail investors aren’t watching CNBC. Of course they are. Just meant that retail investors (and pros) not interested in the market’s day-to-day machinations aren’t watching. That’s sort of self-evident, I would think.
    And if you’re still looking for a definition of retail investors, in the simplest terms I usually use it to mean anyone who manages money for themselves, not for others, and typically has personal market assets under a $1mm or so.

  4. The recent market activity, and the overall bearishness of the mainstream media (evidenced through the tone of interviews/choice of questions, topics covered, magazine cover art, etc.), has made several longer-term retail investors START expressing interest on a shorter-term basis.
    This is par for the course, happens frequently at major intermediate- and long-term bottoms, and is the reason why most mutual fund investors underperform the funds they are in.
    If the pros who don’t normally pay attention day-to-day are in a drawdown, THEY are paying attention now, as well. At some point (-20%? -30%), they’ll start seeing outflows, and that will GET their attention.
    A lot of folks who don’t NORMALLY pay attention to the day-to-day, are paying attention NOW. This should be evident in traffic statistics, ratings, etc., at the meta level. So IMO it’s a good thing they’re speaking to retail at this time.
    Just a couple of thoughts.
    Oh, re: the email – I think it says something about CNBC’s product, as well. If they were presenting really discerning and deeply useful information about the markets, would they attract a different sort of email?

  5. Ira Pfeifer says:

    A New York cabbie who takes you from the airport to Queens instead of Midtown? 2 to 1 he knows exactly where the Waldorf is, he was just trying to fleece the out-of-towner. Ever heard the joke about the cabbie taking the tourist to Times Square by way of Connecticut?