Fake news and false prophets/profits

I have to admit, all the recent attention on ‘fake news’ strikes me as naive.  Never mind all the completely made up information, what about the relentless deluge of official government and corporate financial data and press releases.  Did most people really not realize, until now, how manipulated, massaged and misleading most information has become?  A lifelong devotion to critical thinking is the only hope.

On this theme, The Credit Strategist’s Michael E. Lewitt has penned two of the most honest, cathartic paragraphs I have read in some time in his January missive Faking it (subscription only here).

Such true words are rarely spoken.  We must understand and govern ourselves accordingly, especially in the financial plans and choices we make.  Eyes wide open.

After years of watching American corporations lie to investors about earnings and Wall Street analysts pimp for them and keep their jobs, it amazes me that people are just coming to discover “fake news”. Wall Street has churned out “fake news” since printing the first stock certificate. Companies lie to analysts, analysts lie to investors, the financial press parrots these lies and then everybody sits around predicting the future like a bunch of dime -store palm readers. CNBC claims to be the leading financial news channel when, to borrow the words of its Washington reporter John Harwood, it is nothing more than a cartoon version of a television network creating false excitement about markets to lure unsophisticated investors today-trade stocks at the worst possible times. They used to say that if you want a friend on Wall Street, you should get a dog. What they meant was that if you were looking for the truth on Wall Street, you are dumber than a dog.

We live in an inauthentic world yet people perceived to be telling the truth are demonized and shunned by the establishment. The fact that it took everybody so long to figure out that mainstream media promoted “fake news” to support their own political agenda is testimony to the fact that we claim to seek authenticity but settle for insincerity, falsehood and duplicity in our personal, business and civic relationships. Those of us who refuse to settle are considered “difficult”.  We term experts people whose credentials consist of being consistently and wildly wrong about the subjects of their alleged expertise while exhibiting a stunning lack of self-doubt and humility about their failures. “Often wrong but never in doubt” is the mantra of the technocrats and bureaucrats who lead us into one disaster after another while dismissing dissenting voices.  The question I keep asking (because I am decidedly “difficult”) is whether they are wrong because they are stupid or because they are lying.  I’ve come to conclude that the two alternatives are not mutually exclusive though one of the worst sins our society commits against itself is confusing educational achievement and wealth for intelligence or good intentions.

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