Investor Points of Few – The Do Wah Diddy Diddy of Financial Gobbledygook

By Alan Steel

I can tell you that after 45 years in the investment management business I’ve acquired a kind of warning system that tells me: “Gobbledygook Ahead.”

Odd, I know, but it’s a condition often awakened while I’m watching programmes like the “Bad News at 10,” just as the financial news anchors earpiece their way through the latest Armageddon assessment of the stock markets.

Sometimes too it comes to me while thumbing through the mainstream money pages, skimming digital headlines or when I’ve somehow stumbled across the latest Craptocurrency update on BS Coin (BS), Delerium (DUH) or Rip-off Token (RIP).

In fact, just yesterday, as a Deutsche Bank  (DB) “macro strategist” based his Brexit prediction that major companies will be leaving the UK due to political crises on “the newsflow in recent days,” my brain was suddenly drowned out by Blue Swede’s “Ooga-chaka, ooga-ooga…Ooga-chaka, ooga-ooga…”

And earlier this week, while the ever-resilient (if not slightly demented) strategic mouthpiece at Credit Suisse Clouseau’d his way through another apocalyptic economic gambit – a conclusion apparently arrived at by secret algorithm and Divination Bowl – it was Manfred Mann’s “Do Wah Diddy” that suddenly turned me damned near deaf.

As for today, well, a spate of headlines announcing the deepening market sell-off, where the FTSE 100 closed a blistering 0.63% down, ignited The Police’s “De do do do de da da da.”

And when that was followed by announcements that the Dow Jones was also down 2.7% this week, and the S&P 500 by 2.5%, I could barely hear myself think for Little Richard’s “Tutti frutti, oh Rudy” in my head.

Now, the sound of this curious internal alarm tends to change at times, but each version bears an eerie similarity in that the lyrics, much like the reporting that’s inciting them, are an exercise in nonsense; streams of words that play on emotions and have everyone singing along before you have a chance to consider what’s actually being said.

And they can all make you dance to their tune.

Thankfully, these drumming mantras of impending danger arrive just as the media are serving up their latest and most potent blend of Keynesian Kool-Aid, served up in a glass-half-empty of short-run hyperbole and distortion.

Then, once the music fades there’s a kind of cathartic moment of clarity brought on by a Pring Turner memory, a Ned Davis insight, a Dash of Jeff Miller and the Beach-hewn grains of sanity from Scott Grannis.

(I couldn’t think of a simile or metaphor for Ed Yardeni, but count him.)

So, what about the 71 stock market record highs of 2017 on balance, and the tranche of this years highs to boot?

Where’s the mention of the near 20,000 Dow Jones points accumulated since March 2009, the increases in corporate profits, jobs growth and low inflation?

Did they forget our ten-year tract of historically low interest rates, the $£Trillions on deposit, the volumes of metrics that should have us counting our bluidy blessings just now?

See, I said all that out loud and not a peep from my Blue Swede, Mann, Sting or Little Richard.

So it is my hope then that some of you out there will pick up my curious affliction and apply its soulful outbursts to your next encounter with these banana republics of investment analysis.

And may their next apocalyptic proclamations and Who-Dunnits of dour suspicion be suddenly drowned out by the belting wail of “Whop bop-a-lu a whop bam boo.”

Alan Steel, Chairman, Alan Steel Asset Manager

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