A pundits’ panel of chief strategists who are regularly quoted in broadcast, online and print media joined star bloggers Barry Ritholtz and Josh Brown on Tuesday to bemoan the insanity of the 24-7 financial news cycle.
At his fifth annual Big Picture Conference in New York, Ritholtz welcomed his new Ritholtz Wealth Management partner, Brown of Reformed Broker blog fame, to moderate a “View from the Chief Strategist’s Chair” panel that focused largely on modern-day media’s effects on market volatility.
“The reason I do as much tweeting as I do is because I retweet every eighth tweet of Josh’s tweets,” Ritholtz quipped as he introduced Brown. (Ritholtz is no stranger to social media – TED Talks credits his Big Picture blog as one of “100 websites you should know and use,” while Matt Miller of Bloomberg says Ritholtz “consistently makes more sense than anyone else in media” and Randall Forsyth of Barron’s calls The Big Picture “a must-read blog.”)
With that media-savvy opener, Brown introduced himself as “the Mohamed El-Erian to Barry’s Bill Gross if they were really into carbs,” then launched the panel with this self-critical question: “We’re awash in information. With all the tweeting and blogging out there, it’s hard to keep up with what’s going on. Is there too much noise?”
Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Lazard Capital who appears on Larry Kudlow’s CNBC “The Kudlow Report,” volunteered that the biggest change in technology, social media and the 24-7 media cycle is that “you can exaggerate points that don’t matter that much because it’s the only piece of economic data that day and there’s not that much going on.”
Hogan, who acknowledged that he was the oldest panelist, recalled that market participants “used to talk about three-month moving averages, but now you’ve got people asking, ‘What’s going on today?’ and half of your job is talking to newspeople.”
Jeffrey Kleintop, chief market strategist at independent broker-dealer LPL Financial, who often gets quoted on CNBC and Bloomberg, noticed that markets in the 24-7 news climate can get obsessed about one thing briefly before moving on to the next obsession.
“Remember Syria? Or the Italian elections?” Kleintop said. “The key thing is to keep in perspective what the markets have forgotten about.”
Kleintop added that he travels across the country and meets with LPL’s 17,000 affiliated advisors, who are all reading the news and paying attention to issues such as the debt ceiling and the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing (QE) program.
“You have to seriously consider data points, because when you talk to advisors you don’t want to sound out of touch,” Kleintop said, noting that the anecdotes he hears around the country create a psychological mosaic of where advisors think the U.S. economy and markets are headed.
But panelist Daniel Greenhaus, chief global strategist at institutional trading brokerage BTIG, who makes appearances on Bloomberg TV and works with clients in the hedge fund world, said that hedgies take a longer view and avoid the noise in the blogosphere: “If you talk to George Soros, all he wants is the big picture view of QE tapering: ‘When will the Fed stop buying back bonds? Next spring? OK, now let’s talk about something else.’ None of those guys at hedge funds have a clue what Dave Camp is doing as chairman as the House Ways and Means Committee. They literally don’t care. They simply want to know what cash flows will be. The big guys stay laser-focused on individual stocks.”
Read Reformed Broker on New Ritholtz Firm: Our Blogging Is Research at ThinkAdvisor.