The stock market belched today

The stock market belched today
: It’s about time someone did this story: Bob Garfield on NPR reported last night on the ludicrous motives ascribed to the ups and downs in the market by reporters, analysts, and other self-annointed experts.

This reached the height of absurdity this week when the accepted wisdom of the moment was that the release of the new bin Laden (fake) tape sent the market tripping. Noted Wall Street expert Howard Stern said that was just ludicrous — as if suddenly all across the world, millions of stockholders decided to sell because this depressed and scared them.

Of course, that’s what happens every day: Jitters… profit-taking… optimism. Who the hell knows? And this is indicative of the quality of financial reporting and analysis in the country: It’s all about just nodding at accepted wisdom with no reporting, no checking, no questioning.

On the daily market report, it would be possible to come up with a real measure of market behavior, now that all traders are connected electronically. Imagine if Reuters had a panel of buyers and sellers reporting their motives in aggregate. It would be great data to sell (hello, Reuters?). And I’d bet that we’d never hear them report that a (obviously fake) bin Laden tape put them in a bad mood.

As for the quality of the rest of financial reporting and analysis… well, computers can’t fix that.