Someday, some pundit is going to come out and call BS on the whole on-air stock promotion system…but today is not that day. From the title of his article in Newsweek, “Confessions of a Pundit“, it sounded as though former pundit Zachary Karabell was about to do just that.
Every day, on air, online and in print, dozens of economists and strategists proclaim their views on how bad the crisis will get and how long it will last. Even though a fair number of these economic forecasters are informed and astute, they are not objective or neutral. I should know, because I’ve been one. And while I have always said what I believe, what I believe sometimes has been subtly shaped by who pays the bills.
Instead, we get a partial apology and a major back-pedal just before the rubber hits the road. Instead of going all the way and talking about the ways a pundit’s opinion gets skewed depending on their employer, he focuses instead on how people become in-demand by the media depending on their already-established, entirely legitimate viewpoint.
He cites Meredith Whitney and Nouriel Roubini as examples of pundits who have found themselves highly sought-after because of the environment we’re in now.
Prominent experts, therefore, are often simply those whose voices are in harmony with today’s mood and who have an easier time selling their stories. That doesn’t mean that the analysis is inherently flawed—only that it is inherently market-driven.
There is one interesting nugget to pass on from the article:
Being wrong in the past is not much of a liability as long as one is right in the present.
Karabell was a pundit representing growth stock firm Fred Alger Management, and he does cop to always being a glass-half-full guy, but then he hedges himself by saying that he really is a glass-half-full guy in his own mind, so his appearances were beyond reproach.
Zachary, you almost wrote the story we’ve all been waiting for about the pundit world. You almost kept it real.
Full Story: Confessions of a Pundit (Newsweek)