Americans are obsessed with celebrity and are willing to suspend disbelief in the presence of famous politicians, actors and actresses and sports stars – so why should it be any different when Americans look to the stock market?
While I was away, the legendary market-timer and technician Joe Granville passed away. Granville is one of the most fascinating figures in the history of the game (see: The Day Joe Granville Crashed the Market)
He’s a great example of a guy who started out with a process (his technical indicators) and then slowly grew drunk on his own celebrity and the media’s gullibility. After successfully calling the ups and downs of the late 1970’s bear market denouement, the timer met his own version of Little Big Horn when the Dow took off in the summer of 1982 and never turned back. Granville remained bearish for years and it leveled his credibility.
Amazingly, as long as he was getting the market direction right, his credibility had remained intact – despite the fact that Granville’s live events frequently featured the market prognosticator walking on water, predicting earthquakes and singing his theme song, The Bagholder’s Blues, while his trained chimpanzee played the organ (true stories, all of them).
Here’s Mark Hulbert, who’s tracked Joe Granville for thirty years, on a TV appearance they’d once made together:
Lesson 4: It doesn’t matter what they say, so long as they spell your name right
Granville laughed all the way to the bank when Wall Street ridiculed his clown-like behavior. At least they were paying attention.
I remember a time in the late 1980s when I appeared on an episode of the “Wall Street Week” TV show hosted by Louis Rukeyser, along with both Granville and Al Frank, then editor of The Prudent Speculator. My designated role was to talk about investment newsletter performance, with Frank an example of someone whose performance was outstanding and Granville an illustration of someone whose performance was awful.
Granville, videogenic as ever, was beaming, while Frank came across more as a fumbling professor. I wouldn’t be surprised if Granville secured more new subscribers from the show than did Frank
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Our willingness to believe that the guy who presents himself well can predict the future is everlasting.