"Lie to me" or when we ask for the truth, do we really mean "tell me the 'truth' I want to hear at the moment"?
I just finished reading an opinion piece on Marketwatch.com by Paul Farrell. I normally do not agree with this writer. However, in this instance I am definitely in his camp. People do want to be lied to. Maybe more so in bad times than in good. The opinion piece is fairly long (he's wordier than even me) so budget 5 minutes to read and digest it if my synopsis below isn't enough for you.
Basically, what he is saying (as I see it) is that people know they are being lied to, accept the lies at one level, reward the liars, and then complain that the lies aren't true. Let me quote a specific part of the article:
In early 2009 BusinessWeek and Kiplinger's reported on lies fed to us last year as the meltdown spread: Bernanke, "I don't anticipate any serious [failures] among large internationally active banks." ... Barney Frank, "Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are fundamentally sound" ... Madoff, "In today's regulatory environment it's virtually impossible to violate the rules" ... Barron's, "Home prices about to bottom" ... Ken Fisher, "This year will end in the plus column ... so keep buying." ... Worth, "Emerging markets are the global investors' safe haven." ... Cramer, "Bye-bye bear market, say hello to the bull." ... and in late 2008 even Kiplinger's said, "Stock investors should 'beat the rush to the banks."
Bad calls? Grow up. Stop the "political correctness" whining. They're "lies." And we're all trapped in this new disease we're calling the "lie-to-me" syndrome, a cultural malaise.
I would take exception here because there is only one provable lie in the above and that would be Bernie Madoff's. The others could easily be hyperbole, wishful thinking, poor judgment, etc. However, those are equally dangerous because we want to believe "experts" who tell us things aren't as bad as they appear and that things are about to (or have started to) turn for the better. It's why I stopped giving credence to brokers and, especially, the business experts on TV.
I have even taken to doing the opposite of what they advise in many cases. When they recommend moving into Bonds, I take a closer look at investing in them. When they say certain companies or sectors are poised for recovery, I steer clear of them. To a great extent, either through luck or cleverness, this has panned out for me. I suspect it's the former but I am willing to take that... so long as it holds out.
By the way, things are getting better... Trust me.
A Night Unremembered
6 years ago