An Open Letter to CNBC
Dear Maria, Joe, David, Mark, Leslie, Becky, Bob, and Mary:
I'm confused! Have you lost your touch? Remember the good ol' days in 1999 and early 2000 when you could make stocks jump every time it was earnings season? "So and so beat by a penny," you used to cry. It was magical the way you could make those tech stocks soar. Of course they all came crashing back down to earth, some even close to purgatory. But hey, details! This time however, when those same companies "beat the street," the stocks are falling despite great 2Q earnings. Mysteriously, NASDAQ has declined 9% thus far in July.
I wonder if part of the problem isn't karma. I liked it better when you used to refer to each other as the Kahuna, the Brain, or the Bond Babe. It felt more like a fraternity, because you and we viewers were all so close. What happened? Let's get back to those days. Maybe we can get the ball rolling by giving Kudlow and Cramer nicknames. By the way, off-air did you also have a nickname for your viewers?
You don't think "a penny better" doesn't matter anymore, do you? I hear there are some "grizzlies" out there with obscure names like Russell, Sinclair, Roach, Kasriel, Murphy, Taylor, and Tice who don't. They talk about things like $500+ billion budget and current account deficits, record debt levels, low savings rates, a 25% decline in the dollar, or high market valuations. I rarely hear you express concern for those things, so I assume that those "bears" don't know what they're talking about. Why, Kasriel talks about Austrian Economics, while Taylor mentions the Kondratieff Cycle. Murphy wants to replace paper money with gold and claims that the U.S. government and the large banks are artificially suppressing the price of gold. Isn't that ridiculous? Roach, well he is just plain confusing to read. Russell claims that the market discounts current news and therefore refers to your commentary as "noise!" I've even heard some people rename your network "CNBS!" Not me, I think I'll maintain your "by a penny" investment strategy because it's a lot easier to comprehend. I hope you won't let me down.
I don't blame you for never interviewing any of these "doom and gloomers." Your viewers don't need to be exposed to that kind of propaganda. It's much better to parade the likes of Bob Froelich (Dr. Bob, now there's a nickname), Art Hogan, Al Goldman, Stuart Friedman, Alan Skrainka, James Glassman, and the greatest bull of all, Richard Hoey. I'm most grateful for Hoey, for he was the one who assured us all that the bear market was over and a new, long term bull market had begun. (It's funny, but he didn't seem quite so confident last week.)
You know, if "a penny better" isn't working, I have another idea to get this market moving north. Ever since the scuttlebutt came out involving Enron and WorldCom, you have asked your guests to disclose if they own the stocks they promote on your show. Surprisingly, most of them don't even own their top recommendations! I find that peculiar, unless of course, they don't believe they can pick stocks. So, let's force them to buy every stock they recommend. Think of all the buying power that will create. I suppose most of those shunned "bears" own their own recommendations. Maybe that is why they are winning this stock market tug of war.
Before I close, I would like to ask you one more question. If the market doesn't recover any time soon, would you ever consider converting to a comedy channel? I understand viewership is high in that arena.
A Reply to Wistar Holt from CNBC
Dear Mr. Holt:
Thank you for your recent letter to all of us at CNBC. Although most of your suggestions are good, there are already some changes taking place which you may not be aware of. For instance, the U.S. dollar scares the "bejesus" out of us! We're afraid it may not last any longer than Martha Stewart's acknowledgement of guilt. Therefore, for the next earnings season, you won't hear us report that someone "beat by a penny" anymore. No, we're more likely to say that "so and so missed by a euro or two." Of course, these releases will still be pro forma to lessen the pain. In addition, you may need to test your hearing because our allies on Wall Street have suggested that we whisper those results, since they have spent so much energy convincing everyone to focus on the "whisper number." We agreed because if the results are going to be that bad, we don't want to blurt it out anyway. Furthermore, our currency concerns have swayed us into demanding that our salaries be paid in euros.
Speaking of compensation, we have negotiated our annual pay increases based on the RCPI (Real Consumer Price Index). It definitely includes food and energy since that's where all of our money goes these days. Pay is expected to escalate 12%, 15%, and 18% respectively, over the next three years. We hope this income allows us to be self-supporting when the baby boomers retire and there are insufficient employment withholdings to cover social security and Medicare. Management is so concerned about this widespread problem that they have asked our comrades Martha and Liz to begin a new baby boom and help alleviate the shortfall.
As for interviewing those "bears," our problem is we can't find any "bulls" for a bull vs. bear debate. We have provided a list of the usual suspects (Kasriel, Taylor, Murphy, Roach, Russell, Tice, Sinclair, et al), but the "bulls" always politely decline. Perhaps we should consider a "bear" vs. "perma-bear" debate? By the way, we agree that Roach's analysis is complex. But man, he sure knows his stuff. We're just wondering how long he and Kasriel can last on Wall Street's dole? Maybe their firms will let us dress them up as "bulls" so we can have our debate? Tell Murphy that we have no immediate plans to interview gold proponents. We're waiting until each of us has accumulated as much as possible below $400/oz. Then we're going to open the floodgates by converting our segment "Trader Talk" to "Gold Bug Talk" and watch the public go nuts, then back up the truck! Tell Russell that we think gold will surpass the DJIA much sooner, perhaps in 2006.
Mr. Holt, did you happen to hear Fed Chairman Greenspan address Congress last week and tell us all that everything is fine? Personally, we don't pay any attention to "Greenie" or any government statistic except the recent one which states that 67% of the U.S. population is overweight. It's kind of hard to exclude food from that report, and there is no energy to speak of. We're trying to do our share to support this low carb craze by making our segment "Power Lunch" so boring that our audience falls asleep and misses lunch altogether. To further prevent the taste buds from becoming aroused, we no longer display food and drink on our show. Miss Manners wrote and scolded us, saying it's not polite to eat in front of others. Since we don't have enough to share with our 46 viewers, we decided to eat and drink during commercial breaks.
With viewership declining, Kudlow and Cramer are trying to recruit "Greenie" to host their show. We don't know if that's such a good idea. From the likes of the congressional hearings, no one seemed to care about the economy except Congressman Ron Paul. Hey wait, how about a Greenspan vs. Paul "bull" vs. "bear" debate? We could hold it at the gates of Ft. Knox. Now we're getting somewhere!
Mr. Holt, we were particularly tickled at your suggestion to convert to a comedy channel. Do you really think we're that good? Do you think Lorne Michaels from SNL might be watching?
The CNBC Gang
(Just in case you haven't figured it out, the reply is tongue-in-cheek, from the mind of Wistar himself.)