The Fog of Reporting

By: Rob Kirby | Fri, Jul 8, 2005
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Another despicable act of terrorism was committed in London today where multiple explosions were targeted to kill, instill fear as well as disrupt and inflict damage to the city's mass transit system. Striking at the heart of the city's mass transportation grid makes this, if you will, an act of economic terrorism in that its very design was to bring about paralysis to the economy of Britain's largest city. World leaders attending the G 8 summit in Scotland rightly and sternly condemned this act as an attack against all civilized peoples.

With this as a backdrop, I would like to offer this commentary; our fine feathered friends in the main stream financial press on the other hand, still doesn't seem to get it. From where I sit, dear reader, when news outlets like CNBC make claims that they are the world's leader in business news, I still expect a little bit more than the cheerleading equity clap trap I have become so accustomed to hearing from them.

As I awoke this morning to the dulcet tones of Mark Haines on CNBC - he was not cheerleading, but instead was 'kind of' apologizing that CNBC's job was 'reporting the business news.' Of course, I immediately got excited, jumping to conclusions again, that perhaps CNBC had 'seen the light' and there might be a chance of some frank, balanced, responsible economic/business reporting. Oh, how wrong I was. Seeing the 'gold ticker bug' showing gold up 4.00 in overnight trade, I instinctively and intuitively knew something "big" had happened. Coincidentally, that big thing that had happened was the London Transit bombings alluded to above. You see, as Squawk Box's Haines started uttering words relating to the event [which amounted to apologies for not covering the event in the manner in which CNN does], my instinctive response was to change the channel on the television to CNN - who brand themselves as the world's news leader. I managed to catch myself doing this and I actually thought about it for a brief moment and the words "Got Ya" jumped into my mind. Another moment went by and I quickly flipped the channel back to CNBC thinking "not this time you didn't." Amazing, isn't it, the power of suggestion [advertising] when you want someone to think about pink elephants - but whatever you do, don't picture a pink elephant, ok?

Anyway, after listening to Haines apologetically explain that it was CNBC's job to responsibly report the impact of this sad event on financial markets [implying not the gruesome details like the Networks or CNN] - the customary procession of experts began parading in front of the cameras to give their take on the financial market impact of the sad events unfolding in London.

First up was CNBC senior economics reporter, Steve Liesman. Ole Steve managed to blurt out something to the effect 'that it was no surprise' that the price of gold had spiked up [approximately 4 bucks up at the time] as the purchase of precious metals was a classic 'flight to quality' trade. This utterance got me thinking. Over the past couple of years, there have been occasions when the bond market has rallied hard in response to events [like government and financial authorities reporting of economic numbers] when the metals have counter intuitively "sold off" when one might typically have expected the same type of 'flight to quality' trade Ole Steve so smartly pointed out. That got me thinking some more: What's the difference? The answer to that question, I would contend, is that economic reporting can be characterized as events that officials 'know in advance' that they are going to happen. Furthermore, they know what the headline release is going to be, seeing as they are the ones who gather the data. I would contend that prior to the release of such data, an appropriate and planned [rigged] response has already been formulated on the part of officialdom. This would explain why markets do not behave in accordance with fundamentals.

The bombings of this morning, I would suggest, were not known [hopefully] to officials in advance. Hence, in an unscripted environment - gold rallied hard in the wake of the troublesome geopolitical breaking news in exactly the instinctively correct fashion it historically has and should do. Of course, gold met very stiff selling, being hammered back to gains of under a buck, as the 8:20 am. ET COMEX opening approached. The COMEX exchange is where the price of gold is widely alleged [by folks like GATA] to have been effectively capped for years.

Next up in the expert lineup was none other than HSBC currency strategist - Marc Chandler. Mr. Chandler was asked by the Squawk Boxers what fallout the London bombing has had in the foreign exchange markets. Chandler explained that the US dollar had sold off somewhat and the Swiss Franc had experienced a rather robust rally. When questioned why the Swiss Franc had done better Chandler offered words to the effect, 'that the Swiss have had a long history of neutrality in times of geopolitical turmoil - therefore their currency would be logically seen as a safe haven play'. This explanation, while accurate, is in my mind extremely misleading and incomplete. What Mr. Chandler failed to mention is that the Swiss Monetary Authorities as well as their currency - the Franc - also has a long association with gold bullion. Not that the Franc is backed by gold today - no major global currency is - but to suggest [through omission] that this aspect of the currency's past does not figure into its attractiveness today - in my mind cannot be viewed as other than deliberate, particularly from someone purported to be a 'chief currency strategist.' True to form, of course, the CNBC Squawk crew completely missed the gold story. One day soon, I would like to subliminally suggest whether or not the PTB [powers that be] or media like it, the real gold story - one of its illicit price suppression - is going to become THE STORY no one can get enough of and one that they will all be apologizing for.


Rob Kirby

Author: Rob Kirby

Rob Kirby
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