Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Crash to come by Christmas?
Commentary: The S&P 500 is worth only 910. Get out or lose big
By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — Politicians lie. Bankers lie. Yes, they’re liars. But they’re not bad, it’s in their genes, inherited. Their brains are wired that way, warn scientists. Like addicts, they can’t help themselves. They want to sell stuff, get rich.
We want to believe they’re telling us the truth. Silly, huh? Both trapped in this eternal “dance of death” controlled by programs hidden deep in our brains, telling us what to do, telling us to ignore facts to the contrary — till it’s too late, till a new crisis crushes all of us.
Psychology offers us a powerful lesson: Our collective brain is destined to trigger a crash before Christmas 2011. Why? We’re gullible, keep searching for a truth-teller in a world of liars. And they’re so clever, we let them manipulate us into acting against our best interests.
In fact, behavioral science tells us that bankers and politicians are lying to us 93% of the time. It’s 13 times more likely Wall Street is telling you a lie than the truth. That’s why they win. Why we lose. Because our brains are preprogrammed to cooperate in their con game. Yes, we believe most of their lies.
One of America’s leading behavioral finance gurus, University of Chicago Prof. Richard Thaler, explains: “Think of the human brain as a personal computer with a very slow processor and a memory system that is small and unreliable.” Thaler even admits: “The PC I carry between my ears has more disk failures than I care to think about.” Easy to manipulate.
Eternal love story: Your brain’s in love with Wall Street’s brain
Thaler’s a quant, speaks mostly in cryptic algorithmics. So if you really want to know how Wall Street’s con game works on you, Barry Ritholtz, the financial genius behind “Bailout Nation,” recently summarized it in the Washington Post: “Humans make all the same mistakes, over and over again. It’s how we are wired, the net result of evolution. That flight-or-fight response might have helped your ancestors deal with hungry saber-toothed tigers and territorial Cro Magnons, but it drives investors to make costly emotional decisions.”
Humans have something “akin to brain damage,” says Ritholtz. “To neurophysiologists, who research cognitive functions, the emotionally driven appear to suffer from cognitive deficits that mimic certain types of brain injuries. … Anyone with an intense emotional interest in a subject loses the ability to observe it objectively: You selectively perceive events. You ignore data and facts that disagree with your main philosophy. Even your memory works to fool you, as you selectively retain what you believe in, and subtly mask any memories that might conflict.”
Worse, there’s no cure.
Your brain needs to believe lies; Wall Street loves telling lies
Examples: USA Today headline: “Average Bull is 3.8 years: We’re not at 2 yet.” More upside. Wall Street loves it. The Wall Street Journal: “Stock recovery in high gear … S&P500 now speeding toward its next landmark,” double its March 2009 bottom.
Other lies: Inflation and rate rises won’t push China and America over the edge into a new bear recession. That one’s real popular in Wall Street’s echo chamber. Wall Street also cheers every time cable pundits and journalists repeat their favorite statistic: That stocks rally in the third year of a presidency, often more than 20%. Yes, Wall Street loves those 93% lies.
Biggest lie? Wharton’s perennial bull, Jeremy Siegel, of “Stocks for the Long Run” fame, recently told a TD Ameritrade Institutional Conference, “There’s nothing but upside to come …the next several years are going to be good for stocks.”
Yes, one of Wall Street’s favorite co-conspirators is hypnotizing thousands of our best money managers and advisers into believing the lie that this bull market will roar indefinitely. Worse, they’ll use that message to sell naive investors on buying whatever junk Wall Street is selling.
Get the picture? A little conspiracy begins in your head, a conspiracy between your gullible brain and Wall Street’s con men selling hype, hoopla and happy-talk. Listen and you’ll lose...