You’d think the US Federal Reserve’s decision to will US$1 trillion into being would be hard to beat as the number one financial news story of the week.
But a television debate between a funnyman and a moneyman has overshadowed the nuclear ‘quantitative easing’ efforts of the Federal Reserve. The confrontation between Jon Stewart, host of satirical ‘The Daily Show’ (which screens on C4 in New Zealand), and Jim Cramer, frontman of the CNBC ‘Mad Money’ program has dominated online and mainstream media comment, in the US anyway.
Essentially, Stewart accused Cramer – and the financial media in general – of being empty-headed cheerleaders in the investment game, rather than unbiased commentators.
But, Cramer, a hedge fund manager turned financial commentator, says at one point in the interview, ‘they lied to me’, and he sounds genuinely surprised. Which is a surprise, the default position for any journalist should be that they’re being lied to – our job is to tease out a fact or two.
The Cramer/Stewart fight has sparked a vigorous online debate about the culpability of the media in fanning the flames of the global financial conflagration, this comment on the Wall Street Journal, for example, makes some interesting claims.
“The reasons the financial-entertainment biz failed us are many and complex, but they ultimately come down to this: In the marketplace to describe the marketplace itself, there is precious little competition,” the WSJ comment says. “There is a single, standard product that comes in packaging that is alternately sultry, energetic or fun – bitter, brainy or Cramer ‘crazy’ – but which rarely strays beyond certain ideological boundaries.”
There is no real equivalent of Cramer in NZ. Here financial TV is more about how to profit out of property or how to save money by buying homebrand two-minute noodles but the WSJ point still holds. Financial players tend to get treated as either geniuses or crooks in the media when really most of them are ordinary people doing a sometimes-difficult job.
Meanwhile, as the WSJ piece concludes “the small investors whom the personal-financial industry claims so much to adore remain bystanders in a drama they neither understand nor control”