Investment News and the Irresistible Power of the Present

July 11, 2022
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News media magnifies the current moment. All that matters is the present.

To make things worse, often the reporting of this or that event is framed in such a way that makes things looks SOOO bad according to the bias of the particular cable network.

I’m no blind optimist. There are a lot of reasons to be discouraged, but I also know that clickbait, partisanship, and negative news makes a whole lot of money. The more outrageous the claims and the higher the hyperbole, the more infotaining you can be. 

  • Recall that politician yesterday.
  • X happened or is going to happen, so act NOW.
  • Fix it—well, fix everything—this second.
  • Why think when you can scream and yell?

Financial media is no different. It relishes the subjectivity of the moment. One can turn on CNBC on a big up day and practically feel the positive financial mood seeping into your skin through your screen, and a day later, with stocks tumbling, frantic and fearful, voices leave you restless and concerned.

I just jumped over to the popular financial source, Yahoo! Finance, to scan the page and here is some of the language:

  • “bitter battle”
  • “Worst year ever”
  • “Most severe yet”
  • “In for trouble”
  • “Fears rise”
  • “Doomsday scenario”
  • “Could nearly triple”
  • “Very bad time”
  • “3 Stock Giants Jim Cramer Bets On”
  • “Guaranteed Retirement Income if you do this”

Sure, I’m lifting these lines out of their context, but you get the idea. Here’s the point:

The irresistible power of the present can keep us from long-term thinking.

Immediate action elicited by what looks and sounds good in the now can be the enemy of wisdom.

Just ask your local donut. We like our news feeds like we like our sweets - full of sugar, spice, and everything not nice.

The writer David Perell speaks to this problem and offers some wisdom that translates well to financial markets: 

“…I watched my friends scroll their social media feeds with ferocious intensity. One thing stuck out: the people in front of me only consumed content created within the last 24 hours.

We’re trapped in a Never-Ending Now — blind to our place in history, engulfed in the present moment, overwhelmed by the slightest breeze of chaos.

Here’s the bottom line: How can you prioritize the accumulated wisdom of humanity over the impulses of the past 24 hours?”1

How will you place what is happening now in the markets and economy in the context of history?

Don’t be won over by the seductive power of the Never Ending Now.

Think in terms of decades not days. Remember the past and consider your future.

Maybe even turn off your phone.

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Sources:

  1. “The Never Ending Now”. Accessed online: https://perell.com/essay/never-ending-now/.