The Worst Day in …. A Day??

I have been slightly amused recently by the apparent desperation of financial media outlets to run a ‘panic’ story. The problem the media outlets have is that ‘normal’ does not make a particularly good story.

‘FTSE rises steadily by 0.5% this month as usual’ does not have that much of a ring to it.

You see, we all seem to like bad news stories, ones filled with disaster and fear. Accordingly, this is what the media generally creates.

It is important to remember what the main objective of a media outlet is (that is any media outlet and not just financial ones) and that is, to get you to consume their content, visit their website, read their blogs and, most importantly, see the adverts that they place alongside that content (or pay for it up front). The main objective of a financial media outlet is not to provide you with impartial, balanced views that are likely to enhance your financial decision making. Of course, there are a range of financial media outlets out there that go from the sublime to the completely ridiculous and some do provide useful insight and analysis, however it’s important not to take one view too seriously.

Sidetrack over, back to my point. You see, over the past month or two I have been noticing a trend towards increasingly short term assessments of the markets to generate a ‘panic’ headline. ‘FTSE has its worst week in a month’ was one recent example.

Now, I’m sorry, but a month is not that long in investment terms. In fact a month generally contains 4(ish) weeks. If we assume that the markets are generally random when considered over such short periods of time, surely there is approximately a 1 in 4 chance of every week being ‘the worst week in a month’.

The past few days have been a prime example in my view. Given the recent slip in oil prices, markets have been reacting, sending the FTSE 100 below 6000. Of course, the financial media outlets reacted with horror.

The irony is, these blips tend to be (most of the time) just that, blips. Things recover soon enough and ‘normality’ ensues.

True to form, the headline yesterday: ‘FTSE has best day in over two months’!