Thursday, March 10, 2005


Chicago Boy Jonathan Gewirtz praises the new Larry Kudlow show, now devoid of the frenetic and liberal Jim Cramer. Gewirtz is right; Kudlow's unabashed free-market views are a breath of fresh air on TV. Kudlow's a bit of a cheerleader, but his show is decent enough on an ordinary night and often made better by a high-powered guest.

CNBC needs to do two more things now (at least). First they need to improve their daytime format so that they're not simply pandering to day-trading, technically-oriented investors. Some shows could stand a brief explanation of some accounting principle on occasion -- even if such segments provide the most basic information such as letting investors know that 3 financial statements comprise a public company's annual report, and even (especially?) if such segments would scare investors into thinking that they don't know how to pick stocks. Something like an accounting tip of the day, concentrating on one line-item of a financial statement would be great. Some of the brighter reporters and commentators could inject it into conversations throughout the day. In any case, the best stock/mutual fund of the month ethos is in serious need of reform.

Most individual investors don't understand (or too easily forget) that a stock is an ownership piece of a business, and that if they're going to make money from holding the stock, the business better be in good shape. There was a women's fashion boutique accross the street from the brokerage where I used to work, and I would often ask my clients who were interested in owning individual stocks (as opposed to, say, mutual funds) to make believe that the owner of the boutique had offered to sell it to them. Wouldn't my client want to know how many dresses and other items they sold each month? What the profit margin was on each item? What rent was for the store? How many employees were required to run the shop efficiently? How steady the profits were or if the store did better in some months than in others? Of course the client would say that he'd want to know the answers to all these questions and many others, but then he'd mysteriously become dumbfounded when I asked why they viewed owning a stock any differently. These are the kinds of problems CNBC fosters currently.

Second, CNBC needs to get rid of their moronic shows after Kudlow and shoot for more elevated material like the Wall St. Journal report, which they nixed. I can't believe I'm even writing his name on my blog, but Donnie Deutsch must go. He is not the person around whom you want to build a nightly TV format. At his best, he's a notch above Howard Stern, smutty and moralistic all at once in a pubescent way. And that accent is like fingernails on a blackboard (and I'm from Brooklyn).

Here's a hint for CNBC: I'm tired of having to turn to PBS late at night to hear the pretentious and superficial Charlie Rose question people like Fouad Ajami and Henry Kissinger when there's a foreign policy crisis. Why doesn't CNBC aim for some higher level of the Rose show?


Blogger Mrs. Davis said...

Your point about scaring people away from stocks if they don't know the 3 primary financial statements is excellent...and frightening.

6:28 PM  

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