Rage quitting and falling trust in the mainstream media

It’s 10:59 a.m. on my first day back at work after a four-day break, and I’m struggling to find something to write about before we post this blog today. Josh and Marsya are chasing me to finish the blog, and Tash is giving me suggestions. It’s a familiar feeling.

One recent thing that’s happened is a couple of people in a business owner/ investor/ economist group chat I’m part of have rage quit and left after an interview by Tucker Carlson was posted. It was weirdly entertaining, but it left a heap of people completely baffled since Tucker Carlson was too triggering for them to continue. Seems that they only wanted ‘reputable’ mainstream media (MSM) sources. I thought this stuff only happened in America! It felt like I peeked into a world I’d only read about. I’m not sure that the words reputable and mainstream media should be used in the same sentence together.

The weirdest part for me is that they were both reasonably intelligent, one being a partner in a small investment advisory group and the other working in APRA. But this isn’t an isolated incident. A very good friend I grew up with who easily has an IQ over 140 (this would put him at the top 0.48% of the population) had similar views. Now he’s looking after half a trillion dollars’ worth of projects for Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, so it’s no barrier to success. We have had some great debates over the decades.

If it’s not that people are unintelligent, I think the crucial difference comes down to different personality types based on the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Sensing types (the majority of the population) tend to like following the status quo while iNtuitive types are more likely to try and solve the problem from first principles.

What has become abundantly clear is that the tide is turning. Trust in the MSM has been falling for decades, and it is now even bringing some Sensing types to the dark side. Between 2022 and 2023, Australians’ trust in the media fell from 43% to 38%. Even my highly intelligent mate has finally started to change his tune.

I learned quite early in my investing career that it’s almost impossible to gather information from the finance section of the newspaper and use it to make money. It’s the place you go to find out what’s already happened. Alternatively, it’s the place you go to become exit liquidity for the smart money! Even today, that old Wall Street saying of “buy the rumor, sell the news” works.

Media companies are well aware of what stories sell. One hundred fifty years before they had algorithms to feed us the content that would get the most clicks, those clever execs already had a good handle on things.

The old saying, “If it bleeds, it leads,” still holds true today. That is to say that anything violent or lurid would sell the most papers. This includes financial crises as well as stories of serial killers and the like. We are simply wired more to respond to fear than good news. Caution and following the herd is likely an evolutionary characteristic that was good for survival when we were hunter-gatherers, but it is far less useful when it comes to investing.

In the world of investing, we’ve been bombarded with stories of impending crises, most of which are based on truth but framed in a way designed to make the media companies the most money. The simple truth is that if you look at property prices, they grew 30% faster than the long-term average in the last 12 months. And some markets are already up 40-50% off the lows where they consolidated after the last cycle’s peak. There is no doubt about it: we are already in the middle of a bull market.   


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