“This is Only Entertainment”

This is not meant to be a rant, but it may end up as one.  Yes, I have a disclaimer at my blog.  We all need disclaimers.  My disclaimer focuses on the idea that even bright people may make severe mistakes, and that the best of us only hand out educated guesses.

I can respect ideas like that.  What I don’t respect is language that says that “the following is entertainment.”  Entertainment?!  Who are you kidding?!  Few read investment analyses for entertainment, particularly when you are discussing a few securities that the author thinks could be profitable.  Yes, I can see them lining up at the Theaters, waiting  to watch the latest “Incredible Investment Idea,” on the big screen.

I can respect people who say, “This is my opinion,” and then when it doesn’t work out, I don’t blame them.  Everyone has opinions that are wrong, including all of the best investors.

But to say that investment writing can be for entertainment is ridiculous.  First, it is not entertaining.  Second, it often implies actions to be taken — few return from entertainment saying they ought to do something.

Look, I have made mistakes in the past.  This current post possibly contains mistakes.  I will make mistakes in the future, unless I die after this is written.

We have to accept the idea that what most people, even professional sell-side analysts write, is mere opinion.  That said, as a best practice, as I did at RealMoney, and from day one at Aleph Blog, I disclose all of my interests when I write a piece.

My main point is this: investment writing is not entertainment.  Disclaimers should be improved to reflect that opinions that might be wrong are being offered.

4 Comments

  • YYY says:

    WWJMD – What would Jeff Matthews do?

  • eg1 says:

    For most normal people, such things are not merely entertainment.

    I am among the abnormal — I am not “in the business”, nor do I own anything of consequence outside of my pension, but I simply enjoy political economy, and your blog among others helps scratch that itch.

    Thank you, and carry on! :-)

  • Anon says:

    If not entertainment, then what?

    When Joe Sixpack reads a couple of seekingalpha articles and then goes and gambles on a stock or two…is he really trying to maximize his risk-adjusted returns? Does he really have his financial well-being in mind? Of course not, he’s a gambler.

    I am instantly reminded of a recent Felix Salmon article which portrayed stock picking as a hobby (for most people), and I don’t see how you can disagree. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of writing is directed at ignorant retail traders/investors. The people who would be far better served by just dumping all their cash into SPY and never touching it for 20 years.

    I believe stock picking is very much a hobby for these people, and as such the writing in this arena is very much for entertainment.