Oooh this is rich.
Now Chanos is taking aim at another train wreck: the financial media. In a speech yesterday, Chanos trashed the broadcast and on-line media for breathlessly reporting rumor as legitimate news and called for more regulatory investigations into whose who feed the gullible or nefarious media rabble.
Jim Chanos is pleading with the online and broadcast media for making crap up? Like, oh, say the summer of 2001, when he set off a flurry of unfounded rumours about a certain energy giant headquartered in Houston, Texas?
Also, we should assume he doesn’t include Bethany McLean in this horror show of hypocrisy since he’s working in tandem with Bethany McLean to destroy an Australian bank.
Chanos cited recent travails at a well-known New York investment bank that’s still around (yes, that one) that was the subject of repeated unsourced reports on a certain well-known business television channel (guess). The reports hammered the bank’s share price.
Chanos said he happened to be on his firm’s trading desk on that particular day, right in the thick of trader-land, where rumors are as rife as market positions.
“I run the world’s largest short-selling fund,” Chanos told the SIFMA conference. “We hear everything. That day we didn’t hear any rumors (about the bank).”
“Some of our financial journalists are MAKING the news,” said Chanos. “And blogs are saying things and reporters are reporting it as news.”
Whatever could he mean by this? [Note to self: cancel next year's attendance at the Bears In Hibernation meeting.]
Chanos is calling for more government investigations into where journalists are getting phony tips that they foist on the market as news. “There are IM messages, email records, taped phone calls. This is not hard. Inspector Clouseau could do it.”
Hm. Chanos was friends with Spitzer; they shared Spitzer’s little prostitute – so I must assume that by “government” he means “prosecutors who will attack the companies I am shorting and therefore make me more billions of dollars. Like Spitzer.”
“A lot of this is just being manufactured to sell stories and get ratings.”
I am sick of this allegation. Not just for me [I have never been accused of manufacturing stories] but for blogs in general. There is simply no way to make up something and then have it broadcast as news. There are too many fact-checkers. Even friendly ones. If I reported something exciting, I’m sure the other right wing/ financial blogs would look into it, and either verify it or not. This allegation is one reason I always put the source link in my news posts; that way readers can see exactly where I’m getting my information. This “no editorial control” argument is silly and unfounded. Paul Berliner, for instance, was a Wall Street trader, charged with securities fraud and market manipulation for intentionally spreading false rumours about The Blackstone Group’s acquisition of Alliance Data Systems (ADS) while selling ADS short. He spread his rumours via Instant Message – not blogs. Paul Berliner is the last rumour-monger I’ve heard about – so if there is a blogger out there manipulating markets, I don’t know about it.
I think Chanos’s complaint is not really directed at bloggers anyway; it’s a way for him to scare off the shorting competition. He knows that bloggers will report this and see him advocating government involvement, and information will constrict, thereby giving Chanos and his short seller cronies another advantage.
But Chanos actually is at a disadvantage when it comes to using the internet. Based on his comments, it’s clear he doesn’t really understand the internet and the fact that the great thing about it is that we can double-check each other. We can check the mainstream media, then we can pick up the phones and call the sources ourselves to verify. There’s really no such thing as a rumour on the blogs because as soon as somebody puts out something questionable, a thousand people jump on it and either debunk or verify. And if its verified, it goes viral. Beautiful.