Ignore the News

A year later, National Review Online is still going on about the IRS emails long after most people stopped caring, including republicans such as myself. Did bad stuff happen? Probably. Will there be a resolution that satisfies the republicans? Probably not. Does the outcome effect your life? Nope. There are two things in the world: things you can control and things you cannot. Typically, what separates happy, successful people from everyone else is they tend to focus on the former. Furthermore, getting wound up abut foreign affairs or politics never made anyone a buck or filled a void of personal emptiness. Case in point, how did Darrell Issa, the republican congressman of California who is leading the charge against Learner, get rich? He got rich selling car alarms – a very non-newsy, non-partisan endeavor.

News has a self life, upon which if there is no smoking gun or escalations, the story almost always dies – despite the best efforts by the click-hungry hacks to keep it going. That’s what happened to the Chris Christie bridge scandal. With no smoking gun to implicate Christie, the story died, although the damage to his reputation will linger. The left was certain Christie was doomed – after all, the story was all over Druge, and he would never hype an unsubstantiated story for traffic – only to come up short, yet again, when actual damning evidence was due and no one could deliver the goods. Same for Putin and Crimea. Lots of hype, no follow-though. I can go on and on with probably a dozen examples of stories that were supposed to be a big deal that fizzed with days or weeks.

Meanwhile, stocks keep going up. The people that buy stocks on the dips and sell volatility quietly make money, letting the pundits in the news-sphere chew each other’s heads off. You can rest assured that if you ignore the news, it will always be there when you return. But opportunities to make money in stocks is money on the table that is lost forever. When the S&P 500 goes up from 1900 to 2000 and you have nothing invested, that’s money you could have had, but you don’t. The market has risen relentlessly since 2009, only punctuated by very brief sell-offs. You think Crimea will undo the $50 trillion global economy? Going further back, it always pays to stay in. No one can predict bear markets. Not a single pundit and or investing firm has successfully called the past three bear markets. Maybe some have and are keeping it a secret, but no one has done so publicly. If you read this blog, we present many arguments for how – despite all the doom and gloom – the economy is still fundamentally sound and that stocks will keep going up, so you should feel confident in not selling, but your confidence may be shattered if you read the news too much.

The takeaway is that 99% of the time what is supposed to be a big deal is just a speedbump. Our attention is valuable. The media, especially the click-bait dominated world of online media, should take heed that if they keep crying wolf over minutia, they may lose readers that have become frustrated over the deadend stories and promises of scandal and crisis that never come to fruition. Like in poker, if you got a good hand or a ‘substantive lead’, play it. If not, keep the cards to yourself and ‘fold’ if necessary. The media is playing every hand, however bad, and in the process dwindling its bankroll of trust among its readers. Still, many seek the news for the the dopamine rush it provides – in anticipation that one day, the headline that they seek that will right the wrongs of the world and fill the missing pieces of their lives will come. It never does.