Dawn J. Bennett recently wrote an article “It’s All Fake News” in which she discusses the rise of “fake news” and its implications on our political system and financial markets. According to Bennett, there’s been a recent outcry against fake news, especially considering its impact on the 2016 presidential election. These stories appear to be credible and legitimate but are actually fabricated and designed to go viral throughout the internet. Even Facebook has gone as far to say that they will “do something” about the spreading of fake news.
Bennett notes that exaggerations and lies have been present throughout the history of reporting. The recent Rolling Stones coverage of a gang-rape hoax at UV, Janet Cooke’s imaginary eight-year-old heroin addict, and the 1993 Dateline episode where a truck was set up to explode are all examples of exaggerated and fabricated stories. Then there was Walter Duranty’s reporting for the New York Times that helped Stalin’s Russia hide the Holodomor from the world.
According to Bennett, there’s a systemic and systematic degradation in the quality of news we receive. In fact, there’s a willing collaboration between the mainstream media and government institutions to present manufactured news to the public.
For instance, “The media reports the relentlessly upbeat message of growth and recovery being spouted by the Fed and the White House, and we are left without facts, having to dig through questionable reports to find the real numbers,” says Bennett.
However, Bennett explains that we lie to ourselves also, and the post-election run up in stock prices and bond yields is an example of this.
“The election of Donald Trump resolved a long, ugly period of political uncertainty, and in relief the markets have surged, but corporate earnings have not,” says Bennett. “The S&P 500 is trading at 27.9 times the corporate earnings of the last ten years, a level last seen just before the market crash of 1929. Energy companies have exorbitant p/e ratios, their stocks priced for $115 oil rather than the actual $55. The financial sector is full of problematic stocks that are likely to get a beatdown during earnings reporting season.”
She continues, ” Add to that the fact that many investors are delaying profit-taking for what they perceive to be tax reasons who will be stuck in the middle of the rush to sell, January 2017 seems set to be a bloodbath, the worst we’ve seen since last January’s selloff. And that doesn’t even take into account the effects of the Fed’s interest rate hike, which happened just before a quad witching day when stock index futures, stock index options, stock options and single stock futures expired on the same day last Friday.”
Bennett suggests we dig for the facts ourselves and be on the offensive against passively receiving news that could impact our lives and wellbeing.