“Don’t Just Do Something – Sit there!”

All too frequently, decisions are made when none need to be.

There is an old trading expression: 

    "Don’t Just Do Something – Sit there!"

Its an old aphorism for traders. The need to DO something often forces people to act when they need not — they deviate from their plan, make mistakes, just to remove their "itch."

Sometimes doing nothing is the best course of action; Do not, hoever, confuse this with indecision, or "paralysis by analysis."

Let’s have a look at CNBC: 

The Market’s still been rough for a coupla years — and their viewership is way down; Too many of the adverts on CNBC are of the cheesy, low-rent variety for me to think that the ad revenue is doing well.

I can just imagine the GE higher ups saying: "Viewership is down, ad sales are down, revenues are down — send someone in to fix it, pronto."

That’s a classic "Don’t just sit there, do something!" issue. In trading, the mistake shows up in your P&L; In show business, the same error will merely be someone getting blame (or credit) for fixing something which is a) not broke and 2) likely beyond anyone’s control.

In the 1990s, equities were the national pastime. The Market was the NY Yankees, Chicago Bulls and Dallas Cowboys rolled into one. Everyone rooted for their favorite team stock. CNBC was the ESPN highlight show of around the World Series, March Madness and Superbowl time — all at once.

Its not that CNBC is broken — at least, not in the sense they think it is — its just that the wheel has turned.

Instead of recognizing this is a post-bubble, secular bear market, with reduced interest in equity markets TV, they try to "fix" whats not broken.

The great irony is that they will do this a few more times over the next 5 – 10 years, and suddenly, one of the revamps will actually appear to work. Whoever the wunderkind behind it will get all sorts of accolades, and a promotion. And He/she will have almost nothing whatsoever to do with the improvement.

The wheel will have turned . . .

For more on this, check out Rob at Business Pundit. He has an interesting discussion going on whether its "Better to Be Right Than Decisive?"


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  1. Jon H commented on Jan 29

    “The Market’s still been rough for a coupla years — and their viewership is way down;”

    They should talk to Nielsen, etc, to figure out how to track viewership in places like health clubs, if that isn’t already being done.

    At my gym, and I’m sure in many across the country, each treadmill, stairmaster, or elliptical has its own independently-controlled LCD TV. I bet lots of people tune into CNBC during their workouts. (If for no other reason than that people at gyms are often image-conscious, and watching CNBC looks a lot better than watching Maury Povich or Jimmy Neutron.)

    I’d think that this would be a pretty desirable audience. The screens at my gym have controls which make channel-surfing impractical, so viewers are more of a captive audience than most – thus more likely to see your commercial. And, of course, no TiVO.

    Granted, there is a question about just how attentive a person is after 45 minutes on a machine. And people really pushing it likely don’t give much attention to what’s on-screen, if they even turn it on. (When running on the treadmill, the screen may shake so much it’s almost unreadable.) But I’d bet many of the older and more affluent viewers are probably those who are not working out at triathlete levels.

  2. Keyser Soze commented on Jan 29

    Sometimes, the hardest thing to do, is to do nothing at all.

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