Really Bad Call: SubPrime Doesn’t Matter, Buy Bear Stearns

In light of my earlier rant about PHSI, we introduce today a new and continuing series: Really, Really Bad Calls — in research, print or TV.

A few ground rules: We are not talking just a single bad call, or even a few — but rather, a person’s
entire oeuvre. When a guy with a good track record gets a call wrong, we give him the benefit of the doubt, and he gets a pass. When some idiot insists that Housing is bottoming for 3 years, they are fair game.

No, we are talking serious fuck ups. This is not for merely messing up a bit — we are looking for
something truly special in terms of money losing idiocy. Not just wrong, but brain injuring, wildly
embarrassing, astonishing examples of bad analysis. Wishful thinking,
cheerleading, politically polluted economics, and similar ilk. Stuff so god-damned bad that reading it actually lowers your IQ dozens of points. The kind of wrong that leads to a
bad. Or as my Texan friends say, shit-the-bed-wrong.

David Lereah type wrong.

Consider this marketplace of ideas in action, bringing a little
accountability to those irresponsible pundits who are costing the
investing public money.

Now, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, and I
can be, and all-too-frequently am, as wrong as the next guy. Hey, we expect to be wrong. But I
consider myself merely run of the mill dumb, and taken as a whole, readers
here have made money. What we are looking for is stupendous, horrific, jumbo money losing stupidity.

Which brings us to Ben Stein.

I know I swore off Stein a year ago, but I stumbled across this piece from 12 months ago, I had to remind you of exactly how myopic and, well, just plain incompetent the guy is: From August 2007 Ben Stein: SubPrime Doesn’t Matter, Buy Bear Stearns

The rate of loss in subprime mortgages keeps climbing. In time, perhaps it will double, maybe back to $67 billion. This is a large sum by absolute standards, and I would sure like to have it in my bank account.

But by the metrics of a large economy, it is nothing. The total wealth of the United States is about $70 trillion. The value of the stocks listed in the United States is very roughly $15 trillion to $20 trillion. The bond market is even larger.

You can read it paragraph by paragraph and discover something wonderfully wrong in almost every sentence . . .

Really, why the hell does the NYT insist on publishing this guy? He is a political hack, a terrible economist — and an enormous money loser.

And thats this week’s Really Really Bad Call…


Farewell To Ben Stein (January 2008)

Chicken Little’s Brethren, on the Trading Floor
NYT, August 12, 2007

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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. colonoscopy commented on Aug 8

    BR. Can you adjust your language in your posts. I force my 15 year old son to read you and Sedlak’s blog every day. He doesn’t quite understand everything (yet) but I figure he will be light years ahead of anyone listening to Cramer and the CNBC morons. (excluding Santelli) Thanks

  2. brasil commented on Aug 8

    JJC certainly has to go on that list of money losing call champions…though he redeems himself by simply acting as if he never said what he said…or wrote what he wrote..on a daily basis…and then he will tout his Bernanke meltdown as clairvoyance

  3. b commented on Aug 8

    Once the NYT finds someone they like, they use them forever as a spokesperson for whatever part of the culture they supposedly represent.

    It’s really quite annoying.

  4. Troy commented on Aug 8

    The total wealth of the United States is about $70 trillion

    Here we have a basic mistake of taking valuation for wealth.

    Wealth, at its most basic, is human knowledge and hard goods that satisfy human needs and wants.

    Market caps are not “wealth”, they are simply the product of price per share x number of shares outstanding. In times of speculative excess the valuations can get way away from the intrinsic values, the actual wealth of the company and nation.

    Land values are a particularly ephemeral type of “wealth”. Just ask the guy who paid billions of yen for real estate in Ginza 20-odd years ago.

  5. Penguin commented on Aug 8

    Finally someone said it – Ben Stein is a joke! Cheers to that!

  6. Jeff commented on Aug 8

    Yes, yes, yes. More of this is needed. CNBC just had Joe Lasagna (I mean LaVorgna) Chief Econmist from Deutsche on trying to explain away his bad calls (and others) and why he and many of his Wall St. car salesmen/flacks had it so wrong. Their (Pisani, etc.) was that most of the “good” research analysts had left the sell side for the buy side, namely hedge funds. It was a bit weak, but at least a start on their part.

  7. Michael commented on Aug 8

    I wonder if ol Ben used any of “Ben Stein’s money” to BUY Bear.

    As for bad calls – I’m trying to figure out why ANYONE is buying financials today – Umm, didn’t Fannie just report a loss that was more than twice as large as expected? This entire ‘rally’ is a world record bad call..

  8. Rich Shinnick commented on Aug 8

    Isn’t Ben Stein an actor? I thought he was just role playing in a paid gig?

    Did somebody actually take him serious?

    Good lord!

    Seriously, he has the same problem as many, no ground level intelligence, no idea what is really going on on the real world, no idea how bad the fraud was, how out of control the greed was, no idea how removed from consequences those writing the loans were. Many like Ben Stein, Larry Kudlow, etc. simply had a blind spot for this because they did not see it on the ground and they ignored those who did.

  9. Donkei commented on Aug 8


    I too encourage my kid (14) to read your blog. It’s not like he’s never heard bad language–I’m a most talented cusser myself–but still.

    In an attempt to (sorta) clean up my act, I recently changed expletives. Since most are based on religion, I turned to using the first name of the head of the secular religion of my home state, Nick Saban (Alabama’s football coach), anytime I would otherwise use an expletive, e.g., Nicking, Nicked up, Nick you, etc.

    Perhaps you could do something similar w/ Ben Stein? Benning, Steined up, Ben you.

    Just a thought.

  10. Jeff commented on Aug 8

    Michael: Am trying to figure out the same thing. Anyone have any answers? Do the actual financial results even matter anymore for the financial stocks? Is this as a result of the “no short selling rule by the SEC and/or the implicit guarantee the government has given the financial services sector as a whole? Other than that, how can the rally in financials be justified?

  11. Namazu commented on Aug 8

    Tom Brown on subprime. Fish in a barrel. Virtually anything he’s written at or said on TV will do. And the scary thing is he’s back on calling a bottom in financials.

  12. 12th Percentile commented on Aug 8

    I believe the concept behind this column is flawed. Ben Stein is a shill. As are the rest who make these idiotic statements. They are PAID to say these things. Plenty of people will lie for money. They know what they are saying is wrong as far as the predictions they are making. They don’t care that it is wrong according to most ethical standards.

    Does anyone honestly think Yun just happened to be that stupid and completely unable to analyze the housing markets AND ended up in that job?

    Yun, Stein, Kudlow, etc. You think they are wrong. But from their perspective everything is going perfectly well. Their pay is not tied to their predictive ability, it is tied to their ability to sell the talking points of their corporate masters. There are never any recessions for the members of Shillville because it pays so well.

    They know they are lying.

  13. NoTimeToThink commented on Aug 8

    Woah! What a hatchet job!

    He never said that we were nearing the end of the subprime crisis. He said, instead, that he didn’t know how big it was going to get.

    He never said to buy Bear Stearns. Instead, he said that he didn’t know how deep their problems might run.

    What he did say is that he thought the market was over-reacting to the information that was available. A year later, that’s harder to believe, but this show isn’t finished yet. The market can stay irrational for a long time.

  14. That Guy commented on Aug 8

    You guys with the 14 and 15 year olds have to stop being in denial. They aren’t reading any language here that they’re not currently using with their friends. If anything Barry’s use of colorful language probably increases his cred with them.

    Anyhow, Barry is writing a blog for the investing public, in other words adults, so please do not ask him to make it kiddy proof. His candor makes this blog more readable and interesting and sometimes he says what needs to be said. If you want your financial info sugarcoated, there’s plenty of other outlets for you to force your children to read.

  15. notsofastfriend commented on Aug 8

    Some encourage their teenage children to read this blog and be exposed to some financial realism yet cringe when a little cussing is used. Keep it real Barry. Ben Stein is a major fuck up and no other word best describes him.

  16. gloomy commented on Aug 8

    Bravo Barry!! It’s about time someone introduced the idea of competency into the world of finance. How about a web site with a running accounting of calls titled

  17. Jeff commented on Aug 8

    NoTimeToThink: No, Stein did in fact explicitly write and say that this crisis was no big deal and that it would have a negligible effect on the market and wider economy. I remember it vividly because I read his column every other Sunday in the Times (yes, I still read it for another viewpoint, of which I don’t always agree and this was one case where I thought he had it dead wrong from the get-go).

    BR: Might be time to pull out some of those old Stein columns and post them here.

  18. gloomy commented on Aug 8

    Bravo Barry!! It’s about time someone introduced the idea of competency into the world of finance. How about a web site with a running accounting of calls titled

  19. AnitaMan commented on Aug 8

    What? No Cramer comments? This guy is a total joke – right about as often as Ben Stein. Remember telling people to stay in Bear Stearns the Friday before the collapse?

  20. Jeff commented on Aug 8

    Another thing here – please don’t allow these ne’er-do-wells (to steal a phrase from Kass) to revise history and explain away their brutally bad calls or blame others/other factors for these atrocious calls (e.g. “the markets and economy woudl be fine if not for housing, lack of liquidity, the Fed’s misquided policies, etc.). These folks should factor in such variables when making their forecasts and need to be called to the carpet now.

  21. Mike G commented on Aug 8

    I am shocked, SHOCKED that Ben Stein would be prone to spinning pollyanna-ish propaganda, self-delusion and disastrously poor analysis.

    I mean, if being a longtime Republican party hack and proponent of creationism isn’t a stellar track record for intellectual prescience, I don’t know what is.

  22. Mr. Flibble commented on Aug 8

    Can you adjust your language in your posts?

    Sometimes it is impossible to express one’s feelings about the shills/idiots without using swear words. I’m surprised Barry didn’t tear his keyboard apart with his teeth, getting blood all over the post, as he wrote this.

  23. Scott commented on Aug 8

    NoTimeToThink — I read all of Ben Stein’s columns — and then invested against it.

    He has been very very wrong.

  24. ben commented on Aug 8


    Neat idea for a post, I’m sure you will be able to find plenty of people to choose from.

    I agree with many above, you’ve got to put Cramer on here. Barron’s sort of beat you to that with the cover story they ran some months back. I think his most recent call that I laughed at was after a recent market spike up I watched Mad Money and he was yelling about THE bottom, it was a bull market, blah blah blah, the very next show, and after the market dropped some 200 pts a day later, he then said “I didn’t say EVERYTHING was at a bottom” I get a kick out of the shows daily themes which basically just have to do with whatever the market did that day, reactionary as opposed to forward looking. I believe his last “big” suggestion was to dump everything and put all your money in biotech.

    But hey, he’s not trying to make friends, he’s only trying to make YOU money.


  25. ben commented on Aug 8


    Your post was real funny, I actually laughed out loud.

  26. Deborah commented on Aug 8

    Reading that first comment, it would be interesting getting your 15-year-old to read this out loud “shit-the-bed-wrong…,” but I kind of like the flow…

    This is a prediction of getting it wrong,

    America analyst Jorge Beristain gives Thompson Creek Metals, TC, a $32 price based on a bubbled commodity price for molybdenum. At the current $14 range I give it a watch. Timing is something I never get, but I can’t see moly price remaining as strong as it has been and when it corrects earns will plummet. However, if it takes a year this one will have some good earnings for that period.

  27. AJF commented on Aug 8

    Barry’s post was perhaps the most impassioned yet to the point post I think he has ever made. Awesome stuff-maybe make the subject of the column a weekly post . . . “and this week’s Ben Stein award goes to . . .” I personally would nominate the entire “Fast Money” crowd for the first award. Seriously, I know Cramer has his critics, but at least he tries to teach some market fundamentals; the ass clowns currently on FM have destroyed a great concept- it was an intriguing weekly segment on the now defunct “On The Money” with Bolling and Strazzini. This was when the show was at its apex; now I truly wonder how much wealth these jokers have destroyed for the pathetic viewers who somehow feel compelled to watch. By the way, any sell-side analyst should have as much credibility as a realtor or used car salesman: “What’s it gonna take to get you into this 4/3/3 TODAY!”

  28. Stuart commented on Aug 8

    Just pick 80% of the guests on Kudlow and company…

  29. Scott in Chicago commented on Aug 8

    I’ll just comment on a talking head; a guy so frikkin stupid he makes Maria Bartiromo seem marginally competent by comparison. Dennis Kneale, of all the cheerleading morons on CNBC, is by far the goofiest, “optimism is a trading strategy,” waste of air on the network. It is fitting that Dennis is a Forbes alum, as Steve Forbes, another half assed economic weenie, is the man upon whom Kneale cut his teeth (ok, ewwwww..) Forbes is a legacy, a PHD (Pop Had Dough), who spouts the Jack Kemp bullshit while not having a clue about economic reality and the world in which most of us live. WTF is CNBC doing putting an economic bubblehead like Kneale on my frikkin air? Oh, and why does Maria yell and giggle so much? Is she sitting on something…

  30. Joe L. commented on Aug 8

    I’m not sure you can trust anything this guy says, financial or not, after reading this:
    “I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed … that was horrifying beyond words, and that’s where science — in my opinion, this is just an opinion — that’s where science leads you.”

  31. Eric commented on Aug 8

    Barry, I think this completely trumps Ben Stein’s comments about subprime not mattering. (Note, it’s just a portion of the of the whole piece.): “Yesterday, I postulated that the subprime market is smaller than people think. Now, I am going to go one step further. I am going to say that if the $500 billion in subprime loans from 2006 were simply to default — that’s right, not 5% or 10% or 15% or 20%, which no one is saying, but if 100% were to default — it wouldn’t matter. That’s how broad that market is and that’s how big a move the stock market’s having. I know no one in the media who wants to believe this. Can you imagine how many stories could be generated by the default of $500 billion in mortgages? But I am saying that it would be irrelevant. That’s right, it wouldn’t matter — because it has no effect on the consumer. None. That’s what yesterday’s rally was. It was a rally based on the fact that all of this CDO/subprime woe is so small that it can’t even hurt J.C. Penney.” James Cramer, July 2007. (Looks like we’re both wasting our precious time on this planet now.)

  32. JP commented on Aug 8

    1. Did a person with the handle “colonoscopy” seriously request a language adjustment? Huh?
    I suspect most 15year olds have inventive new language as well.

    2. I am immediately making the public commitment to stop commenting on his Tom Foolery.

    This was a commitment well worth breaking. Excellent post. Perhaps cramer next.

  33. Michael Donnelly commented on Aug 8

    My 11 year old daughter has been pretty sheltered her entire life and goes to Catholic School on the Catholic school only bus. We were discussing curse words (my 9 year old says “oh crap” 100 times a day)

    and they both told me “Oh Dad we know the F word, and the S word, we hear it all the time on the bus”

    14-15 year olds? please…

    BR, I think the real problem isn’t so much rank stupidity, it’s much worse. It’s dishonest cheerleading. Some of these guys like Ben Stein, David L., Laurence Yun, have an agenda and are willing to let folks lose money rather than have their X (company, industry, political agenda) look bad.

    And that ticks me off.

  34. Eric commented on Aug 8

    Quick follow up: It was just 3 weeks after writing those words that Cramer would go on his famous rant about the Fed in August 2007. This ***PROVES*** that Cramer simply took both sides of the trade. And since the market subsequently tanked, he reaches back to the rant and not to bullish talk. But then hey, why not? It’s not as if any of the truth-seeking pundits out there will say boo to him.

  35. Mary commented on Aug 8

    12 Percentile; I agree 100%.

    I saw Stein at a paid gig in 11/07. He was using the same “it is just a $20 billion problem” line then. I absolutely felt he was a paid hack because the moron is speaking to a room full of lenders, bank & non-bank, whom already had first hand experience in the effects of the subprime problem dating back to mid 2006. Just about every financial institution had a residential mortgage unit that was taking massive right downs and reserves by FYE 2006. Th loan problems had been cropping up long before then.

    I think Stein and others were and are paid to paint a rosy picture for as long as possible to allow more time to pass since
    “the big mortgage securitization con” by the Wall Street players.

  36. Jeff commented on Aug 8

    Eric: It’s funny (actually, it’s not) that CNBC chooses not to play that particular clip of Cramer claiming that if all subprime went bad it would be “no problem”. Instead, they play his little Fed rant like he’s Nostradamus or something. The problem is 95% of the public doesn’t pay enough attention to Cramer or these other so-called “experts'” calls and are apt to believe the few times they may actually be somewhat “right”. It just frustrates the crap out of me.

    On a brighter note – the word “assclown” gets a chuckle out of me every time. Thanks to this blog, I’ve been introduced to it.

  37. scorpio commented on Aug 8

    Russia sends tanks, troops (who knew they still had troops?) across their border, oil and commodities plummet, US stocks soar. i confess, i have no idea what’s going on in the world anymore.

  38. lurker commented on Aug 8

    BEN DOVER!!!! = Nixon flack.

  39. Jeff commented on Aug 8

    THNK YOU, Eric. Unfortunately I have CNBC on in the background in my home office every day and I followed/remember virtually all of Cramer’s calls last year, especially his quick flip-flopping from the “everything’s fine” mantra (stock market’s going to 14,600 by year end) to the now-famous (infamous) Fed tantrum. Your memory is 1,000% spot on accurate. What’s depressing is that virtually nobody will take Cramer on and call him on this bull shit. A bunch of ass-clowns they are……

  40. Jeff commented on Aug 8

    If it hasn’t been done already, someone should start a blog devoted to ALL of Cramer’s calls and document them carefully so that he can’t revise history.

    I might even do it myself if it hasn’t already been done. Surely there’s a market/audience for this?

  41. jm commented on Aug 8

    What about Vince Farrell? The many calls for the bottom in financials began in September, as I recall. Is he still waiting for the first round of “dramatic” write-downs to be written-up?

  42. Steve Barry commented on Aug 8


    I too feel in the twilight zone…especially after caruso Cabrera just said on CNBC “make insider trading legal.”

    But housing still has to fall 30-40%…the dollar rally is foretelling a Eurozone recession…earnings, which have had their foreign components goosed 10% by that weak dollar, will now be facing headwinds. Central banks will now be competitively devaluing currencies. Deflation is upon us.

  43. juvenile_delinq commented on Aug 8

    Sh#t Yeah, Who the F#ck in their right mind would want their kid to be so damn messed up and depressed by the age of 14 or 15 by reading this blog?

    I know G-D, it will make them smarter and edumacate them some, but the fact is let them be and enjoy their time being carefree.

    Too much info is bad for the brain… Ben, Ben, Ben, calling Ben Dickwart Stein do you hear me… Read your messages sometime, MR BEN STEIN…

    Now kiddies run along and here is a new word to share with your friends, FUDGEPACKER.


  44. Mike in NOLa commented on Aug 8

    Well, he did have a good TV show….

    To those concerned about the language, if you aren’t home schooling the kids, they are hearing much worse at school, even a religious one.

    Donkei: “Saban” is an expletive in Louisiana. His statements are as trustworthy as Thain’s.

    Ballad of Nick Saban: LSU Fans Are Enjoying This Too Much

  45. scott commented on Aug 8

    Have to agree with the commenter on the cast of Fast Money. That group is consistently wrong on almost every topic. They seem to have no sense of what the market is doing or why, but each will claim that they do.

  46. Parent A commented on Aug 8

    A little odd that a parent would force a 15 year old kid to read an adult blog about current financials and still try to shield them from the word shit. Is that even possible?

  47. Steve Barry commented on Aug 8

    Dollar index pushing 76…in 1Q08, it averaged 76. If the dollar continues to rally or stay flat, multi-nationals without a major material input (eg Internet companies) will be warning left and right…their dollar tailwind will be gone and may become a headwind.

  48. BenSteinery commented on Aug 8

    Here’s a cheat: Every week, pull a Ben Stein column. Diary it for a year. Voila! Instant Really Bad Call!

    PS: His initials are B.S. What more do you need to know?

  49. Donkei commented on Aug 8

    To: That Guy and Donnelly, et al,

    I’m not stupid enough to think my kid doesn’t hear cussin’ (that’s what we call it down here) Hell, he hears it enough from me, which is what I said in my post.

    When he was five he finished a sentence of mine when somebody pulled in front of me–I caught myself before I finished what the f—? and he said, “yeah, what the fuck, Dad?”

    Because society generally frowns on hearing cuss words from children, I have tried to tone down my language around them, hence using “Nick” and its derivatives in place of other expletives.

    I just think it would also work w/ Ben Stein, sorta like BR used to use “Ben Steinery” to convey idiocy, instead I’m saying to just use him in place of an expletive.

    By the way, my fourteen year old son won’t cuss at all. I think it’s his way of rebeling and showing me up. I think I should start smoking dope, too, just to make sure he stays away from it.

  50. AGG commented on Aug 8

    I know this is privileged information, but I’m sure a great many people would love a daily (or even weekly) snapshot of market moving long trades and who made them. It would go a long way to prove that any confidence in this market is misplaced.

  51. Ritchie commented on Aug 8

    BS (Ben Stein): “…it wouldn’t matter — because it has no effect on the consumer.”

    Doing some math, and dividing 500 billion by an estimated $200K per home,… one gets 2,500,000 people–less than 1% of the US population. And I’ve included some BS in my previous sentence. Couldn’t help myself.

  52. Joe commented on Aug 8

    The video you posted of Dennis Kneale yesterday saying housing isn’t that bad and showed the “math” appears to be directly from that Ben Stein column.

  53. Darkness commented on Aug 8

    More like this, please.

    You are reminding me of my cat when the neighbor’s cat saunters up under the window: she doubles in size, her back arches like a cartoon character to 270°, and her tail goes all bottle brush. Nature’s unmistakable don’t-mess-with-my-territory signal.

  54. Niclas commented on Aug 8

    It´s funny that nobody mentions CNBC´s wonderboy Dennis “recession? What recession?” Kneale.

    Perhaps he´s to obvious to be a candidate.

  55. Sherman McCoy commented on Aug 8

    Please do not soften up on your use of language as some of these commentors are suggesting. You phrase things the way most guys on Wall Street do. If you were to limit yourself to G-rated language, you’d lose authenticity…

  56. TonyMas commented on Aug 8

    It is true! One can find inaccuracies on almost every paragraph.

    Here’s one of my favorites:

    “But how are the risks in Thailand or Brazil or Indonesia intrinsically related to problems in a housing tract in Las Vegas? ”

    Um, perhaps because foreign governments are one of the largest buyers of agency debt, and Fannie and Freddie have loads of private-label (read: toxic, subprime) CDO’s on their books?

    Here’s another nugget:

    “Much more to the point, the fears and terrors about subprime mortgages have helped knock off 6.7 percent of the stock market’s value in recent weeks. This amounts to about $1.1 trillion, or more than 30 times the losses so far in the subprime market.”

    Financial write-downs alone are now estimated to be at least $1 trillion dollars, and some economists think it can be as high as $2 trillion.

    And then there’s this little gem:

    “But how are most of the Dow 30 affected by subprime mortgages in any meaningful way? No Dow company is short of liquidity, and consumer spending is still strong.”

    Citigroup and BofA are both in the Dow 30, and they’ve had to raise all kinds of capital. GM has cash, but is burning through it really fast. Could car and truck sales be slow due to declines in home equity withdrawals? Methinks it so. Taken as a whole, the Dow companies now lose money overall, meaning they subtract from economic growth, rather than contribute to it.

    And finally:

    “For European markets to fall on subprime issues makes no sense.”

    Last I checked, UBS is a Swiss bank and has been one of the hardest hit due to exposure to crappy CDO’s, failure of auction rate securities, and other sketchy derivative investments. Ben’s buddy Phil Gramm can tell him all about this.

  57. JJ commented on Aug 8

    Icing on the cake: Ol’ Ben wrote that recessions are measured by GDP…

    For an economist not to know the basics, or bother the check over at NBER.ORG, that’s inexcusable.

  58. clipb commented on Aug 8

    yeah, i actually sent him an email going over the article piece by mistaken piece and, shockingly(?), i never heard back. he really is an arrogant nitwit. as so often these (and most) daze, the phrase “often wrong, but never in doubt” comes to mind. keep up the good work, my boy.

  59. dwkunkel commented on Aug 8

    I’m continually amazed by the complaints about CNBC on this blog. If you don’t like what you find there, don’t watch it.

  60. Kurt Milne commented on Aug 8

    Really bad calls

    Greenspan fed ~2004 – risk of DEFLATION justifies holding rates at 1% for a long time.

    Paul Wolfowitz – “the Iraq war will pay for itself”. He was promoted to President of the world bank after that call. Any baboon could guess a number between plus/minus $2Trillion and been and made a better call.

  61. Mark E Hoffer commented on Aug 8

    I know this is privileged information, but I’m sure a great many people would love a daily (or even weekly) snapshot of market moving long trades and who made them. It would go a long way to prove that any confidence in this market is misplaced.

    Posted by: AGG | Aug 8, 2008 2:34:20 PM

    I’ll endorse that idea, that could be a great feature series..

    and, this: I’m continually amazed by the complaints about CNBC on this blog. If you don’t like what you find there, don’t watch it.

    Posted by: dwkunkel | Aug 8, 2008 3:52:54 PM

    never hurts to remember to keep it simple, if it’s complex, it’s probably wrong.

  62. chad commented on Aug 8

    talk about cherry picking…..sheesh……barry, as i recall, you weren’t a screaming bull during this past bull market…..and i guess bill miller is now done, never can get anything right……..because, basically, he was in the ben stein trade for a long time now. i suggest you read his most recent commentary


    BR: Cherry picking Ben Stein? Are you blind? Pull any 5 random columns of his, and 4 of them are guaranteed crapola.

    As to my track record, I’ll put it up against any one of these idiots — we’ve been positive every year (one negative quarter). I was bullish on tech stocks in late 2002, and called an end to the Bear in 2003, we were bullish on Oil when it crossed $32, on Gold and Japan ’04; I aggressively warned people away from financials and home builders starting around August 2005.

    Are you somehow suggestion that not being a screaming bull into a 20% selloff is somehow a bad thing?

  63. Steven commented on Aug 8

    The king of the bad calls has got be Alan Greenspan: productivity miracle at the 2000 top, lower the FFR to 1% and holding it there, suggesting ARM’s are better, there is no housing bubble, financial innovation is helping subprime and dispersing risk, etc.

    Then there’s Hank Paulson: instantly flushing his credibility down the toilet by joining the Bush administration, getting China to unpeg to the $USD, we have a strong dollar policy, super SIV, it’s contained, etc.

    Regarding the objectionably obscene and vulgar language: I was raised in a very conservative and sheltered family but I knew these words by the time I was eight years old in 1964. Surely these words are part of the language of pre-schoolers by now. Get over it.

  64. JR commented on Aug 8

    How about TOM BROWN????!!!!!????

    He’s on CNBC again talking about the July 15th bottom. This guy has denied the credit crunch for the past year now. I guess one of these days he’ll be right about the bottom….and then a year later he can gloat about how wonderful a call it was. So you nailed it? But of how many!?!?!?!

    How much money does he have to lose people before they pull the plug on him? OH YEAH, CNBC needs morons like this to sucker in the public! How do people like this guy look at themselves in the mirror? How do they sleep at night?

  65. Jeff commented on Aug 8

    I’m continually amazed by the complaints about CNBC on this blog. If you don’t like what you find there, don’t watch it.

    Posted by: dwkunkel | Aug 8, 2008 3:52:54 PM

    I think we’re all gluttons for punishment. You’re right, might be time to turn it off, but what other option do I have, FAUX Business Channel? I don’t have the Bloomberg Channel, otherwise, I’d watch that.

    Besides, it provides good comedy and fodder to flog and expose on blogs like these. That’s far too much fun to stop doing.

  66. mark mchugh commented on Aug 8

    While were on the subject of skyrocketing your blood pressure, you’ll never guess who I saw on TV this past week. Your pal and mine, former Bear Stearns Chief Economist David Malpass.

    Sorry, but I can’t tell you who he’s working for or what he was saying (it’s all toilet sounds, if you know what I mean). I just wanted to make sure you knew he’s still out there…spewing away (Forbes).

    Good Weekend

  67. BVF commented on Aug 8

    semi strong form

  68. bluestatedon commented on Aug 8

    Colon and Donkei, I sympathize 100% in your desire to reduce the exposure of your kids to untoward cussing (I remember well my efforts along those lines with my daughter), but I think there is a vast difference between a blue streak by Barry on this blog and the vile crap spewing out of your average hiphop video, for example. The impact is correspondingly different, too. There’s plenty of foul language in Lady Chatterly’s Lover, but if you had to make the choice between your kid reading that or viewing some porn video with the same sort of swearing, I’m sure you’d be able to see the the yawning gulf between the two. Your kids will survive the occasional blue word here.

    And besides, there are some circumstances in which strong oaths are not only appropriate, they’re necessary for mental health. The near-daily idiocy issuing from such dolts as Ben Stein and Lawrence Yun require a strong antidote.

  69. VennData commented on Aug 8

    I’ll admit my bad call: a grand coalition ticket of Gingrich/Edwards (order not important) seems to only be attractive to the lounge lizard set.

  70. MarkD commented on Aug 8

    I agree with the no ben steinery concept but what about the no greenspanery????

    just this week he was on cnbc saying you can’t have a hybrid like fannie or freddie. where was he when he was on the goverment payroll to manage the economy??? I mean Cramer, Knele, Kudlow et al don’t have their hands in my pocket. The advice you get from them is worth exactly what you paid for it.

  71. PhatMary commented on Aug 8

    Barry, why are so obsessed with Ben Stein? whats the dynamic going on there?


    BR: 1 post in 8 months is obsessed?

  72. wunsacon commented on Aug 9

    Joe L.,

    That BS quote:

    >> I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed … that was horrifying beyond words, and that’s where science — in my opinion, this is just an opinion — that’s where science leads you.”

    is astonishing on several levels.

    Thanks for posting it.

  73. Michael commented on Aug 9

    All the Stein bashing aside.. you HAVE to admit that he really was great in Ferris Bueller’s Day off.

    Bueller… Bueller.. Bueller???

  74. Greg0658 commented on Aug 9

    Ebb Tide written in 1953 by lyricist Carl Sigman and composer Robert Maxwell

    human attention is always looking for something new … edgy seems to be a commercial success these days

  75. tfortx commented on Aug 9

    Why would anyone use such profanity to describe Ben Stein? Ben is fantastic. Ben is wonderful. Ben is great. Ben is OPPORTUNITY. Trade against Ben. Ben and his like can make you lots of money.

  76. praetorian commented on Aug 9

    I think the NY times keeps Ben Stein around because he is possibly the most embarrassing and overconfident conservative available. SImply, he makes us look bad.

    Yeah, yeah. Perfect setup for a “It ain’t the dress that makes you look fat…” joke.


  77. Barry commented on Aug 9

    To answer a few emailers:

    There is a difference between being wrong — I called it “run of the mill” wrong, and someone who is purposefully, willfully misrepresentating reality.

    I tried to make it clear in the beginning, but I guess I have to emphasize that more .

    Bottom line: Does the person help readers reach the “Truth” or are they specializing in muddying the water.

    There are a long lists of people who are wrong — but I give some quarter to those people who have a methodology, and make a legitimate effort to see both sides. I could go back to the 70s, 80s, or 90s, but that would be pointless.

    I chose to start with Ben Stein because he is that dangerous combination of a liar, idiot and persuasive talker. People who followed his advice lost lots and lots of money.

  78. EDF commented on Aug 9

    Barry, you’re right about Ben Stein but ‘enough already’.

    Steve Barry makes a good point about the headwinds that international companies will now face as the euro loses value. In fact, a european recession will put the euro zone in even more danger if Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain and Belgium try to free themselves from the euro. Yet another shoe to drop.

  79. Darkness commented on Aug 9

    Barry, why are so obsessed with Ben Stein? whats the dynamic going on there?


    BR: 1 post in 8 months is obsessed?

    It does seem more often, but I think that’s because the mark you leave takes that long to fade. ;-)

  80. Eric20008 commented on Aug 11

    Sticking to your bottom line question as to why the NYT continues to print a seriously unworthy commentator like Ben Stein, let us remember that the newspaper is run by the progeny of its founding families as a private fiefdom. When they can, they employ their friends/aquaintaqnces as local commentators or purported intellectuals blessed by their circle (currently including Kristol and Stein). And this inbreeding results in precisely the addled incompetence on display at the Times. Why should we be surprised by the product if the selection process is so personal and idiocyncratic?

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