It was a slow news week as Hurricane Irene gathered momentum just off the coast of the Southeastern United States. Congress was away. The President in the Vineyard…Ghaddafi’s regime haltingly coming to an end. That was it. Even Republican Presidential Hopefuls were quiet. So, it was no wonder then, that the vast media beast that is this country’s network news machines lept upon this storm and proclaimed doom for 65 million people.
New York City closed down its Mass Transit System. The PGA-Fedex Playoffs quit after 54 holes and the Northeast braced for terror, rape and pillage as the dark 80-mile wide, marauding “Irene” raged unrelentingly forward at 15 miles per hour. Team Coverage stood ready in all major markets intent on prized, exclusive footage of some tragedy as it unfurled, shockingly “right before our eyes”.
And what happened?
There was a storm. Trees came down. Flash floods in spots where it always floods when there’s heavy wind and rain. High winds knocked power out, as they usually do. A tired, old, hot road that most likely should have been shored up years ago, gave way in 5 places – when was the last time anyone did anything to reinforce Highway 12 in North Carolina? A newish million dollar mansion, built too close to the water, was washed away… while the grand ladies (filmed in projects like ‘The Nights at Rodanthe’) remain resolute, watching all in stoic stature, impervious.
Yes, some towns have experienced losses… but was it the devastation of Japan’s recent tsunami, as the media hype led us to expect?
This is why I have long warned investors to be wary of constant media coverage, one day up, one day down. The massive machine that is the US news media is a voracious beast that needs constant feeding, and they will overstate stories in order to snag higher ratings and seem more important. We need to always take the long view. We especially need to take note that non-stop SHOUTING by the press–this weekend it was the weather press–will be an INSTANT tip off that they are employing emotion rather than intellect. Turn the TV/radio/press off when it sways from strictly fact-based reporting (there isn’t much of that anymore unfortunately) to veins-popping-emotional-hype.
Keep in mind the words of Forbes magazine publisher, Steven Forbes —
“You make more money selling advice than following it. It’s one of the things we count on in the magazine business – along with the short memory of our readers.”
(while he addressed the Anderson School at UCLA, on April 15, 2003.)
There’s nothing that beats a balanced approach to life; and this same balance is vital in your investment portfolio. You do not want to follow Edgar Casey and be all in T-bills, you do not want to be all in CDs (like so many of our parents and grandparents who survived world wars and lived in a very different time.) You need to match the investment instrument to the need you have for money… in other words, you need a plan; a carefully crafted plan. A plan that you stick to, whether it rains or the wind blows or whatever else the media claim is the Disaster Du Jour!