Thursday, January 26, 2012

Good News is Not Considered "News"

The Dow has risen steadily since December.  But the news media does not report this as 'news'.

I was doing my monthly net worth calculation to see how things were going.  Now that we are out of debt, it is an easier calculation to make.  And as I have noted before, it can be a dangerous number to look at.  If your investments do well, you may end up thinking you are "rich" and go out and spend money - or worse yet, borrow it - and end up in trouble.

That WAS one cause of the "meltdown" of the last decade - we all saw our portfolios and home values go up, up, up, and thought, "well, I've got money, why not spend some?"  But since our money was tied up in houses and 401(k) plans, we borrowed to spend.  We did not spend the actual money.  So when it all went horribly wrong, we were in debt and our paper "assets" were worth less (but not worthless).

But I digress...  yet once again.

What was interesting to me was the fact that all my accounts were way up - by enough to buy a nice new Camry, with a leather interior.  Hybrid.

Still down from April 2011, where we were flying really high.   But way up from December.  And yet, well, why hasn't the media reported this?  We hear all the gloom-and-doom about how the market tanked in December (see chart above).  But the bounce-back in the last month has been pretty spectacular.

Yet, when I think about the news over the last four weeks, all I recall is "Dow ends the week down" and other negative headlines.  I only recall a few positive headlines, for example, about the year-end rally (which looks pretty podunk, in retrospect).  All you hear is "Dow Down" it seems.

As I noted before, long-term trends that are gradual are not news and not noticed.  You put aside $50 a week, and by age 65 are a millionaire.  No one notices.  You win a million dollars in the lottery, and it is headline news in your home town.

Long-term, slow trends, are rarely reported by the news.  Bad news and sudden occurrences, are.  Getting your information from the news is thus a really bad idea, as all you get exposed to is sensationalistic events and bad news trends.  You do not see the whole picture.