Friday, August 26, 2005

The imagination experts

Today I want to take on a pet peeve of mine - hindsight wisdom about the swings of stock prices or exchange rates.

Do you wanna sound like a securities dealer being interviewed about stock price movements? First, make sure you watch the evening news. Scan the latest international newsmags too, they contain a lot of business info. Of course, you've known whether the composite index went up or down.

Then let your imagination soar! Just follow a few rules:

    1. If the index went down, highlight some bad news from last night. This is a good example: Share prices closed 1.01 percent lower yesterday due to concerns about the impeachment complaint filed against President Arroyo as well as rising oil prices, dealers said. (I used to blow my top, shouting, how the hell do they know that? What if the movement is due to something else? What if that something else happened last week, last month, last year? What if it's just plain damn noise? But now I keep my cool. I breathe. I relax. I'll live longer.)

    2. If the market goes down, highlight some positive news. If there are none in the local media, then highlight some good news from abroad. Bullish prospects for economic growth in China and India is a favored one this days.

    3. If 2 is sounding too far-fetched, check if the market was on an uptrend on the previous day. Then invoke "profit-taking".

    4. If you didn't watch or read news at all you lazy bastard, then just say the movement is a "technical correction."

Now allow me to let my imagination soar. Let me propose a computer program which can pair the previous day's price movement, with either a news item, the phrase "profit-taking", and the phrase "technical correction." The program should be written based on 1 to 4, above. A human can then ghostwrite the interpretation with syntax and grammar. Then feed the write-up to the major dailies under a pseudonym. I predict that nobody, just nobody, from the entire business news readership, will be able to distinguish the human-generated from the computer-generated write-ups.

Especially not the dealers.

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