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Financial Journalism Operating Guidelines

Please excuse this break from the usual nerdery. We will continue the usual unpopular commentary after this brief message.  

The following rules are set forth as a general guideline for the financial journalism industry. Although the rules will not be strictly enforced any breach of the stated rules could result in substantial subtweeting, private email trash talking and substantial LOLing.

I.  The Stop Scaring People Rule. Scaremongering is not to be tolerated except during the middle of a financial crisis or nuclear war. Writing scary articles for the sake of conjuring emotionally driven page views is not a legitimate business model and is generally counterproductive.

II.  The Event Porn Rule. That big sports or entertainment event you’re thinking of writing about probably has no correlation with the financial markets. Please refrain from using this event as a reason to write about the markets.

III. The Crash Call Rule. That pundit who comes on TV predicting financial Armageddon every week is not a “guru” and is directly contributing to poor financial decisions. Please refrain from interviewing him regularly. Also, see Rule I.

IV. The Permabull Restriction. Interviews with permanently bullish Professors from the Wharton School are not informational, educational or useful in any way. Everyone knows the stock market is very likely to rise over the very long-term. This message does not need to be repeated every single week.

V.  The Political Obfuscation Rule. Political commentaries that contradict empirical evidence will not be tolerated.  If you must make a political argument please refrain from trying to square this with a financial market position.

VI. The No Warren Buffett Rule. That article about Warren Buffett is almost certainly useless. You are not the first person to write it and it is not providing anyone with anything useful.

VII. Stop The Seasonality Rule. That article about seasonality (Sell in May, the Santa Claus Rally, etc) is data mining. We do not tolerate data mining in finance and we hope you will refrain from using seasonal events to write the same article year after year.

VIII. The Taleb Rule. We know that Nassim Taleb is smarter than the rest of us, but none of us really understands anything he is saying so please stop trying to explain his views on the financial markets and economics.

IX. The Bubble in Bubbles Rule. If you feel the need to use the word “bubble” please reconsider. This word is only allowed to be used by a select few financial experts (Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller & Robert Shiller).  If you are not one of the names listed in the previous sentence please do not use this terminology.

X. The Crayola Crayons Rule.  Drawing lines on charts or referring to things such as “inverted hammer candlesticks” is not financial analysis. It is an adult version of drawing.  It should also be noted that “head and shoulders” is a type of shampoo, not a useful market indicator. In addition, mentions of the Hindenburg Omen could result in public shaming. As much as we all have fond memories of crayola crayons and drawing this should not be mistaken as a legitimate form of journalism.

XI. The Gold Huckster Rule. That guy who tells us to buy gold every week is not providing objective financial advice. He is selling gold from his company in exchange for the things he is likely telling you to avoid (US Dollars). Please refrain from citing him as a legitimate source of financial news.

XII. No Guru Porn. That “guru” who is in the media every week is not actually saying anything smart. He/she is selling a product and has mastered the art of selling extremist opinions in exchange for eyeballs and emotional responses. He/she should be ignored.