If anyone needs any any evidence that the Wall Street Journal is a mere prenteder in comparison to Pearson’s Financial Times, they need look no farther than Dancing The Freakout – Was Jim Cramer Right?. Of course one piece doesn’t make a newspaper, but attributing early call of The Arrival of The Big One to Mr Cramer – a mere housetop weatherwane – albeit a Tourette’s-affected one – is absurd, though perhaps not an unexpected one for The Journal.
The primary difference begins with both media organizations obviously need to serve their respective audiences. The quality of the output initially reflects this. But why should the FT feel compelled to constantly scratch under the skin of capitalism (and prevailing politics) whilst the WSJ cheerleads, rarely ruffles feathers, and maintains the narrowest (and most dogmatic) of political lines – the former evidenced again in this piece by asking the most fatuous of questions, rather entertaining pre-emptive thoughts about how “the market” might be wrong?
I believe that it is a function of “class”, eschewed as the term may be in America, and most American analyses. For in Britain, the City readers of the FT knew their class inherently. Mobility was poor, and along with one’s class, one’s political interests were implicitly understood. And so a far more factual, unintermediated approach evolved, with opinion segregated and flagged. The readers of the Wall St. Journal being aspirational, were far amorphous and without solid class affiliations and attendant interests, far more politically malleable. And so the Journal editors took it upon themselves to shape and mold the opinion of numerous fence-sitters into the dubious but doctrinaire fold of the inviolable primacy of the free market, with all its political baggage. In perfect markets, this may be tolerable, but in a modernity where business interests have captured the flag, investment in rent-seeking is often more attractive than capital investment, oligopoly’s are rife, the potential for the mouthpiece of the market to morph into something not dissimilar from Radio Pyangyang is a clear and present danger.
It is precisely the FTs confidence that gives it the freedom to critical analyse anything and everything pursue systemic faults objectively. For despite their role as protaganist for capitalism, there are no sacred cows that threaten their, and their reader’s position. It is understood implicitly that ironing out the kinks in the market and the system, however inimical to one special interest or another enhances the their positions. It is this same confidence that allows it to comfortably inject collegiate humour, satire and parody – as seen in Lex, or FT Alphaville – something completely absent from the strident, over-earnest, near-paranoid dogmatism one witnesses in the Journal.
So one year on, asking whether Cramer is “Da’ Man” for his syphilitic rant really misses the point, which should be: Where was he (and this refers to all Cramers and their mindless ilk) during the prior four years? Why wasn’t he ranting about the sheer stupidity of Americans withdrawing equity from their homes en masse at increasingly inflated prices? Why, pray tell was he not doing angry cartwheels in regards to the PBoCs absurd accumulation of USD reserves to prevent a classical BW correction of the USD relative to the RMB? Why was he not flagging the Bush tax cuts and lack of US energy policy as massively shortsighted endeavors with imminent and meaningful negative consequences for the entire nation (and perhaps the financial system of the entire world)?? Where was the outcry when AGs fed sat at nearZIRP, woefully behind the curve? And one can go on, but I’ve already beaten it to death.
There is a reason I eschew The Journal except when I am stranded without my own material and find a copy laying about upon the airline seat next me, which is rarely if ever…