CNBC Publicizes This Blog

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I suppose I should be pleased, since readers wrote to inform me that Charles Gasparino of CNBC made mention of us on Friday (this clip, starting at 1:30) for our coverage of Lehman. However, I would have been happier if the statements made were correct. It’s remarkable that a seasoned journalist would assert that a critic of a company was short its stock, which implies an intent to manipulate its price, with no factual basis for that view, and no effort made to verify that statement. And indeed it is untrue, for I have never been short Lehman or indeed, any stock.

It’s even more remarkable that that same journalist called me a couple of hours later to threaten litigation over the accuracy of my reporting.

As readers of this blog hopefully recognize, we’ve been writing in the financial arena in the hopes of improving the quality of discussion and analysis. We believe in professionalism (despite our unfortunate propensity towards typos), fair reporting and critical thinking, with emphasis on overlooked stories and minority views when we think they have merit. I sometimes get it wrong; like reporters, bloggers are no better than their sources (and while we look for nuance, we can read things incorrectly). Nevertheless, we’ve sometimes had our contrarian perspective become mainstream, as with global warming and the seriousness of the credit contraction.

In this case, we took issue with on-air presentation of a a memornadum from Lehman that Gasparino said was internal and confidential, which presented material financial information that took place after Lehman’s last quarterly release.

This information was presented without any analysis, definitions of terms (such as “liquidity position” at 2:00), or questioning of assumptions (except once when Gasparino said “if correct” relative to Lehman’s stock buyback numbers). Without proper disclosure and understanding how these figures and ratios were arrived at (for instance, as some firms have done with sales of CLOs and certain mortgage portfolios, were these sales financed?), one cannot assess veracity and significance.

I may only be speaking for myself, but I believe blogging has a useful role to play in combatting the inaccuracies and limitations of media reporting. Reporters have told me that companies are so adept at spinning stories that it is impossible to get to the bottom of them in a typical news cycle.

It appears that Gasparino has moderated his posture towards Lehman since reading this blog (although the dramatic selloff Friday may also have had an effect). In the segment where he said he had read our blog the night before, he went to some length to say his reporting was balanced. That’s a shift from his earlier segments on Lehman, where he was pro-Lehman, arguing against the accuracy and credibility of the so-called shorts. For instance, in his earlier reports, he repeatedly says that Dick Fuld is the more believable party, and once used as support the argument that Fuld rescued Lehman from the brink multiple times. Fuld has been CEO since 1993. The side of the issue that seems to have been lost is that Fuld is a recidivist CEO, one who repeatedly takes his company to the edge of survival.

Notice that it was never acknowledged that it’s difficult for a skeptic to analyze claims about financial performance that are made via internal company documents, for example, Lehman’s assertion that leverage levels have been reduced. This sort of campaign neuters any response, since all the critic can do is shadow box.

As for the shift in posture, don’t take my word for it; look at the segments yourself and decide.


Wednesday June 4

Thursday June 5


Friday June 6

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  1. David Pearson


    Journalists mostly have good intentions, but they live or die by their sources. They have to prize access above analysis, and the presentation of the Lehman memo by Gasparino is an excellent example of where that leads: regurgitation of management’s agenda without asking the critical questions.

    No, for the critical questions we have to go to Naked Capitalism, Calculated Risk and other blogs. Thanks for providing that service.

  2. dis


    don’t get intimidated. i’ma an avid reader of you blog.

    while i might not always agree with you, i truly value your analysis as it is always well thought out and researched, clear, cogent and thought provoking.

    keep up the good work!

  3. JAM

    Yves, in my humble opinion your June 5 writeup was spot on. Also I caught those CNBC segments real time. I was wondering when-if it would be addressed here. Glad you noted the change in posture of the journalist. Keep up the good work.

  4. Anonymous

    Gass-bag-rino is a tool. Doesn’t anyone remember his shilling for MBIA and Ambac only a few months ago — with his, “CNBC has learned”, and “according to sources” nonsense. On at least one occassion and I think it might have been more than one but I don’t want to waste my time tracking down the facts (something Gass-bag-rino also doesn’t bother to do) Charlie’s bond-insurer-bailout inside scoops sent the market rcketing by something like 200 points into the close.

    I keep CNBC on all day from 7:00AM to 8:00PM (I am also into self mutilation, but I disgress) so I am well versed in how the content has changed over the years. And I am increasingly amazed that some form of charges or action has not been brought against CNBC as a result of their blatent spreading of misinformation and half-baked analysis with a constant buy, buy buy, from the likes of Cramer, Kneale, Kudlow, Pissani, et. al. Anyone that follows the financial advise given on CNBC will soon find themselves with little or no savings left and working well into their 70’s eating cat food for dinner.

    GE, the parent company, should be embarassed.

  5. Dan Duncan


    It’s at times like these that you should go into that safe place…your inner cave and find the power animal that resides within…and ask:


    What Would Krugman Do? all seriousness, even though I disagree with 90% of what you write…this is, I must admit, a great blog. To do this every day is truly impressive.

  6. Anonymous

    Actually, I like Kudlow. He is a hack, but at least he doesn’t take himself seriously and gives plenty of air time to people he disagrees with. I can’t believe how often he puts on Michael Panzner (spelling?) of Financial Armeggedon. Of course, this is not to say I follow any of Kudlow’s investment advice, but it is good prime time entertainment.

    Kudlow is head and shoulders above some of the clowns they have on during the day. Like that thick rim eye glass wearing, pho artsy looking guy that takes himself too seriously. I have no clue what his name is but he is the ultimate lapdog for the buy buy buy buy and businesses never get it wrong crowd.

  7. Anonymous

    Well done Yves!

    You caught the tail of a whale of a story.

    Stick with it and ride it to the end.

    You know you hit a nerve (and the truth) with Gassbagarino’s litigation threats……..

  8. Tom Lindmark

    When Greg Norman blew a six shot lead in the final round of the Masters, Nick Faldo the winner hugged him and whispered something in his ear. For many years neither would divulge what Faldo said to Norman and then about a year ago they related that Faldo had said, “Don’t let the bastards get you down.” Faldo was referring to the assembled members of the media that were going to tear into Norman.
    It’s great advice for you at this point. You have a right to your opinion and to publish it. Lehman has not been shy about talking up its book and using mouthpieces like Gasparino to do so. The market will eventually tell us who was right.

  9. sk

    I caught one of Gasparino’s comments about you in real time – he said, with evident distaste, “that one of the bloggers someone called “Yves” ( as if to emphasize the non-mainstream nature of the name…..” I may be imagining things but I think the anchor even sneered at the French nature of the name at that time.

    I read your blog all the time and his mis-characterization of the blog and the lack of common courtesy and argument by dissing ( somewhat similar to what McCain is trying to do to Obama ) shocked me but when I relaxed a little, I thought – “Heyyy, you’ve arrived..”

    You do great stuff.


  10. doc holiday wishing you well!

    Gasparino is a slut/whore, and I mean that it the very worst possible gross context — which I’m sure is not beyond his imagination or the depth to how low he would go to do anything unthinkable to anyone!

    His kind of trash-minded mentality and total ignorance makes him an unquestionable symbol for the reason why BIG media has lost touch with reality — not to mention market share.

    Gasparino the manikin is dependent on a staff of air headed monkey’s that are overpaid to hunt down words to implant into his puppet-headed mouth — in hopes that retarded people in couch potato land will suffer through an exercise in mindless atrophication!

    Hope the little idiot takes time to read this but I assume he is a (fill in the slang term here) and would not dare defend himself here and then actually discuss the leverage problems that Lehman has and the reason why CDS is linked to skyrocketing AR debts!

  11. Anonymous

    Re: “he said, with evident distaste, “that one of the bloggers someone called “Yves” ( as if to emphasize the non-mainstream nature of the name.”

    It’s sub-species like this that give animals bad names, like pigs. This pig is a whining windbag that is quickly running out of political oxygen!

    Does anyone think he has a chance to survive in The Obama Era?

  12. Anonymous

    I’m still curious about LEHs AR problems:

    Re: Previous post:

    Bear Stearns Changes in Accounts Receivables exploded 3 fold from 2005 to 2006, then from 2005 to 2007, we see a nice jump from (552,783) up to (17,136,000)

    By contrast, LEH, between 2005 to 2006 had receivables double, while between 2005 and 2007, we see a bump from (3,700,000) to (16,411,000).

    They look like twins!!!!

  13. Lilguy

    Please keep up your excellent work and don’t be put off by so-called journalists such as Gasparino.

    I have found blogs, such as yours, to be an excellent source of new information (call it “reporting”) and insight (call it “analysis”) although it often comes with a systematic bias (call it “commentary”). In fact, the wide range of info, insight, and views on financial blogs such as yours is a pleasant and stimulating relief from the trite reporting of CNBC. (I far prefer Bloomberg News Network.)

    Among financial bloggers, you are literally at the top of my list (even above Barry Ritholtz). Keep up the excellent work. We all need your contributions to help us understand what is going on in the world’s economy and markets.

  14. Anonymous

    Off topic but on topic, referring to the earlier post referencing the “don’t let the bastards get you down” comment.
    Illegitimi non carborundum
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Jump to: navigation, search
    Illegitimi non carborundum is a mock-Latin aphorism jokingly taken to mean “don’t let the bastards grind you down”. There are many variants of the phrase, such as

    Nil illegitimi carborundum.
    Non illegitimis carborundum.
    Illegitimi nil carborundum.
    Non illegitimi carborundum.
    Nil bastardo carborundum.
    Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.
    Illegitimis non carborundum.
    Illegitimus non carborundum est.
    Nil illegitimo in desperandum carborundum
    None of the above is correct Latin. Carborundum is not a Latin word but the name of a mineral which is extremely hard and used for grinding. (see silicon carbide article). The ending -undum suggests either a Latin gerund or gerundive form—and the idea of obligation (“Don’t let …”) is more suggestive of the gerundive—but the word is actually a portmanteau of “carbon” (from Latin), and “corundum” (from Tamil kurundam).

    Illegitimi suggests illegitimate to the English speaker, or bastardo likewise, but the Latin for bastard is actually nothus (from the Greek word notho (νόθο) meaning not-pure, and used when referring to a bastard whose father is known) or spurius (for a bastard whose father is unknown). The forms with nil may be formed partly on the pattern of the genuine Latin phrase Nil desperandum.

    The phrase originated during World War II. Lexicographer Eric Partridge attributes it to British army intelligence very early in the war (in the plural illegitimis). The phrase was adopted by US Army general “Vinegar” Joe Stillwell as his motto during the war.[1] It was later further popularized in the US by 1964 presidential candidate Barry Goldwater.[2] The United States submarine USS Tunny (SSN-682) uses it as the ship motto. The weekly Alaskan newspaper ‘The Nome Nugget’ uses it as a motto, as does the Whitehorse Daily Star, in the capital of the Yukon Territory.

    Henry Beard in his 1991 book Latin for Even More Occasions (chapter I) offered some correct Latin for the sentiment, but did so in a section “Dopey Exhortations Are More Forceful in Latin”, which might be his comment on the merit of the expression.

  15. Anonymous

    Yves, your blog is one of the best of the financial blogs. The action of Charles G. of CNBC is wrong. I used to watch CNBC everyday. I do not watch CNBC anymore. I do not trust the reporters. It has become a mouthpiece for Wall Street. Keep up the good work.

  16. Tom

    Oh, the media.. I don’t think they will ever get the world of blogging. You should have never even gave them any credit for bringing YOU up.

  17. Maria Bartiromo

    Yves, hang tough bro. If anyone should be dragged in front of a court it’s Charlie Gasparino who’s complicit in allowing investment banks to leak material non public information. That guy needs to spend a few years behind bars for the shit he’s pulled

  18. Anonymous

    Here yah go Chuck, suck on some news for your show to pump up a crappy bank with weak reserves:

    World crude prices are expected to reach $150 per barrel by the end of summer, Iran’s representative to the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was quoted as saying on Sunday.

    “I forecast that by the end of summer the price of oil will reach $150 per barrel,” Mohammad Ali Khatibi was quoted as saying by Iran’s state broadcaster, referring to the summer in the northern hemisphere.

    As reasons for this, he cited a weak U.S. dollar as well as the situation in the Middle East, without elaborating.

    Gasoline is now around $6.50/gal (170 to 180 yen a liter) here in the Tokyo area. And I’m seeing significantly less car traffic. The buses and trains are getting more riders. Big headlines in Asahi Shinbun today “The Era of 170yen Gas!”. (old news there)!

    NHK reports that gasoline prices went up 10 yen today to 170-180 yen per liter. That’s about 7 dollars 80 cents per gallon.

    Old news: A “super-spike” could push oil beyond $150 a barrel by October, the highest it been in more than 135 years, experts say. That would drive the price at the pump past $4.50 a gallon and trim US economic output 3.3% in the 2 years following, reports the Wall Street Journal.

    Eat crap Charlie and go play somewhere like an old folks home for retarded and retired failed newspuppets!

  19. mxq

    The funny thing about this is that i distinctly remember turning the tv off when Charlie g came on to discuss this segment. The reason being, in my mind, n.c. had already covered this in a more visceral, unbiased and thought-provoking manner.

    I think this is a microcosm of what is occuring across the entire television medium. Tv, in general, has become supplemental (that’s at BEST in cnbcs case) to what is available via the web, and more specifically the blogsphere.

    Charlies outburst is a symptom of a systemic problem that is being solved by blogs like Yves’. And whether Charlie knows it or not, he’s in the same boat as every other newspaper and cable network…fighting over the scraps while they sink into irrelevance, at the behest of a more democratic, relevant and timely digital tidal wave.

  20. Anonymous


    Suck on this little tip based on $150 oil and your irrelevance in the world:

    Worldwide, the number of plastic bags used is anywhere from 500 billion to 1 trillion every year. Meanwhile, Americans throw away about 100 billion plastic bags each year, according to the Worldwatch Institute, as only 0.6 percent to 1 percent of them are ever recycled.

    As we get closer to a penny a bag in terms of old oil prices, a trillion bags was sort of you like, i.e, no big deal, but with $150 oil — a trillion bags will make a huge difference! Diesel, which now sells for $4.762 a gallon will continue go closer to $5.50 and meanwhile, High-density polyethylene (HDPE) takes 1.75 kilograms of petroleum (in terms of energy and raw materials) to make one kilogram of HDPE.

    As a retard like yourself may know: The standard barrel of crude oil or other petroleum product (abbreviated bbl) is 42 US gallons (34.972 Imperial gallons or 158.987 L).

    I guess I digress with the point that Lehman is a great bank to pump and that The Bush Economy is on track and other fantasy bullshit, but heck, the reality of a systemic economic collapse is probably more difficult to discuss than picking on poor Yves for calling you out for the little prick you are!

    Charlie, face it, you and your kind are a dying breed and you need to crawl under a rock and get on with the business of being dead!

  21. Zippy in Annapolis

    Great blog–read all over Washington.
    Charlie is straining to be relevant–a frustrated print investigative reporter who appears to be not very careful with the “leaks” he gets re which ones are actionable and which are not

  22. Melancholy Korean

    I may only be speaking for myself, but I believe blogging has a useful role to play in combatting the inaccuracies and limitations of media reporting. Reporters have told me that companies are so adept at spinning stories that it is impossible to get to the bottom of them in a typical news cycle.

    Re television news, it’s worse than that. The graphic you put up is more expressive of the difference than anything you could have written–the difference between the visual, mass-targeted, brain-rotting effects of television versus the narrow-cast, intelligent and infinite print medium of the internet.

    Love the blog. Pics are great too. Keep up the great work.

  23. Anonymous

    Charlie G is a journalist? I had no idea. I always assumed his job on was to to spread rumors. Weird.


  24. Anonymous

    I have written a book titled “How to watch CNBC”
    The salient points are as follows:
    1. Turn off the sound
    2. Affix duct tape (in horizontal bands) to the screen,
    leaving open the top and bottom 2 inches.
    3. Enjoy the tape

  25. S

    Gasparino referred to Yves as ‘he’ but I thought Yves was on the Milken EconoBlog panel and most definitely is ‘she’. Amirite?

  26. Anonymous

    CNBC is about entairtainment. Its usefulness lies in its speed, not in the quality of its reporting.
    Defining good journalism is hard, but to paraphrase justice Potter Stewart, I know good reporting when I see it. You’re interesting. CNBC is not. Keep up the good work.

  27. Anonymous

    please please please don’t let this affect the great work you do here. Yours is one of a handful of financial opinions I find relevant amid all the yapping. Keep your head up and your fingers on the keyboard!


  28. Anonymous

    Go Yves! Keep up the good work. Don’t let the Corporate Media intimidate you.

  29. Darcy

    You are doing a great job. Keep it up!

    Why not sue? I am sure the blog readers can have a whip round. They do need to be taught a lesson.

  30. moishepipik

    Keep it up Yves! I check
    your blog first when i get to my computer.
    Love watching CNBC to stay abreast of what the street is feeding the public. I recommend your site daily to anybody expressing interest in real insights into the economy. Anytime
    your in Toronto i’ll be happy to host.

  31. Anonymous

    I have always found unashamably biased reporting that exists in mainstream TV news in the US concerning. However I am shocked to see that it extends to such a degree into financial reporting.

    Even the title ‘Fear vs Fact’ of that CNBC shows the networks hand in its bias. Juxtaposing a bearish view against the truth implies that the bearish view is false.

    I live in Australia. While Australian media is far from perfect I am certainly glad we don’t have this TV financial ‘reporting’ here.

    (Im a few long positions in australia and day by day I’m heavily shorting the US. So far it has been quite profitable.)

  32. Anonymous

    Way to go tiger. You finally got the CNBC mention you were looking for… Congratulations. It’s too bad you get lumped in as a short-seller spreading misinformation, when you’re really just a guy who can’t be bothered to study up on the public information that’s available to you and everyone else. But then, that would take some work, right?

  33. diogenes

    anon at 7:19am: If you want to continue pushing the Lehman line of BS, please at least refrain from further uses of ‘tiger’ in reference to Yves. Its too easy a tip off for those of us who enjoy and benefit from Yves’ quality work.

  34. Anonymous

    Harvard professors on the take from drug companies, retired generals on the take from military contractors, so will we be surprised to learn that the reporters (financial cheerleaders) are also in the pockets of the banks, brokers and corporations?

  35. Anonymous

    CNBC? Who are they? The only time I get any exposure to that toxic waste dump is when I read about it in excellent blogs like this one.

    Just for kicks, I used to keep my office TV set to CNBC, but never actually watch it. I’d just pick up my remote ever once in a while as a day progressed, bet myself $10 that when I turned the TV on CNBC would be showing a commercial. (Seriously, try it…you’ll be stunned at the results.) I got very rich very quick though it turned out to be a zero-sum game, oddly enough. On those few sad occasions when CNBC was actually in progress, the disgust I felt over the hyperventilating staff like Dylan, and Steve, and Gasbag made the game impossible to continue–more like Russian roulette. (Doesn’t matter if you only get one bullet every year, it will still kill you.) Rick Santelli is no God, but along with old days’ Jim Rogers, he’s the only part I miss.

    Keep up this great blog. You actually add intelligence to the field.

  36. Anonymous

    I think this is a microcosm of what is occuring across the entire television medium. Tv, in general, has become supplemental (that’s at BEST in cnbcs case) to what is available via the web, and more specifically the blogsphere.

    Yves keep up the good work. To echo the comment above, the infotainment on the TV is now something I use to verify what is on the blogs, not the other way around. Let the dinosaurs complain, as they circle the shrinking water hole. Darwinian selection isn’t fun but they have it coming.

  37. Minh

    Keep speaking the truth as you see it. And thank YOU for the courage and wisdom.
    God bless you.

  38. William Roth

    Please never, ever stop what you are doing. Bloggers such as yourself are thankfully part of the free press which represents one of the few defenses we have against corruption. Brava!! Keep up the great work.

  39. v

    Clearly I’m late to this post and story (well, the Gas-bag-arino aspect of it).

    In any case I too want to add my thanks to you for an incredibly well written and analytical blog on financial matters.

    It makes CNBC look like the industry mouthpiece/cheerleader it truly is.

    Congrats YS, you have arrived. In grand style no less.

  40. Bernard

    I read your blog everyday and I think you have proven to have the best finance blog on the Internet.

    The credibility of financial TV reporting is being shattered as this credit crisis unfolds. The Internet medium allows for topics to be discussed in depth, and you are utilizing that potential to the utmost. People like Gasparino live in a world of flaky, superficial sound-bytes. Lots of heat and very little light.

    The time contraints of commercial television will never allow for a sober, thoughtful in-depth discussion of ANY issue (the kind of discussion that you have on this blog). Gasparino and his cohorts on CNBC are dinosaurs and will endure total public humiliation for the role they have played all along in justifying and rationalizing the credit bubble from day one.

  41. The Political and Financial Markets Commentator

    I just saw this post, and wanted to share a post I just wrote on CNBC:

    Friday, May 1, 2009
    Man, Is This A Real Bull Market?

    Why Do I Watch CNBC?

    I’m not sure, but if you look closely at CNBC during the day the anchors are all wearing Dallas Cowboys cheerleading uniforms. Men and women. Now it is my fault for watching it, as I have the option to change the channel, but I do like the ticker going across the bottom. Takes me back to my trading days.

    Now there is no question that we have had a strong bounce off of the bottom set in March, but this is on the heals of an unbelievable run to the lows starting in earnest at the beginning of the new year. Now it is understandable, as a television network that has a primarily long viewership (I would think), that the bias would be to the long side. However, all they are talking about is that we are ending the best 8 week period in the market since 1999.

    That Would Only Be Relevant If You Were Flat And Bought The Bottom Or Had The Money To Add To Crushed Positions…

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