Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Buying Opportunities?

On October 7th 2008 during the Canadian election campaign as the Toronto Stock Exchange had just lost nearly 3000 points of value within a 6 week period, Prime Minister Stephen Harper did an interview with Peter Mansbridge on the CBC where he proclaimed that there were buying opportunities on the stock market. Immediately he began to draw fire from Canadian Journalists and from his political opponents for being flagrantly insensitive to investors who had just lost a substantial amount of their retirement portfolios. He was not criticized for being wrong, he was attacked for allegedly insulting people who had lost money. I never understood what the big deal was. I understood the partisan opportunism of his political rivals taking advantage of bad economic circumstances and trying to frame a positive interview as a grievous act of malice. It was however, the outrage by the so-called professional journalists that left me scratching my head.

Hindsight being what it is, the TSX has lost nearly 2000 additional points since the Prime Minister encouraged investors to inject money into the market. I’m certain that his opponents will argue that had Canadians followed his advice they would have likely lost money. Therefore it should be noted that 10 days after Prime Minister Harper made his comments, none other than the Nostradamus of Investing Warren Buffet wrote a piece in the New York Times saying the exact same thing! In it he wrote “A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful. And most certainly, fear is now widespread, gripping even seasoned investors.” Buffet proclaimed that it was the perfect time to be buying stocks, though he was careful to point out that nobody can predict with reliable accuracy short term fluctuations in the stock market. I don’t recall the CBC being outraged by Buffet’s comments, so I will forgive my PM if the market has fallen since he encouraged people to invest.


Fast forward to today, and none other than the Messiah Barack Obama proclaimed that there are now “potentially good deals” available in the stock market. How did the CBC respond? Was it with an elevated sense of moral outrage at the audacity of Obama to make these comments when so many people had lost money? No, as they saw it, Obama was trying to encourage confidence in the market. It is at these moments of unbridled hypocrisy that I really start to question the motives of the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, which receives millions of tax payer’s dollars annually to promote biased propaganda. I find it to be abhorrent for a public organization which does have an influence over public opinion to be advancing a political agenda; though I suppose some might argue that the ability of the CBC to influence the hearts and minds of Canadians has been gradually diminishing over time. I hope so.

“He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money.”

-Benjamin Franklin

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