Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What Happens When the News Isn't Fit to Print

The NY Post says WaMu wants a buyer.

But the real article worth reading is the fine print by the (sole) commenter, who writes: "Over the course of a few days, we have read in several articles or heard on CNBC that WaMu is either A) in the final stages of a buyout offer B) not in the final stages 3) about to be auctioned 4) not about to be auctioned 5) adequately capitalized 6) not adequately capitalized. Each of these media outlets makes their claim on unnamed sources. Unless reporters like Zachery Kouwe and Mark DeCambre are about to name their sources, their reporting is suspect and we have to wonder if they stand to gain on their reporting."

So before everyone who hasn't already dumped WaMu rushes to do so (thereby bringing the Post's prophecy full-circle) a few things to think about:

1) In lean times, markets will cannibalize their own (Despite a downgrade in its bond rating caused entirely by investor squeamishness following Lehman's failure, WaMu still has enough liquidity to deal with its needs through 2010. Rumor-mongering can only speed up an evitable bankruptcy)

2) The NY post isn't known for its financial reporting (Although with Bloomberg's recent misstep sending UAL shares into a downward spiral, and the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle giving free press to mortgage racketeers, one does wonder who is)

3) We've learned to approach political press warily (the Swift Boaters might never have caught John Kerry if the press corps wasn't there to fuel the engine) perhaps it's time to step back from overheated financial reporting, too.

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