On today’s show we’re talking about the news. I’m finding that in many cases the news isn’t really news. It’s not new enough to be news and it’s not old enough to be history. So what is it? It’s almost stuck in no-mans land.
A lot of people, including investors rely on the news media to figure out what is going on in the marketplace. There’s no doubt that there is a lot of good content out there in the news. But there are a few problems with that process.
As I’ve been working on the podcast for about a year now, I’ve noticed a few things:
1) The major news outlets can’t afford to focus on local. The audience is too small. The business side of journalism has changed so much that increasingly news outlets need to focus on a much larger audience. The best example of that is Jeff Bezos purchase of the Washington Post. He has used his knowledge of the internet to transform that newspaper from a local Washington print publication to a national online publication with over 12,000 pieces of new content per day. But the problem with appealing to a wide audience is that you end up quoting national statistics. As you know, real estate isn’t a national business. Its a local business. In fact its a hyper-local business. What’s happening in Pocatello Idaho is irrelevant in Chicago or Nashville. These outlets resort to reporting things that frankly is so diluted that it adds very little value. A story about interest rates which affects everyone nationally is about all they can truly report on that is of broad interest. I’ve now come to understand why the Wall Street Journal has such a dismal real estate section. But here’s the key. When I notice something specific in a local market, I’ll report it. While rent control in NY may not apply in Phoenix Arizona, there are political voices all over the country that agree with what is happening in New York. It’s local and specific, but it’s also universal. But you the listener have to connect the dots and determine if it applies.
2) In the process of creating the content, I have my finger on the pulse of what is going on in the marketplace. It doesn’t work for me to simply quote USA Today or the Globe and Mail on the podcast. I would not adding much real value if I did that. I’ve discovered that I’m seeing real trends by talking to other investors. I’m able to figure out what is happening in the market before it gets reported in the news.
This was illustrated very clearly with two episodes in the recent past.
On January 4th I put out an episode on the impact that student debt is having on delaying home buying for the current generation of university graduates. This week, the Federal Reserve came out with a statement that also reported the same phenomenon.
In the past month I reported that one title agency in silicon valley had seen an 80% drop in closings in a month. That’s a huge shift in transaction volume in a very short time period.
On Friday, the Wall Street Journal published a story that homes for sale inventories have risen dramatically in a number of markets across the country. In San Jose California, for sale inventories increased 131% in a month.
My reaction to that story was “Of course. I saw that coming a full 4 weeks before it appeared in the news.” I saw the student debt issue long before the Federal reserve came out with their report which was widely covered in the news.
The reason I’m telling you all this is because I’m not doing anything special except paying attention. If you’re a serious investor and you are in the flow of what’s happening in the marketplace, you don’t need to rely on the news to draw conclusions. You can rely on your own senses.
You will see things more clearly and sooner if you just trust your own eye sight and your own ears. More importantly, you will see with greater clarity than any news outlet can give you.