Posts tagged ‘Goldman Sachs’

Meredith Whitney’s Cloudy Crystal Ball

Meredith Whitney, prominent banking analyst at her self-named advisory group, should have worn a bib to protect her from the adoring drool supplied by Maria Bartiromo in a recent CNBC interview. Ms. Whitney has quickly become a banking rock star during this “Great Recession” period.  She was right at a critical juncture, and as a result she was thrust into the limelight. Much like Abby Joseph Cohen, the perma-bull Goldman Sachs strategist who gained notoriety in the late 1990s, Whitney (the perma-banking bear) will continue having difficulty living up to the lofty expectations demanded of her.

Despite the accolades, Whitney’s crystal ball has gotten cloudy in 2009. I suppose accuracy is not very important, judging by her bottom-half 2007 ranking (year of her major Citigroup call) in recommendation performance and 48%-ile ranking in the first half of 2008. Analysts, much like reporters, can avoid looking dumb by reporting the news du jour and by following the herd. Whitney has followed this formula with her continuous bearishness on the financial sector, excluding a brief but late upgrade of Goldman Sachs in July. Not only was her analysis tardy (Goldman’s stock tripled from the 2009 bottom), but her call has also underperformed the S&P 500 index since the upgrade.

Incoherent Inconsistencies

Like a bobbing and weaving wrestler (her husband John Layfield is a retired staged professional wrestler from the WWE), Whitney tries to concoct a completely mind-boggling narrative to explain her forecasts this year in the CNBC interview with Maria Bartiromo:

11/18/09 (XLF Price $14.60): “For the year, I have been at least ‘cover your shorts, go long.’ I haven’t been this bearish in a year.” (See Maria Bartiromo Interview)  

Hmm, really? Are you kidding me? Wait a second…is this the same “go long” Meredith Whitney that expressed the following?

3/17/09: (XLF: 8.55 then, 14.60 now +71% ex-dividends): “These big banks are sitting on loans that were underwritten with bad math, and the stocks are going to go down…these stocks are uninvestable.”

(Fast forward to minute 8:20 for quote above)

2/4/09 (XLF: 8.97 then, 14.60 now +63% ex-dividends): “Investors should not even consider owning banks on an equity basis” (Click here and fast forward to minute 8:10 for quote).

The schizophrenic accounting of her postures are all the more confusing given her stance that the sector was “fairly valued” in October, according to the CNBC Bartiromo interview.

Don’t get me wrong, she made an incredible bearish call on Citigroup in the fall of 2007 and was expecting blood in the streets until a massive rebound in 2009 surprised her. Investors need to be wary of prognosticators that get thrust into the limelight (see Peter Schiff article) for a single prediction. The law of large numbers virtually guarantees a new breed of extreme forecasters will be rotated into the spotlight any time there is a major shift in the market direction. I choose to follow the footsteps of Warren Buffett and stay away from the game of market timing and market forecasts. I believe James Grant from the Interest Rate Observer states it best:

“The very best investors don’t even try to forecast the future. Rather, they seize such opportunities as the present affords them.”

 

Meredith Whitney may be a bright banking analyst and perhaps she’ll ultimately be proven right regarding the downward banking stock price trajectories, but like all bold forecasters she must live by the crystal ball, and die by the crystal ball.

Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®

Plan. Invest. Prosper. 

www.Sidoxia.com

DISCLOSURE: Sidoxia Capital Management (SCM) and its clients own certain exchange traded funds (including VFH), but currently have no direct positions in C, GS, or XLF. No information accessed through the Investing Caffeine (IC) website constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC “Contact” page.

November 23, 2009 at 2:00 am 13 comments

Goldman Sachs in Talks to Acquire Treasury Department

Goldman-TreasuryAndy Borowitz from the Borowitz Report published an article a few months ago satirizing the ever increasing conspiracy theories being spread regarding Goldman Sachs’ (GS) role in the global financial crisis. Spearheading the scapegoating Goldman Sachs brigade is Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone who wrote Inside The Great American Bubble Machine. Megan McArdle at The Atlantic has a detailed critique of Taibbi’s loose facts and outlandish generalizations.

 On a lighter note, here’s what Mr. Borowitz has to say about the Goldman Sachs/Treasury Department merger, with tongue firmly in cheek:

According to Goldman spokesperson Jonathan Hestron, the merger between Goldman and the Treasury Department is “a good fit” because “they’re in the business of printing money and so are we.” The Goldman spokesman said that the merger would create efficiencies for both entities: “We already have so many employees and so much money flowing back and forth, this would just streamline things.” Mr. Hestron said the only challenge facing Goldman in completing the merger “is trying to figure out which parts of the Treasury Dept. we don’t already own.” Goldman recently celebrated record earnings by roasting a suckling pig over a bonfire of hundred-dollar bills.

 

If Matt Taibbi is having difficulty coming up with some fresh new material, perhaps he could target some of these hotly debated areas of contention:  

  • The 40 year anniversary of NASA faking the moon landing.
  • The CIA assassination of John F. Kennedy and the 4th shot from the “grassy knoll.”
  • Crashed UFO aircraft remains stored at Area 51, Air Force base in Nevada.
  • Elvis still alive.
  • Paul McCartney actually dead.
  • 9/11 terrorist attacks government cover-up.
  • The creation of HIV/AIDS by the CIA.

If Bill Clinton can’t suppress sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky and Dick Cheney can’t hide the fact he shot someone in the face with a shotgun, I guess the Goldman crew is just better at pulling the wool over the eyes of 6.5 billion people…less one smart cookie, Matt Taibbi.

Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®

Plan. Invest. Prosper.

DISCLOSURE: Sidoxia Capital Management and client accounts do not have direct positions in GS at the time the article was published. No information accessed through the Investing Caffeine (IC) website constitutes investment, financial, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. Please read disclosure language on IC “Contact” page.

September 11, 2009 at 4:00 am Leave a comment

Newer Posts


Receive Investing Caffeine blog posts by email.

Join 1,816 other followers

Meet Wade Slome, CFA, CFP®

More on Sidoxia Services

Recognition

Top Financial Advisor Blogs And Bloggers – Rankings From Nerd’s Eye View | Kitces.com

Share this blog

Bookmark and Share

Subscribe to Blog RSS

Monthly Archives