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Google to buy Apple, and other fake financial news

Written By | Oct 10, 2017

WASHINGTON, October 10, 2017 – Traders sat bolt upright just after Wall Street’s opening bell Tuesday morning, as the Dow Jones wire posted this startling headline:

DJ UPDATE: Google, Apple Join to Create Tech Giant

The story that followed indicated that Google (symbol: GOOGL) was set to acquire the fabled iPhone and Mac maker for $9 billion.

Additional headlines followed, including:

DJ Google Says Yay

DJ Google Says Steve Jobs Suggested this in His Will

But before anyone could panic, Dow Jones sent out the following missive:

“Please disregard the headlines that ran on Dow Jones Newswires between 9:34 a.m. ET and 9:36 a.m. ET. Due to a technical error, the headlines were published. All of those headlines are being removed from the wires. We apologize for the error.”

Oh, well. So much for a veritable ton of trades against this phantom transaction.

According to a report from CNBC,

“Other headlines clearly said ‘test,’ but it was the Apple one that caught traders [sic] attention, if for nothing else besides its silliness.”

“Fat finger” errors do happen in this business, but this one was a howler, and, fortunately, no damage seems to have been done. Further, all involved must have breathed a sigh of relief, as early rumors claimed that Dow Jones’ systems had been hacked, something the company denies.

Read also: Trading Diary: Taking stock of our stock portfolio

Aside from this demonstrable but likely accidental burst of fake corporate and market news most of the business, financial and government reportage Tuesday morning consisted of the usual memes and virtue signaling, including the following headlines and items:

“‘I’m so hungry.’ Deep in Puerto Rico’s countryside, we see firsthand the post-Maria crisis” (via CNBC). The nation’s (sometimes) most important financial network actually recycles this headline and story from October 3 in the MSM’s never-ending attempt to transform the ongoing Puerto Rico fiscal and hurricane disaster into Bush-Katrina redux. By all objective accounts, the Trump administration has performed promptly and well to the surprising series of tropical storm disasters in Houston, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. No Bush Botch here.

“Solar competitors band together to help bring electricity to storm ravaged Puerto Rico” (CNBC again) More free PR for America’s alleged miracle man, Tesla superhero CEO Elon Musk and other solar purveyors. Right now, Puerto Rico needs to get its already maintenance enfeebled power plants up and running and its existing, if poor, infrastructure up to at least rudimentary functionality. But anything to plug superstar Elon, hero of the environmentaloids and scourge of taxpayers. God knows at this point how much taxpayer money, via lavish Federal subsidies, this overrated liberal CEO has thrown away so far.

“P&G Stock Slumps as Peltz Loses Proxy Fight: Tiran Demands Recount” (Via ZeroHedge) This one isn’t so much fake news as it is typical news these days. Trian Partners, headed by one of its swashbuckling founders, the ubiquitous Nelson Peltz, decided that Cincinnati-based consumer products giant Procter & Gamble wasn’t changing fast enough to realign what’s left of their product portfolio to suit the fickle ways of the rising millennial generation. Peltz’ solution? Get a seat on P&G’s board of directors, the better to somehow re-make the company along highly-leveraged lines, no doubt, while scooping money (legally) out of the company’s treasury. Like any good lifelong Democrat who loses a close vote – this one likely due to the uninformed vote of the numerous “deplorable” small investors who own this classic buy-and-hold stock – Peltz smells a rate and is demanding a recount. Unlike the Democrats, however, P&G owns the ballot box here, so he won’t get to count the votes multiple times until he wins.

There’s a lot more where this came from, but you get the picture. A recent quote appearing in the rather exotic precious metals-centric website Jesse’s Café Américain perhaps sums up the spirit of politics and investing in the early quadrant of the 21st century:

“For the bullshitter, however, all bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.”

— Harry Frankfurt, On Bullshit

I rest my case. In terms of actual financial news today, thus far, it’s been pretty light. As of the noon hour, markets continue their gradual melt up, which is making me nervous. That’s because this current but modest bullishness, likely due to pent up buying from the seller-dominated months of August and September, seems to be driven by hot air.

With Q3 earnings (reporting) season nearly upon us, a few major earnings misses by a few influential companies could completely derail the predominant mood of controlled optimism. We shall see.

Bottom line: We’re still nibbling here and there, but getting defensive. This column tends to be naturally bullish, as any good capitalist, stock trader or investor tends to be optimistic on American business in fair weather or fine.

But sometimes, markets can get ahead of themselves. Right now, like Ronald Reagan, we’ll trust, but verify, what the stock market is putting in front of us right now, lest we live to regret the consequences.


Terry Ponick

Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Senior Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17