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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What's more callous: tasteless comedian or financial news?

A few days ago, AFLAC fired comedian Gilbert Gottfried as the 'voice' of the AFLAC duck after he made some rather insensitive and thoughtless tweets on Twitter about the tragedy in Japan.  They were attempts at humor which wasn't the least bit funny.

A couple days ago you also had Larry Kudlow of CNBC's 'The Kudlow Report' express relieve that the human tragedy in Japan is greater than the economic tragedy while the women anchors on either side nodded and expressed agreement.

So which is worse?  What is the difference?

On one hand you have the obliviousness of one comic to the emotional and human toll in Japan while desperately trying to be funny and failing miserably. On the other hand, you have the blatant insensitivity of financial news media who are Determined to cover Japan solely through the angle of Finance and any human suffering or devastation is only germane through the prism of personal portfolio expansion.

Here's some headlines from

Japan's repatriation a threat -- "The disaster in Japan poses a serious risk to global markets, especially for U.S. Treasurys and emerging markets, as Japanese investors withdraw funds to rebuild at home."

Sell first, ask questions later -- "Gold plunged earlier this week, apparently in reaction to the crisis in Japan. But, upon further analysis from Mark Hulbert, it’s not clear why this was justified."

Analysts see short term hit to Japan's economy -- "The nuclear and natural disasters striking Japan are likely to dent Japanese growth for the next few months but a strong recovery later this year as the country rebuilds should help minimize the impact on the global economy, some analysts said Tuesday."

~ Ok, let's break this down. While there's no attempts at dark humor or anything overtly offensive, it is important you understand what you were reading.  To MarketWatch, the 'disaster in Japan' is bad for markets and investing, it needlessly caused gold to drop and it will affect growth but Japan's markets will recover.  No mention of Japan in human terms.  Even for financial news, it is quite callous.

But surely they are not alone...  let's continue with good ole' CNBC...

Jumping back into Japan stocks -- "Barton Biggs, Traxis Partners managing partner, didn't own Japan before this morning, but says he jumped back in today. Biggs believes the radiation levels will not present a serious problem, and that the economic impact will be negligible."

Japan disaster boost case for commodities  -- "Jim Rogers, Chairman of Rogers Holdings: "There's going to be a much bigger demand for oil from power plants because nuclear power plants are being shut around the world." ... He said the resultant increase in demand for commodities would make him a buyer of oil. "I'm not saying it's good for the world, not saying it's good for Japan, But there's always, as you know in Asia we talk about opportunities out of disasters, every disaster leads to some opportunities for some people who pay attention," he said."

Economist: US Markets overreacting to Japan (CNBC's Fast Money) -- "In light of the disasters in Japan, LaVorgna said the decline in the U.S. stock market is not commensurate with what the impact would be on U.S. economic growth... U.S. exports to Japan, LaVorgna added, are only 5 percent. So he said that number would have to be much larger for the events in Japan to have a substantial effect on the U.S. economy."

~ To use an old, tired catchphrase, "Well, isn't that Special!"

Basically, to CNBC,investors should shrug off the nuclear fallout even though nuclear experts now say the situation is worse than Three Mile Island, disasters make some really wonderful buying opportunities and its wrong that US markets should be impacted in any way from Japan since their troubles really don't effect us.  

Evil. simply Evil.

This is how the Financial community groupthinks,  You may get occasional lip service as to empathy for the devastation, but in reality there's very little of it because that is not how this profession operates.  Every event- suffering, calamity, starvation, disease, war...  it is nothing but opportunities for well dressed and coiffed sociopaths to exploit for financial gain.

Many, Many Americans are caring, compassionate people-   But not all

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