FREE ACCESS March 19, 2020

MorningWord 3/19/20: Stay In Your Lane Bro

by Dan

Yesterday on CNBC I was asked to opine on an interview that my good friend Scott Wapner, the host of their Halftime Report conducted earlier in the day with Billionaire Investor Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital. You can watch the full interview here, and my response below:

When I heard Ackman during Scott’s show I could not believe my ears. The guy was having a full-blown meltdown on-air, during market hours and you can tell from my response that I don’t agree with what he had to say and certainly the manner in which he said it. I thought Scott showed a very healthy level of skepticism, but it wasn’t until I had people @ me after my comments that I realized how much hate was being sent Scott’s and CNBC’s way online, which led me to write the following Tweet.

I can’t stress this point enough about my very good friend Scott or about many of the others at CNBC who are working extremely hard to breakdown the madness of this multi-pronged crisis and bring on important guests for the viewer’s benefit from all angles. Scott has had a parade of the most influential people on Wall Street come on his show throughout this crisis, and I know for a fact many do so because it is Scott asking, they trust him, they admire his work ethic and they know every day his goal is to create the best show he can for his viewers.

As regular readers and viewers know, I think the health and humanitarian crisis is, of course, the main event at the moment, but it has quickly spawned a market crisis that has resulted in multiple risk assets crashing and the sort of volatility in some that speak to severe dislocation. After, and given the low level of testing who knows when that will be, we have more visibility in the peak of the virus, the mortality rate, the likelihood of it coming back and how to treat and vaccinate for it, will we know what the extent of economic crisis. Lastly, we have a political crisis, in our leadership, we have a President who was more concerned with what the brewing pandemic would mean for his political aspirations and was very slow to acknowledge the health crisis which clearly put all of us at far greater risk than we had to be in. My point here is that the dig-out will be arduous and on many fronts and the only one that has a date for a reckoning is the last, November 3rd.

But while we are on the topic of billionaires offering advice, I steer you to a frequent quest of Scott’s who was on Squawk Box yesterday morning, Mark Cuban, who in a sober, thoughtful, and empathetic manner offered some very sound advice focused on how to aid our workers who will be immediately impacted by the ballooning financial crisis that is a result of the health crisis. I would say that Mark is uniquely qualified to opine on such things as an owner of a business that employs some of the wealthiest people in our country to those who work for minimum wage selling hot dogs at the Dallas Mavericks arena.

 

Lastly, I am not an employee of CNBC, but I have been a paid contributor since early 2009, I can tell you that the people there have one mission and that is to bring you the best market coverage they can, and like you, they are fearful for their health and those of their family and friends, they are fearful for the loss of their jobs, their savings, their democratic freedoms, and they are tired, but have to put on that make-up and a smile and put out a great product whether the market is up 5% or down 5%. As for who they bring on to speak about what’s going on, they can not dictate what their guests will say, and while Ackman’s view on the markets and economy should be of interest to many of us, his frantic pleas on live tv for public policy and health response through the lens of the stock market are not exactly what I care to hear from him. Pro Tip for Bill… given you history of meltdowns on the Halftime Report you might want to avoid it going forward, but if not, Stay In Your Lane Bro!

 

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