Stocks took a shellacking today, as Mr. Market didn't react with enthusiasm to the outcome of the presidential election. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) and the broader S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) both lost 2.4%; for the latter index, it was only the third greater-than-2% daily decline of 2012. (The election outcome may yet act as a catalyst for some stocks, click here to receive our free report, "These Stocks Could Skyrocket After the 2012 Election.")
The macro view
There were actually two winners in this presidential election: nerds and data (I use the term "nerd" without any prejudice; in fact, I consider myself a data nerd). Blogger/statistician Nate Silver showed that a careful analysis of polling data --Â data that was available to everyone -- is more effective than any combination of conventional wisdom, gut feeling, or a Beltway insider's list of contacts when it comes to predicting election outcomes. In doing so, he cast a harsh light on the pundits who don't make good use of available data and whose track record at forecasting is decidedly mediocre. This is consistent with the findings of political scientist Philip Tetlock, who has shown that political "experts" have no edge in making predictions within their own field of expertise (full disclosure: I was a forecaster on a team run by Tetlock and other academics as part of the Good Judgment Project).
I'm going to call 2012 the "Moneyball election" and I think it will usher in a fundamental shift in the way in which the media approaches political forecasting and a rebalancing of influence in favor of the nerds over the punditocracy. Kudos to Nate Silver and kudos to The New York Times for anticipating and contributing to that shift. When will the same shift occur in financial media? Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner called for nothing else at the end of last year in a three-part essay titled "Moneyballing the Financial World." More, he had already provided the tools to do this when he devised the Motley Fool's CAPS stock voting system, which, among other things, enables anyone to view the track record of Wall Street brokers (or of Jim Cramer) when it comes to making stock calls. Change is under way, and The Motley Fool is leading the way.
Alex Dumortier, CFA, has no positions in the stocks mentioned above; you can follow him on Twitter, @longrunreturns. The Motley Fool has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.