Whoever invented the mute button deserves the Nobel Prize, sainthood, or maybe even a Daytime Emmy. Let me explain why. We recently finished up some remodeling here at Fool HQ, and, along with the new paint, there was a more technologically advanced arrival: a 3-foot-wide flatscreen TV that's always tuned to CNBC.
That's why I'm so thankful for the mute button. If I had to listen to the nonstop nonsense that came out of that box, well. would my head explode? Probably not, though it feels like it might. I have serious doubts as to whether it would make me a better investor.
As I begin writing this, a guy named Sethi -- no relation to yours truly -- is talking about "playing the semi side." "Playing?" With my retirement money?
Quick cut. A question about Nokia's
Now for something completely different. Bring on the next major indicator! Ah, it's the dollar, stupid. Or oil! Have you seen oil today? Holy. Forget it. Here's tomorrow's lineup. Awesome! We'll be getting a look at "The Ferraris of Mutal Funds." Starwipe to commercials. At least I think they're commercials. They could be music videos.
What the heck is this thing from Pfizer
Next up, long jumpers, spikes meeting turf, sweaty buffsters guzzling sports drinks, leather on hardwood and hoop dreams... Cargill? What does that have to do with Cargill -- except that the cows and pigs from which basketballs and track shoes are made might consume Cargill's feed?
It doesn't matter, right? It's exciting, and that's the point.
That's the problem. I suppose we can't fault CNBC or the other bobbleheads for doing what comes naturally to them. Just as guppies eat their young for reasons that escape us, the financial media will never tire of trying to make sense of daily market moves that actually have no explanation.
But in the end, programs like Power Lunch and Making Money Now are no better than the ads for E*Trade
The trouble is, it's not about being fast, or even smart. Chasing headlines, herds, trends, or macroeconomic non-indicators is no way to invest. Many of us have noted that the world's best investors share a few key virtues; patience and discipline are foremost among them. They look at individual businesses, and they insist on paying the right price. (Hint: 75% of fair value is a good place to start.)
That means your success as an investor depends on your ability to ignore exactly the kind of 24-7 overload that the Jumbotron promises. If you want to win at this business, there's only one button that serves you better than the mute button: the off button.
For related Foolishness, see:
- Here's your real market edge.
- Don't sweat the headlines. They're concocted by bobbleheads and the beast.
- See why common knowledge is useless, even if it's correct.
- The ability to think beyond the headlines is one way you can beat the choppy market.
- Are you self-confident, naive, or both?
Seth Jayson may be getting a TV-induced suntan on the back of his neck, but at the time of publication, he held only Nokia calls and had no positions in any company mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.