Ripe for Another Round of Berry-Picking

Once again, this columnist is moved to ask how this guy maintains his loyal following.
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The Final Cut

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. -- Your narrator has been trashing

John Berry

for just about a

year now.

Why?

Because he cannot for the life of him figure out why so many people continue to place so much stock in someone who has proven so consistently and fundamentally wrong.

Are his pieces sometimes good for an

In-N-Out trade within an hour or so of when they hit? Regardless of how wrong they are?

Absolutely. They are sometimes good for a few bucks first thing in the morning (when the rest of the dumbasses, because they're still sleeping, haven't yet read them) owing solely to the fact that the author is who he is.

And is it not to be entirely expected that

The Never-Ending Kind-Fed Story

sits atop the bestseller list in a country where millions plunk down in front of

Bad Things Just Don't Happen To Good Markets

every night?

Absolutely. The volume of nasty mail that poured in following the most recent Berry

trashing made it perfectly clear to this correspondent that trying to introduce even the tiniest speck of common sense (not to mention facts) to whatever-can-go-right-usually-does thinking -- or whatever such

nonsense is being bandied about on any given day -- is a fruitless exercise indeed.

And yet even allowing for those two not insignificant things, one still comes away astonished that so many people continue to place so much stock in someone who has proven so consistently and fundamentally wrong.

Folks use the phrase "

always-accurate" to describe him. They reckon he's "

so close to the Fed chairman" that you're a fool to ignore him. They are certain that he "

always" gets it right. They're convinced that he's the "

only reporter worth trusting" when it comes to our man Alan. They figure he is on top of the economic indicators enough to

know when consumption is slowing. Some bond types actually adjust their Treasury-yield forecasts according to what Berry says; some stock types actually believe what Berry says over what bonds do.

And one can only sit around and wonder why.

(As an aside, I linked to those

Cramer

columns not because I am picking on him, but rather because they very accurately represent the very high regard in which most market participants hold John's predictions.)

Bonds just limped through their worst one-year period ever.

What precisely is it about bullish Fed pieces that would have helped anyone profit from that?

The biggest Berry

fans were looking for the kindest Fed possible in the wake of his May 7 column -- one in which he argued that a Greenspan

speech delivered the day before marked a significant turning point in Fed thinking (specifically, that kind price measures owed more to technological advances than they did to temporary supply shocks).

The Fed

announced a tightening bias 11 days later.

And then it tightened twice during the following three months.

Did people begin to put any less stock in what Berry says as a result?

Apparently not.

A strongly worded Oct. 3

piece produced the popular

thinking that the Feds would announce neither a hike nor a bias.

Wrong yet again.

Now.

Given that the name of the game here is (as our trader friend likes to point out) to make money, and considering that Berry has proven dead wrong about both Fed action and the direction of interest rates, someone needs to explain to me, in detail, how the guy has made anyone any money.

Someone needs to send me some proof.

Not some the-fish-was-this-big-I-swear stories, but some real-life trading slips.

I will pay dearly for them.

And to those of you who will at this point be tempted to write to claim that listening to Berry -- or listening to those who listen to Berry -- has at least kept you in shares? And that bullishness on that front has indeed made you money -- and will continue to do so over the long run?

Save it.

He doesn't write about stocks. He writes about the Fed and interest rates -- the very things he's been dead wrong about.

And give me a break in any event. A monkey with a !%^ buy book could have made you a killing in this market over the past few years. For God's sake, people, the fact that high-school kids can win the Investment Challenge ought to tell everyone something.

And finally, who the !%^ needs to be told that stocks are a good long-run investment anyway?

Oh. Wait.

You mean to tell me that no one will remember the September 1999

NAPM

numbers 10 years out? And that stock prices will in all likelihood be higher then than they are now?

And even that some day -- no idea how far out into the future, but some day -- the

Dow

will hit 50,000?

Wow.

Who had any !%^ idea?

Epilogue

The following nugget comes from the Berry

piece that appeared today.

Some Fed officials have suggested privately that because of the uncertainties about Y2K effects and possible strains in some financial markets, they would prefer not to have to change rates later this year unless economic conditions shift in such a way that a response is absolutely necessary.

Privately?

As in I-have-an-inside-scoop-here?

Priceless. Just priceless.

Side Dish

Hey.

Lieberman

says to "always bet the underdogs in the baseball postseason. You only need to win 40% of the time to win money. The public always overbets the favorites."

And hey. Please don't

write in to accuse me of hating shares. I very much love them. My mom and I have made enough money in the silly things to buy her house outright. Half of our money is still in stocks. Most of the rest of it is slurping up junk yield.

Guaranteed to choke?

Braves.

Indians.

Atlanta.

Yankees.

Greenspan.