Self-promoter of the day: Keith McCullough

By Felix Salmon
October 26, 2011
Here's the most illuminating part of the Steve Liesman/Keith McCullough twitterfight:

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Here’s the most illuminating part of the Steve Liesman/Keith McCullough twitterfight:

KeithMcCulloughKeith McCullough
steveliesmansteve liesman
in reply to @steveliesman

@steveliesman how does an objective journalist like you not use the most accurate forecasting CNBC Contributor as a source in 2011 anyway?
Oct 26 via TweetDeckFavoriteRetweetReply

Basically, McCullough started the fight with a weird tweet about central planning. Liesman hit back implying that McCullough’s real problem was that he felt he wasn’t appearing on CNBC enough. And then McCollough replied, saying essentially that Liesman was right!

As a general rule, it’s not a good idea to take investment advice from people who appear on CNBC a lot. CNBC Is a marketing platform: fund managers love being on there because it increases their visibility and the chances that people will want to invest with them. Think of it as a dumbed-down, glossy version of Seeking Alpha. But do you really need to be invested with the kind of people who are trolling for customers by appearing on CNBC? I don’t think so.

It gets much worse, however, if a one of these people actually complains, in public, about not appearing on CNBC enough, then you know he has lost all sense of proportion. You have a job, mate. Going on the telly is a distraction from that job. It cannot help the people who are already taking your advice. You are abandoning them in order to be able to see your face on a silenced television screen. You are a narcissist.

And if anybody reaches the point at which they call themselves a “CNBC Contributor”, capitalization and all, despite the fact that they’re not even paid by CNBC, then that’s the point at which you run, don’t walk, in the other direction.

In general, a majority of fund managers and market pundits spend their time doing their jobs, while a minority are self-promoters who are desperate to get on TV. Once you’ve identified someone as a member of the latter group, the question of whether or not to invest with him or follow his advice tends to answer itself very quickly. With, perhaps, a single exception in the case of Warren Buffett.

8 comments

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Felix, your post would have been immensely more pointed if you’d posted how Keith McCullough’s fund (funds?) was doing year-to-date vs. The S&P 500.

I’m not religious about watching CNBC, but I do take it in regularly at the gym while I’m on the treadmill or elliptical trainer and I’ve never heard of this guy. That means I’ve never heard of his fund, either.

Posted by Strych09 | Report as abusive

note the performance of BRK when Buffett was not appearing on TV with performance after he began his world media tour. I think you’ll quickly find there’s a difference.

Posted by johnhhaskell | Report as abusive

My wife (a neuroscientist) and I were eating at an establishment with CNBC on today. She compared the layout of the screen to facebook, and we more or less agreed that it’s largely designed to bypass the cortex and connect straight to the midbrain.

Posted by dWj | Report as abusive

I’ll take a fund manager on CNBC over one with a brigade of salespeople cold calling me at the office all the livelong day.

Posted by haggers | Report as abusive

I’m not sure he even manages a fund anymore. He seems to be selling newsletters at $30 a pop. He’s joined the rest of us in the exalted financial perch of Some Dude With A Noisy Website (and a ridiculous tie).

Posted by Tybalt | Report as abusive

IF he did ANYTHING other than his FAKE “TIMESTAMP” fake trading THEN and only then would any calls could be worth something, BUT with his current “we are getting long here or short here” when its all just PRETEND !!! no risk etc …I have -0- respect for anyone with a cent in game! -G

ps at least he less dangerous than a GARTMAN on CNBC everyday and wrong all the time which does have value because I have started “fading” each GOLD call he makes and done VERY well!

Posted by SCOPELABS | Report as abusive

IF he did ANYTHING other than his FAKE “TIMESTAMP” fake trading THEN and only then would any calls could be worth something, BUT with his current “we are getting long here or short here” when its all just PRETEND !!! no risk etc …I have -0- respect for anyone with a cent in game! -G

ps at least he less dangerous than a GARTMAN on CNBC everyday and wrong all the time which does have value because I have started “fading” each GOLD call he makes and done VERY well!

Posted by SCOPELABS | Report as abusive

How can this guy possibly stay in business? Ever since he started showing up on CNBC, he’s been aggressively short when the market is rallying and then finally jumps on board
right when we’re near a top.
He’s one of those guys who thinks that if he talks loud and with confidence, people will think he knows what he’s talking about.
It’s not enough to sound smart, you actually have to be smart. I’m not surprised he’s 100% cash. It’s because he doesn’t know what else to do.
But I would like to thank him for signaling the last 2 tops for me,
keep up the good work!

Posted by jassy12 | Report as abusive