Tuesday, December 20, 2005

CNBC's Squawkbox: Investing As Entertainment

Is it not ironic that within two weeks of the NYSE voting to merge with Archipelago and move decisively away from its open-outcry market method, and the regulatory problems it has experienced with its specialists, CNBC revamped its early morning business program, Squawkbox, moving part of its coverage to a set located inside the exchange?

If this doesn’t demonstrate the networks treatment of investing as primarily entertainment, what could?

The NYSE move to electronic trading, in order to minimize the egregious regulatory infractions of it’s specialist members, including front-running its customers when order filling, makes the trading floor an even less important place in the investing process then it already has been for some time. With the rise of managed funds, 401K plans, etc, institutional management has been the driving force in the market for quite some time. The trading floor is for order execution, but is not, in itself, the locus of investment decision-making that moves the markets.

Thus, CNBC seems to be moving to cover the sizzle, but not the actual “meat” of the capital markets. If you needed to understand what is going on in the markets, you can monitor any number of real-time ticker and index data feeds. Actually seeing the trading floor and filling of orders is superfluous.

However, if you simply want to portray an entertaining drama of market forces at work, I suppose having a program set located within earshot of the trading floor frenzy does that.

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