Friday, October 08, 2010

More Old News: Mohamed El-Arian On CNBC Yesterday Morning

CNBC seems to have made a habit out of worshipping every word that emanates from Mohamed El-Arian's lips. Yesterday this foolishness reached a new low.

At one point, Joe Kernen actually said, to paraphrase as closely as I can recall,

'Shouldn't you be saying "Grasshopper" at some point here?'

Only it wasn't said, as El-Arian claimed, mockingly. Instead, the anchors treated El-Arian as if his comments were all new and insightful.

Ironically, El-Arian has run out of things to say. Having published his "New Normal" book, and flogged the idea ceaselessly for months on the CNBC morning program, he's pretty much a dry hole now.

I'm not the only person who, since September, 2008, has expounded upon the global trend toward deleveraging. El-Arian talks like he's just discovered this concept.

When he turns to monetary policy, again, El-Arian rambles on in a self-important tone as if nobody else has ever studied, nor read erudite Wall Street Journal editorials about global monetary economics, central banking, price stability, global trade, etc.

There were a few other topics which received El-Arian's now-trademark arched, "I'm telling you a secret idea which I just invented" delivery.

It's gotten old. Fast.

Back in the day, a close friend in the fixed income business taught me how being part of, at that time, Salomon Brothers, conferred information advantages on traders who, stripped of their position at the then-dominant fixed-income trading and underwriting firm, would founder.

I often wonder how much of El-Arian's sudden fame 'insights' are a function of his being at PIMCO, rather than himself, per se. It's become the same with Bill Gross, except Gross is more transparent concerning his motives.

El-Arian has adopted the mantle of global fixed income and general investing statesman, trying very hard to convince you he's an objective, disinterested pundit on all things macroeconomic and financial.

For me, at least, that charade has ended. If you listen carefully now, you'll usually find that El-Arian isn't saying anything new, or even particularly insightful. Certainly little that other guests haven't said before.

But, in the cozy, mutual-back-scratching world of CNBC, fawning over certain guests from large, market-moving institutional investors fills airtime and makes for good headlines, while continuing to offer said guests the opportunity to talk their book while appearing to just be a smart person commenting objectively on world financial events.

Mohamed El-Arian seems to have become permanently lodged in that space now on CNBC.

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