Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Ben Stein Prefers Mutual Funds To Hedge Funds, Feels The Need To Note He Doesn’t Support Insider Trading"

Ben Stein is a sleazebag.
As Reuters' Felix Salmon said:
The despicable Ben Stein
How low can Ben Stein get? Well, we know he’ll sell himself to sleazy rip-off merchants if the price is right. But now he’s penned an anti-Obama column for The American Spectator which is so despicable that it fairly takes one’s breath away....
I don't care so much about Ben's politics, he was a speechwriter for President Nixon if that gives you a clue. It's the fact that the guy is a freakin' poseur on topics economic or financial. More after the jump.
From DealBreaker:
Bloomberg Brief recently caught up with Nixon speechwriter, actor and Clear Eyes shill Ben Stein to pick his brain on the state of the hedge fund industry. Stein’s thoughts? Investors are getting robbed on management/performance fees and the only way a hedge fund can beat the market is via insider trading which Stein wants no part of in case anyone was wondering.
“This has been an absolutely monumental recent period for event-driven arbitrage, so that’s what I love,” Ben Stein said in an interview. He dislikes currency hedge funds because the strategy is “too treacherous.” “I don’t have any confidence that the people I’d be working with can outperform any kind of index of it,” he said…Retail investors should invest in exchange-traded funds or mutual funds that replicate hedge fund returns, Stein said, because they charge lower fees and have better returns....MORE 
Ben's dad Herb was a pretty good economist, he also worked for Nixon and young Ben graduated with honors studying econ at Columbia before passing the bar and becoming a poverty lawyer.

It wasn't until Sunday August 12, 2007 that I realized he was fakin' it.
The following Wednesday was a very tough day to be long and I posted:
Ben Stein and the Markets (nutshell: Ben's wrong)
On Sunday Ben Stein wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times that was conflating, confusing and confounding.I'll have some comments following these exerpts from:

Chicken Little’s Brethren, on the Trading Floor
...Much more to the point, the fears and terrors about subprime mortgages have helped knock off 6.7 percent of the stock market’s value in recent weeks. This amounts to about $1.1 trillion, or more than 30 times the losses so far in the subprime market. In other words, these subprime losses are wildly out of all proportion to the likely damage to the economy from the subprime problems.

...Then let’s take a peek at Bear Stearns. This venerable and clever financial house has taken some major hits on subprime mortgages lately. That is sad for the stockholders (I am a very small stockholder), and the price of Bear Stearns stock has tumbled....
Ben went on in that earnestly stupid way for hundreds of words. I noted, trying to keep a civil tongue:
Mr. Stein is glossing over, at minimum, three issues that the sub-prime mess raises....
On November 5 the DJIA had already hit and begun retreating from its all-time high and I was less civil:
Ben Stein, My Trading Floor Be-atch
The estimable Mr. Gaffen just posted, at MarketBeat,
Erasing $120 Billion in Market Cap
The credit-market turmoil of the last several months has taken a large bite out of the market capitalization of most major banks and securities. But substantial losses have occurred in these names since Bear Stearns and Goldman Sachs announced earnings on Sept. 20.
Combining eight of the major banks and brokerages, $120 billion in market cap has been wiped out in less than seven weeks...
That was followed, in August 2009, by the story of Ben getting fired from the New York Times:

Job Loss: "Ben Stein is My Trading Floor Be-atch"
From Felix Salmon at Reuters:

Ben Stein finally Expelled from NY Times
You’ll forgive me if I take some small measure of credit for this one: after something in the region of 35,000 words of the Ben Stein Watch, the world’s worst financial columnist has finally been fired from the New York Times. And I couldn’t be happier. The reason was his appearance in commercials for (and on the homepage of) freescore.com, a sleazy company which exists only to extract large sums of money from those who can least afford it....MORE
Felix doesn't much care for Ben.
August 14, 2007 was the day I realized just how serious the sub-prime mess was going to be. The DJIA closed down 207 at 13,028. The next day we were down another 167. The INDU took a couple months to hit it's all-time high of 14,164.53 on October 9 but the path ahead was plain to anyone watching in August.
Except Ben Stein.
The Columbia Journalism Review said:
The New York Times Finally Cans Ben Stein
Gawker scoops that The New York Times has finally given its Sunday Business columnist Ben Stein the ol’ heave-ho, after an incredibly dumb ethical lapse last month.
Reuters’ Felix Salmon, a longtime Stein foe, was the first to point out that the actor/columnist/emcee/Nixon speechwriter/”Bueller… Bueller” guy had sold out to a company called freescore.com, appearing in TV ads promoting the morally dubious service....
...Good riddance, Ben. Take a victory lap, Felix.
One of these days I'll get around to telling you what I really think of the guy.