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July 13, 2009

The odds catch up to Meredith Whitney

Investors who are too lazy to do their own research want desperately to believe that somebody out there has Wall Street figured out, has untangled the skein of emotion and economics that drives invesment and can tell investors what to do or manage their money for them. There's always somebody. Unfortunately it's a different somebody every few years.

Given the glut of financial prognostication, every time the market does something radical it's almost a necessity that SOMEONE will have called a warning or a "buy" call. That's their cue for fame and riches. It's not the cue for the public to start listening to their every word. In 1987 it was Elaine Garzarelli who "predicted" the stock market crash. In the 1990s it was Abby Joseph Cohen who "predicted" the bull market. Now it's Meredith Whitney, who made a bearish call on Citigroup in the fall of 2007. The Call was good but it wasn't omniscient, David Weidner noted in April.

Well, almost. The Call did not say Citigroup was stuffed with hundreds of billions of dollars in toxic assets. It did not say that multiple banks will fail unless the government intercedes. It didn't mention Bear Stearns (which she once expected to earn more than $11 a share in 2009), Lehman Brothers or American International Group Inc. It was a call that Citi was losing money and would have to take drastic action to raise capital.

Now Whitney is moving markets again by upgrading Goldman Sachs to a "buy" after newspapers reported over the weekend that Goldman is set for a blockbuster quarter. Goldman is up $4 to $146, and the market is up modestly. But where was Whitney last fall, when Goldman was $50? She will continue to be in the spotlight until, like Cohen and Garzarelli, she proves she is mortal and fallible. It's already happening.

Posted by Jay Hancock at 10:35 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: The Great Recession


GOLDMAN SACHS Writes To The President.... A LETTER of THANKS.

……. And the circus continues, with Taxpayer singing the tune.

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About Jay Hancock
Jay Hancock has been a financial columnist for The Baltimore Sun since 2001. He has also been The Baltimore Sun's diplomatic correspondent in Washington and its chief economics writer. Before moving to Baltimore in 1994 he worked for The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk and The Daily Press of Newport News.

His columns appear Tuesdays and Sundays.

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