American Madness

Intelligent Criticism in the Service of a Better Nation

Journalists will believe anything with a percentage attached

Posted by Josh Friedlander | No Comments

Stephen Bernard of the Associated Press probably wouldn’t believe for one second that I could tell him, to the pound, the weight of all the rocks that fell off the Rocky Mountains during the past week. But he will — apparently without a scintilla of doubt — report that some company knows how much money was redeemed from the hedge fund industry in October.

Think about this for a second. Hedge funds are, overwhelmingly, private companies. Some of them report their performance data to various databases. Some firms even report asset data. But they don’t all report, and they mostly don’t supply monthly asset flow data…even to their own investors.

So, there is no way, on November 12, that any observer could say, “I know how much money hedge funds managed on October 1 and how much they managed on October 31.” There are hedge funds, today, that don’t know exactly how much they managed on October 31.

Every six months (yearend and midyear) I do this type of asset survey and it takes me nearly two months just to find out what the 300 largest hedge fund firms managed. Many take one month before they know themselves. It’s complicated. My report for the Jan 1 asset figure goes out on March 1. To get that info I have to call and email all these firms. And those are just the largest firms. I couldn’t even guess what their monthly numbers are like. I’d have to be omniscient.

Apparently, Bernard thinks that two companies, Eurekahedge and, are omniscient.

NEW YORK – Hedge fund assets fell by $100 billion in October as investors withdrew their money and funds were forced to sell stock, exacerbating the severe volatility that pounded global markets during the month.

About $60 billion of the $100 billion in asset losses during the month came from investor redemptions, according to a report Wednesday released by Eurekahedge, a data and research provider. Hedge funds’ assets totaled $2.497 trillion at the end of the third quarter, according to, a hedge fund data provider.

Well, here’s my take on that:

New York City Orgasms increase 50% to 1.2 million in October
By Gull Able

NEW YORK – New York residents experienced 50% more orgasms in October as economic woes led to a decline in spending and increase in free activities, such as sex.

About 1.2 million city residents experienced an orgasm, some more than once, with the majority coming from autoerotic stimulation, according to a report released Wednesday by SexEdge, a company with no profit margin that has been trying to sell itself for a year.

“It’s pretty clear that people aren’t going to restaurants, aren’t seeing movies, and have even canceled cable at home,” said Nitwit McPundit, co-founder and chief analysts of SexEdge. “They’ve got to do something with their time.”

Boredom with job hunting has also been cited as a reason for residents to seek sexual stimulation.

And I stand by my story. My data is every bit as plausible. Next up: How many slices of pizza the world consumed between 5:00 and 5:15pm.

I’m making fun, but this is a serious and pervasive problem in media. Some theoretically objective company comes to a reporter and says they have data on a trend. The media just loves trend stories. It’s better than finding out what’s really going on and requires no work…just re-scripting some numbers that are being handed to you. This is part of the reason that people are reading less and less of the mainstream news outlets, why their news revenues are shrinking, and why people don’t trust the press.

Please, think. Think for a moment: is it plausible that this person could know such a thing? Because all these stories do is make for inaccurate talking points and help promote the services of the companies that release this absurd data. My company gathers similar data, but we’re not so presumptuous as to pretend we know what is impossible to know.


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