Analyze This!

Bloomberg posts a short news story on some UBS analyst trying to make a name for himself by coming up with an outlandish positive number at a time when nobody else is optimistic.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, which tumbled 42 percent to 848.81 this year, may rally 53 percent to 1,300 by the end of 2009, David Bianco wrote in a note dated yesterday.

I love that Bloomberg juxtaposes that sentence with the following:

The New York-based strategist, who a year ago predicted a 2008 advance of 16 percent for the S&P 500, is now forecasting a gain that would exceed the index’s best annual performance on record.


I guess you might as well triple down if you’ve been that wrong.

I only wish Bloomberg had written that predicting which way the market will go is a fool’s game; putting a number on it—and a crazy one at that—is a charlatan’s. And it could have pointed out that analysts are, as a herd, way too bullish.

Fortunately, the Berg does let the analyst hang himself with his own rope, at least in a writerly way.

“The consensus outlook for 2009 is a full year of gloom,” Bianco, 33, wrote in his 2009 market outlook. “We believe 2009 will bring signs of a dawn in confidence with the first faint light appearing earlier than most investors expect.”

It was a dark and stormy night…

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.