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Annoying Buzzword of the Day: "Contrarian"

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March 31, 2008 – Comments (3)

Before I start my rant, I realize that some of the world's most successful investors have been "contrarian" in the true sense of the word, such as Peter Lynch when he purchased stock in S&Ls after the crisis or when he made big bucks by purchasing Chrysler when it bottomed out years ago.  I understand that purchasing stocks when they're cheap, at the bottom of a cycle or after they have experienced a major short-term problem is obviously an outstanding way to do very well in investing.

Having said this, it is just me or are you sick and tired of everyone and their uncle calling themselves a "contrarian" investor nowadays.  Perhaps I'm just grumpy because it's Monday or perhaps I just have been reading way too much about investing lately and I am just seeing the word everywhere.  I finally snapped when I was watching CNBC this morning.  This definitely is not the most offensive use of the word that I have ever seen, it was more like the straw that broke the camel's back.  They had Liz Ann Sonders from Charles Schwab on and they asked her what sectors of the market she likes right now.  I don't disagree with the sectors that she said she likes, healthcare and technology.  Healthcare has gotten crushed lately and it's starting to get interesting (though there's definitely a lot of risk there with a new administration coming in).  Anyhow, after she gave her answer the anchor asked her what she thought about oil and energy.  Her response started off something along the lines of, well this might sound contrarian, or we're a bit of a contrarian here, or something like that.  I don't remember exactly what she said because my ears just started burning and the room started spinning after I heard the word that shall remain nameless, but she definitely used THAT word when she said that she could not recommend buying stocks in the sector.  HOW ON EARTH is saying that you think that oil is due for a pullback being a contrarian?!?!?!  Everyone in the world has been saying that lately.  The "commodities bubble" was on the front page of Barron's two days ago for goodness sake.  You're not being contrarian if you are saying the exact same thing as every other talking head in the universe.  ARRRGGGGGGG.  Whew, that feels better. 

Don't worry, I've come up with a plan to curtail the overuse of words like this.  I think that the government, perhaps with some assistance from the Federal Reserve, needs to regulate the use the word "contrarian" going forward.  More government intervention is what we're all about today.  Why not place restrictions upon the use of specific overused words and catch phrases in addition to doing things like forcing everyone on the planet to pay ten times as much as they should be for food by mandating the use of corn to create ethanol, destroying the value of our currency by running up a massive deficit, or bailing out investment banks that became insolvent because of their own stupid mistakes and mismanagement?  Perhaps the government can start issuing tax credits to people who substitute other words and phrases for the word contrarian, such as "going against the grain," "swimming against the current," "doing things my own way," "spurning conventional wisdom," "dancing to the beat of my own drummer," etc... See, look how many substitute phrases I came up with in less than 10 seconds?  That's an ideal solution to the problem.  It would both stimulate the economy and make me less annoyed.  At the bottom of this blog post I am starting a petition for my plan that I am going to send to the leaders of both parties.  If you're with me, please sign your name and share your thoughts.

Deej

3 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On March 31, 2008 at 11:21 AM, TMFCrocoStimpy (94.99) wrote:

Not be be a contrarian, Deej, but I wholeheartedly agree.

:oP

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#2) On March 31, 2008 at 11:24 AM, leohaas (31.56) wrote:

"I finally snapped when I was watching CNBC this morning. "

There you have it! Stop watching the talking heads... 

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#3) On March 31, 2008 at 11:57 AM, FourthAxis (< 20) wrote:

Right now sentiment is split, how can anyone be contrarian?  I agree.

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