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More Misleading Financial Information from Fox

I was trying to see how Fox Business was handling Monday’s cratering of the equity markets. While the talking heads were delivering more-or-less the straight story on what was happening, the folks over in the graphics department were going over their heads, delivering fake news (as it were) to the hapless souls sitting in waiting rooms and other places where the sound isn’t on.

First there’s this, which is kind of mysterious because who among us really invests in these futures?

But then they go further, going through each market by week and by month. I’ll spare you the repetition and just show you the pattern:

DJIA One-Week Scale. Up 254.69.
DJIA One-Month Scale. Also up 254.69.

What they’re showing you is the change, not over the period of a week or the month, but since the low for that period. Over the month the DJIA has actually dropped a lot. And over the week it’s risen a small amount, but not as much.

Also notice the “Today’s Change,” top right corner in parens: That’s actually the change for the last trading day, Friday, not today, Monday.

Here’s the thing: If you show over any period of time the change since the low, you’re always going to show an increase. Unless you’re actually at that low, in which case it will be zero. But you’ll never show a red down arrow in the top line. So hooray for the Trump economy I guess.

Here’s an example of how they did it in 2013, under a different president:

One-year graph of a healthcare stock.

Here the trend isn’t calculated from the low, it’s calculated from the yearly high, which is almost always going to be a negative number with a red arrow. Obama’s economy won’t score many green arrows this way.

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So why care?

We’ve seen similar things before.

If you show a chart that purports to show a trend over the last month, it should show the trend over the last month, not since the most-recent low. In this case, they present the top-line data in such a way that there is no difference between the indices performance over the last month vs. the last week. Which is of course silly and meaningless.

Money and the markets don’t care about your personal politics. Financial news needs to be objective, and not shade trendlines based on which party could benefit. If they give you the mistaken impression that a stock is going down when it’s actually trending up; of if they give you the same sense with an index; who wins? You can lose real money, that will make your real life less secure. And the talking heads at Fox are not going to make up the difference.

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