Power Lunch

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Power Lunch

CNBC's Schacknow: Playing The Guessing Game


How I Guessed Wrong: One wonderful aspect of my job is the ability to see potential market moving news before the market does. No, I don't get to trade on the information or make money on it. That would be illegal, and even worse, people would get mad at me. What it does do is twofold: it allows CNBC to get the information on the air cleanly, at the appointed time, and it allows me to play the intellectual "how will the market react" game.

Senior Economic Reporter Steve Liesman was in Atlanta to attend a speech by Federal Reserve Governor Donald Kohn - and, as we well know, any speech by a Fed official has the potential to move markets. As is customary, Steve was provided an embargoed copy of the speech a few minutes in advance so that he could go on the air precisely at the time of release (in this case 12:45 pm) and report on what Kohn had to say. Steve went through the speech beforehand and we put together all the dekos and other elements for his report.

Based on what Kohn had to say, I was positive the equity markets would rally. Long story short: he seemed to be more encouraged about inflation trends and less concerned about potential drags on the economy from housing and autos.

The result: nice try. There was very little, if any, immediate reaction in the markets. What you find out over years of playing this kind of game is that the same comments can prompt completely different reactions on different days. There's no way to predict, although it doesn't stop us from trying. Hey, if it were that easy, we'd all be stock market millionaires.

What's That Smell?: Alan Greenspan may have been faced with a plethora of conundrums (or is it "conundra"?) during his term as Fed chairman, but here's one the Breaking News Desk faces every day: we know breaking news when we see it, but is the breaking news "our" breaking news?

Over at our sister cable network MSNBC, they have it much easier - at least in this aspect of news coverage. Any interesting breaking news story is worthy of air. For CNBC, we have to ask ourselves: Is it market moving? Does it affect the people who work in the financial markets? Does it have business implications?

This morning, we got word of a pervasive gas smell that had inundated much of New York. At first, it was a general news story. Then it started to pervade the financial district, where our New York Stock Exchange reporters were starting to smell it. Then, train service into midtown was halted briefly. Then, businesses also started to evacuate, also briefly. Somewhere in the middle, it qualified as a CNBC story - leading us to take Mayor Bloomberg's news conference at 10:40 am in which he stated that the gas leak wasn't believed to be dangerous.