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The Fortune Tellers

Just as "spin" has taken over politics in America, so too has it come to define the long bull market on Wall Street. The booming trade in stocks, which has become a national obsession, has produced an insatiable demand for financial intelligence - and plenty of new, highly paid players eager to supply it. On television and the Internet, commentators and analysts are not merely reporting the news, they are making news in ways that provide huge windfalls for some investors and crushing losses for others. And they often traffic in rumor, speculation, and misinformation that hit the market at warp speed. Howard Kurtz, widely recognized as America's best media reporter, and the man who revealed the inner workings of the Clinton administration's press operation in the national bestseller Spin Cycle, here turns his skeptical eye on the business-media revolution that has transformed the American economy. He uncovers the backstage pressures at television shows like CNBC's Squawk Box and CNN's Moneyline; at old-media bastions like The Wall Street Journal and Business Week, which are racing to keep up with the twenty-four-hour news cycle; and at Internet start-ups like and JagNotes, real-time operations in the very arena where fortunes are made and lost with stunning swiftness. Bombarded by all this white noise, who among the fortune tellers can investors really trust? Kurtz provides an indispensable guide with this eye-opening account of an unseen world, based on eighteen months of shadowing the most influential, colorful, and egotistical people in business and journalism. Among the people we meet in its pages are: * Ron Insana, Maria Bartiromo, David Faber, Lou Dobbs, and the other famous faces of cable TV * The manic king-of-all-media Jim Cramer, who juggles four different identities - Wall Street trader, television commentator, columnist, and Internet entrepreneur - with wildly varying degrees of success * Shoe-leather reporters Steve Lipin, Chris Byron, and Gene Marcial, whose exclusives drive up stocks or quickly deflate them * Superstar analysts Ralph Acampora, Abby Joseph Cohen, and Henry Blodget, whose predictions make the Dow and Nasdaq gyrate * Internet CEOs Kim Polese and Kevin O'Connor, who struggle to ride the media tiger while promoting their high-flying companies No one has ever reported from inside the Wall Street media machine or laid bare the bitter feuds, cozy friendships, and whispered leaks that move the market. Kutrz exposes the disturbing conflicts of interest among the brokerage analysts and fund managers whose words can boost or bash stocks - thanks to scoop-hungry journalists who rarely question whether these gurus are right or wrong. And he chronicles the journalistic hype that helped propel Net stocks into the stratosphere until they began plummeting back to earth. In a time of head-spinning volatility, The Fortune Tellers is essential reading for all of us who gamble our savings in today's overheated stock market.
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The growing accessibility of the Internet and of cable television have made financial information more available to more people than ever before. As Americans increasingly invest in the stock market, journalists who cover Wall Street have gained a celebrity status once reserved for network anchormen. As Washington Post media reporter Kurtz deftly shows in this incisive expos‚, the hosts of financial shows on such networks as CNN and CNBC, as well as certain online and print reporters, can "move markets" the way only analysts were able to do in years past. This trend has led to a growing interdependence between journalists, brokers and analysts. Kurtz (Spin Cycle) makes good on his unparalleled access to many of the major players, who come across as professional and thoughtful, though they sometimes get carried away by events they can't control and often find themselves caught in conflicts of interest. Jim Cramer is one of Kurtz's prime examples: founder of the financial Web site as well as the manager of a $300-million hedge fund, he frequently writes about companies whose stocks he owns. But Cramer is far from the only one on Wall Street touting companies in which he has an interest. While Kurtz concludes with the predictable observation that Wall Street is a crazy, greedy, morally ambiguous place, his first-rate analysis of the interplay between the media and American financial institutions more than justifies the point. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Richard Bernstein The New York Times Kurtz's indefatigable, gossipy, punchily written examination of Wall Street and the assiduously reported, wide-ranging, [and] full of insider stories. David Lazarus San Francisco Chronicle A must-read account of the way stock prices are manipulated by information-hungry media outlets and no-account market analysts. Marcia Vickers Business Week An impressive job of penetrating the rumors, hidden alliances, and cutthroat competition that drive financial news.

In this well-written, detailed, and thought-provoking analysis of business news, Kurtz, Washington Post media reporter and the author of Spin Cycle: Inside the Clinton Propaganda Machine, discusses how business journalists in all media report their stories and how this reporting moves financial markets. He details the relationships between technical analysts from brokerage houses and the various corporations they do business with, the corporations themselves, the traders on the floors of the stock exchanges, and business journalists. As Kurtz demonstrates, the activities of individuals in these groups, including their conflicts of interest and "spin" tactics, influence what information is reported. Kurtz portrays his fellow media professionals as "fortune tellers" because they convey not only factual material such as earnings reports and well-documented corporate activity but the opinions of pundits, corporate CEOs, and business forecasters. Readers will enjoy Kurtz's well-documented portraits of such celebrated personalities as James Cramer, Maria Bartiromo, Ron Insana, and Mark Haines. This timely and intriguing work is a good choice for public and academic libraries.DSteven J. Mayover, formerly with Free Lib. of Philadelphia Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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