CRYSTAL BALL GAZING ON WALL STREET….I’ve always been skeptical of the peculiar brand of instant analysis that the business press engages in when it reports on the day’s stock market news. It’s usually something like “The market declined as today’s unemployment report sparked fears that consumer spending will slow down.” Or, if the market went up that day, it’s “The market rose as today’s unemployment report sparked hopes that a weak labor market will keep a lid on wage increases.” It’s basically just astrology.

But now it’s even worse. Here’s the headline in the LA Times today:

Stocks Jump on Speculation That Iraq Crisis Might End Soon

Huh? What planet are these guys living on? As the story itself notes:

But analysts were quick to question whether Wall Street’s rally of the last two days has staying power. They noted that a war with Iraq was still a distinct possibility….

Ya think?

UPDATE: Have you ever noticed the same effect from biographers of famous people, who all seem hellbent on proving that their subject’s personality was molded by their parents? If both parent and offspring were thrifty, for example, then offspring was clearly following the parental example. But if offspring turns out to spend with wild abandon, then he was obviously rebelling against his parents. If you pay attention, you’ll see this in practically every biography you read.