It’s a rumble! So, yesterday, the Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin wrote a column about rumormongering on Wall Street and how some baddies start rumors to manipulate the markets and why doesn’t the SEC investigate where the rumors come from? This got DealBreaker’s John Carney, whose livelihood is partly dependent on such rumors, kind of worked up, and he wrote a blog post that basically shat all over Sorkin’s column, in which he called the Times reporter “Wonderboy” and got all up on his high horse about freedom of speech and how if the government investigated market rumors then “your right to express your doubts about the financial health of a company would suddenly turn on ex post facto decisions of prosecutors, judges, and juries” and if the SEC started investigating every rumor then we would all basically be just one step closer to living in a terrible dystopia.
It seemed to us like the blogosphere’s business as usual — everyone out here is always angry and paranoid about something. But then Sorkin actually talked back:
With apologies to Mr. Carney — whose point of view was shared by others — this argument is self-serving and, frankly, nuts.
Whoa! This never happens! It’s like watching one of those movies where the jock taunts the nerd for the last time, causing the nerd to go ape shit and punch him in the face.
He went on:
The column did not suggest that investors could not come to an opinion about a company and share it. That’s free speech. What I’m taking issue with — and what, to me, seems awfully hard to defend — is the practice of market manipulation through rumor-mongering.… You’re free to share your view that Apple might blow through its earnings number or that Lehman Brothers is headed for trouble. But you’re not free to intentionally tell others that you know that Apple will blow through its numbers — with the intent of pushing up the price — when you don’t know that at all.… The focus should be on the originator of the rumor, and that person’s intent. That seems pretty reasonable, no?
Then! Felix Salmon of Portfolio (annoyed that his rant about Sorkin’s column did not get as much real estate, maybe? Or not? Just saying) threw his withering two cents in the comments:
Andrew, the practice of market manipulation through rumor-mongering might be awfully hard to defend, but it’s also awfully hard to identify and to prosecute. From a regulator’s point of view, unless and until you think you have a decent chance at doing both, you’re wasting your time, no?
Catty, no? Spurred on by his scrappy gang, DealBreaker’s Carney laid into Sorkin again, reiterating his points and this time concluding that Sorkin himself is helping to bring about impending martial law in the markets and ultimately calling his print brethren a tool of the Man:
Perhaps the most frightening thing about this entire debate is that Sorkin’s column and Dimon’s chat with Charlie Rose have almost certainly encouraged enforcement agents at various government bodies to open investigations. This is how they work over at the enforcement office of the SEC. Open the paper, read the headline, start an investigation.
So, Sorkin’s implementation of free speech is…part of the problem? Interesting. Also, we for one had no idea the SEC worked exactly the same way bloggers do. Crazy! We guess we’ll learn more about that and more, since it’s almost certain this fight will go into overtime.