Back in early 2009 I was struck by the incessant credit crisis coverage that had been going on since Lehman’s Brothers collapse in 2007, and before then if you had been paying attention to the sub-prime mortgage asset-backed securities issue. I thought it had to have impact on how people would behave in terms of consumption choices.
Now it’s late 2011, and we have just come through 5+ years of unending credit crisis, recessions and now debt crisis news coverage.
The coverage of “the markets” – those mysterious beyond-human-beings-making-decisions markets – is like a game show or maybe an endless cricket game, just a lot faster: like hockey where the spectator never quite “sees” the puck but can infer it from the players motions.
The headlines are unhelpful at best to illuminate the issues – headlines are there to “sell papers”, or in online vernacular “secure eyeballs.” (It’s good to remember the motivations each industry has in its activities.)
Yesterday’s news of German Bond Auction not selling out is a prime example of disinformation moving faster than light (Neutrino pun intended): How many in the public who consume headlines know what a bond auction is, how it works and who the usual buyers are? If you read beyond the headlines you might learn a few other facts:
They come from the bottom of a Wall Street Journal article headlined: “German Bond Sale Spurs Worries”
- “Germany had never tried to sell a 10-year bond that paid only 2% interest, and the historically low yields appeared to depress appetite among the traditional circle of buyers.”
- “Germany sold 3.644 billion Euros at 1.98% average interest.”
- “Germany traditionally auctions bonds, rather than operating a syndicate of primary dealers to place them with investors. The Finanzagentur, the government’s issuing agent, then gradually feeds the bonds it doesn’t sell into the secondary market. This system means that there is no pressure on banks to bid for the bonds or risk their relationship with the sovereign. Moreover, banks across the Continent are trying to reduce their holdings of sovereign bonds, or at least not take on extra exposure, Mr. Krautzberger said.”
- Take a moment to check out the interactive feature in the article that shows how German bond yields have declined recently …
No doubt it sounds like the Finanzagentur miscalculated and underestimated the political sentiments and headlines that could follow if they did not sell out and the concerns they might raise.
Bringing it home I have two questions for you: How much are the headlines affecting news-spectators decision making about their own debt, credit, income, savings and spending? And what is your organization’s strategy to adapt as consumer behaviours keep shifting ever more online/mobile which has shifted traditional power away from brands and toward consumers and the platforms they use?