Traders woke up to a pleasant surprise on Tuesday morning, with equity Futures strongly higher. CNBC anchors were exuberant as previous earnings and credit fears melted away.

The cause? An internet April Fool’s hoax that backfired.

Dedicated short fund manager Doug Kass, of Seabreeze Partners Short LP, put out an early morning, tongue-in-cheek commentary, titled Time to Buy the Bull? The long time Bearish market pundit and writer for The Street.com and Real Money announced that he was raising his year end price targets for the S&P500 to 1,666, which would reflect a yearly gain of 26%.

The Financial press read the commentary literally. The WSJ announced "Bear Flips Bullish!," causing equity futures to rally. CNN Money covered the joke as if it were a real news item, and Marketwatch declared "Short Seller Starts Stock Rampage." Barron’s headline read "Longtime Bear Tosses in the Towel; Says New Bull Market is Upon Us."

Bloomberg  data service ran a full news alert, specifying the details of the longtime Bear’s hoax, without recognizing it wasn’t real:

- The writedown of toxic paper throughout the world’s financial system has dramatically overstated the severity of the credit issue.

- The major money center banks and brokers will be a contributing factor to a surprising 25%+ rise in corporate profits.

- Shares of financials, which have been unfairly targeted by the short community over the last year (monoline insurers, banks, brokerages, etc.), could double in price by year-end.

- Oil prices, stimulated almost entirely by managed commodity trading funds and hedge funds are destined to drop below $50/barrel by year end.

- The U.S. economy will avoid recession, as housing has definitely bottomed;

Bloomberg failed to note these comments were all in jest, adding to the upwards market pressure.

The veteran fund manger had assumed that readers would get the April
Fool’s joke — but never imagined it would go over the heads of veteran
financial writers.

Shortly after the open, US equities were in a strong rally mode. The Dow was up over 230 points, and Nasdaq had gained almost 2%, up 50 points.

The short seller issued a sheepish mea culpa that morning. "I apologize to my partners, and to my friends, and especially to the SEC, for whom I have the greatest possible respect. I never intended markets to be manipulated in this manner. I was only trying to make some traders, who have been having a tough year, break a smile . . .

One part of the hoax turned out to have a surprising result. As part of the April fool’s joke, Kass announced he would host a new CNBC show, called "The Mad Bull," at 4:30 p.m. EDT daily and after "The Closing Bell." CNBC program director Bill McChesney said that the station had already test marketed the idea, and the show had a very enthusiastic response.  The program "The Mad Bull" will begin airing in June.

>

Sources:
Time to Buy the Bull?
Doug Kass
Real Money  Silver, 4/1/2008 7:44 AM EDT
http://www.thestreet.com/b/dps/te/theedge1.html#entryId10410074

Alternate URL:
http://www.seabreezepartners.net/newsArticle.asp?id=213

Short Seller Starts Stock Rampage
Dave Callaway
Marketwatch, April 1, 2008
http://tinyurl.com/32vt5p

Longtime Bear Tosses in the Towel; Says New Bull Market is Upon Us
Alan Abelson
Barron’s, April 1, 2008
http://online.barrons.com/article/SB120674503851173099.html

Bear Flips Bullish!
David Gaffen
WSJ, April 1, 2008
http://blogs.wsj.com/marketbeat/

Category: Financial Press, Markets, Short Selling, Trading

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

61 Responses to “Internet Hoax Gooses Stock Market”

  1. yoganmahew says:

    You’re a funny fellow.

  2. michael schumacher says:

    Well that may be what “they ” want you to attribute to this rally however it’s not just because of him. If he thinks it was all causedby his “joke” then he needs to check his ego at the door.

    Yet another excuse to push the “up” button….you really think that bushco would let the markets fall during the great power grab???

    Come on Barry,, even you know how stupid relating to one “event” is…..This is just another excuse since “we” need to find something to cling to.

    The SEC will most likely “investigate” since there was an admission. I guess blatantly buying futures at any cost gets overlooked day after day but a joke?….no we can’t tolerate that.

    Ciao
    MS

  3. AJF says:

    Seriously, I know it is 4/1, but is Kass really hosting the “Mad Bull” on CNBC?

  4. SPECTRE of Deflation says:

    Kass moved the market 233 points, and I guess he was allowed to run the ISM numbers as well? LOL!

  5. rob says:

    Okay this is the second time I’ve been had but good this morning … good work

  6. SPECTRE of Deflation says:

    MS, thankfully we have the Democrats looking out for us. LOL! April Fools indeed!

  7. DH says:

    Kass, once again is King!! He doesn’t move markets because he is ahead of them:)

  8. ferd mertz says:

    4/1 is a semi-permanent state of mind in these markets. welcome back goldilocks!

  9. Jim M says:

    Efficient markets! Buy on the rumor, sell on the April fool’s joke.
    Seriously, if true, this has to go down as an indictment of the perma-bull press. Time for them to engage in some deep reflection on their unthinking cheerleader role.
    Or not.

  10. Jay Weinstein says:

    I like April Fool’s Day There is some funny stuff on Minyanville as well.

    Let’s face it, the market will rally strongly this month whether you like it or not. Shorts will cover, CNBC will scream, etc. etc. We have seen the story before.

    After that, it is anyone’s guess.

    Question: the ISM prices paid number was up dramatically. How good is that data, and what are the margin implications?

  11. Eric Davis says:

    This market is nuts… All my respect to Doug… but usually his bullishness drives the market down…..

    I’m trying to figure out if I’m still asleep…. I’ve woken up in Bizzaro world.

  12. Yargo says:

    Doug Kass already said that he was going long into the quarter end. All that I see is that the guy was trying to juice his profits on the long side and get a good opportunity to short this thing. It’s absolutely shameful that people with his kind of influence can profit off of this.

  13. Too Bearish, Too Late, Rear Mirror Investing says:

    The futures spiked at 3:00 AM, when the European markets open, not when Kass issued his release.

    Why are you trying to distort the facts and to find another “fat finger error” excuse for the rally?

    Just admit that you are too bearish and it was a mistake “going crazy short” at the major bottom (when S&P was trading around 1280 you were talking about going “crazy short” instead of buying).

  14. kaan says:

    I think the real credit should go to the japanese financial institutions.Today is beginning of new financial year and resumption
    of the carry trade party.

  15. rob says:

    Lol, it is BR’s april fools joke, click on the linkees they don’t lead to anything in particular.

  16. michael schumacher says:

    BTW I can’t help but think he knew EXACTLY what he was doing……

    Total douchebag IMO….

    Ciao
    MS

  17. Peter Glyman says:

    I’m just going to stop reading today. lol

  18. Roger Bigod says:

    Is it me, or is this site pretty much the same today as any other day? ;-)

    OTOH, could be the times. In the markets, every day is some kind of Fool’s Day.

  19. Larry Blumen says:

    I don’t see anything anywhere else about this.

    Ritholtz – are you hoaxing the hoax?

  20. Boris says:

    Barry- very interesting…
    What is it with this stupid market?We get massive writedowns and it shoots up!!—We are in a recession and Amazon dot com shoots up 3 points??? I think the stock market is an April fools joke

  21. AJF says:

    Barry,
    I’m sure you are smiling right now. Good one. Classic. BTW- if Kass were to host that show, I’d think the apocalypse would be upon us!

  22. SPECTRE of Deflation says:

    Kass didn’t do shit this morning. Check the dollar against the yen and the commodity bloodbath for starters. It was 3:00 AM when futures were goosed, but Kass can be pitched if ya like.

  23. JDS says:

    Doug’s article is available for free here:
    http://www.seabreezepartners.net/newsArticle.asp?id=213

  24. SPECTRE of Deflation says:

    Barry, you are a scoundrel! LOL!! Ya got me.

  25. Jay Weinstein says:

    Hello, have some of you had a “sense-of-humor-ectomy” recently?

    This is a grueling line of work, a good laugh every now and again is priceless!

    Any responses to my ISM prices paid query [a serious question BTW]

  26. blin says:

    Some of you may be overlooking the fact (although you wouldn’t be able to tell thus far this year) that the first trading day of the month is one of the strongest trading days of the month.

    Yesterday the market setup for a sizeable move up or down today …it looks like the bulls won this battle.

  27. michael schumacher says:

    lost in this is that FGIC was downgraded three levels by Moody’s…….last night shortly after midnight ET….

    this is not a market…it’s a socialized ponzi scheme now.

    First day of the quarter and the “solvency” issue is nowhere to be found.

    Disgusting…..
    Ciao
    MS

  28. michael schumacher says:

    Joke or not…..this market (and it’s consistent manipulation) is just no longer funny.

    Sorry to rain on the parade but you can joke all you want about it……..the ramifications of the current behavior is not very funny to me.

    Ciao
    MS

  29. Neal says:

    It makes as much sense as anything else does these days.

  30. KirkH says:

    You got me too (for a minute), and it appears some in the comments still haven’t checked the calendar!

    Using a description of a prank as part of your prank is genius misdirection. I’d like to see Penn, Teller, and Ritholtz in Vegas some day.

  31. Pete says:

    Proving Big Picture commenters are as gullible as everyone else. MS was had!

  32. Steven says:

    Barry, you’ve come up with the best April Fools joke of the day.

    Did you get Doug’s permission to use his name?

  33. Bill says:

    This is absolutely the funniest story I’ve heard in a long time!! Truth is stranger than fiction!!

  34. michael schumacher says:

    THIS is funny….

    http://www.planet-f1.com/story/0,18954,3213_3373128,00.html

    And it was put out yesterday so it’s not part of today’s .

    Still no denial from him either….

    “more of ZE punishment”

    I have to work with this guy too…

    Ciao
    MS

  35. John F. says:

    Following Dick Bove’s bullish pronouncements on the financials makes every day seem like April Fool’s.

  36. Roman says:

    So does today mark the TOP of the Fed Rally. Unemployment comes out Friday. This seems like a good point to double up some short positions.

  37. big tuna says:

    LOL BR, nice one. I like how not all comments get it yet. Or do they. Round and round, reflective hoaxatology.\!

  38. Movie Guy says:

    Doug Kass’ piece was entertaining. Anyone stupid enough not to get his April 1 humor shouldn’t be performing work except on highway gangs. Or just stay home, watch TV, and convert oxygen.

    Doug ended the piece with April Fool’s Day! for the slow-minded crowd.

    Yet, some didn’t get it.

    You can’t make this stuff up.

  39. Greg0658 says:

    Lake flows to catch Basin to leeking Valve(WS) to Loops of piping to Valve(G).

    Valve(WS) catch pan provides for east coast & players.

    Loop(A) to pre Valve(WS) provides incentive.

    Loop(G) stuck in flow.

    Valve(G) outflow of Loop(G) debates the following:
    (take Mastercard 45<229 on 131.13M shares)
    W sells on news reaps 400% gain
    X now sells reaps 200% gain
    Y now sells gets 100% principle
    Z now might sell gets Z% loss

    Now that the (G) understands … sees the interest exspense of 7<24% on credit card balance … interest income of 0<4% on checking and savings balance … What To Do Now? When there is only 1 system?

    key:
    A,W,X,Y,Z = algebraic items
    G = Globe
    WS = Wall Street

    ps – did the great GOOG see this one coming?

  40. yusef says:

    Movie Guy. You are an idiot.

  41. Webster says:

    You know, the word gullible is not in the dictionary

  42. Roger Bigod says:

    At least some serious people aren’t wasting time on this trivia. I can’t wait to sign up for the Virgin-Google Mars settlement project.

  43. AGG says:

    This straw the bulls are grasping looks real but will turn out to be a 3D hologram. Next comes the “many people made millions during the Depression years in the stock market”.
    More log rolling in white water.

  44. Jonathan Garber says:

    No wonder why LEH needed to raise $4 billion

    5:13PM Lehman Brothers: Moody’s downgrades certain Lehman XS Alt-A deals (LEH) 37.64 -0.23 : Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the ratings of 279 tranches from 27 Alt-A transactions issued by Lehman XS Trust Series. One hundred sixty two downgraded tranches remain on review for possible further downgrade. Additionally, 97 tranches were placed on review for possible downgrade. The collateral backing these transactions consists primarily of first-lien, fixed and adjustable-rate, Alt-A mortgage loans. The ratings were downgraded, in general, based on higher than anticipated rates of delinquency, foreclosure, and REO in the underlying collateral relative to credit enhancement levels. The actions described below are a result of Moody’s on-going review process.

  45. Andy says:

    New trading scheme:

    “Buy on the joke, sell on the reality”?

  46. Toro says:

    He had me going, that was for sure. It was not until he wrote that Dubai was going to buy all the SPYs and QQQs that I thought “Wait a minute?”

  47. I must admit I read Kass’s column and sometimes act on the info.
    But really his recommended trades can leave you dizzy as they reverse course faster than your fingers can do the walking.
    His opinions change as fast as Oprah’s weight.

  48. Francois says:

    The real April Fool hoax is the market is strong rally mode, because (cough) as per news outlets (cough cough) banks will raise capital (future tense here…) and manufacturing is doing “better than expected”. (Where have we read that expression before? Hmmm!)

    Like it should be a surprise with a dollar that weak.

    Having fun yet?

  49. FulhamFrankie says:

    This jape is too close to the truth for comfort. Hands up those who can actually see a day when this happens!

    “We laugh because it’s funny and we laugh because it’s true” unknown

  50. NASA says:

    New Space Station Robot Asks to be Called “Dextre the Magnificent”

    http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html

  51. JohhnyVee@tahoo.com says:

    Suckers Rally?

  52. Paul M. says:

    Gee, I’ve rebooted my computer five times already but it still shows the market up 3%. I want some of whatever the market’s smoking – but its probably illegal.

    It would be a very painful April Fools joke if Doug Kass gets a margin call today – but it was a fun read none the less.

  53. Rod says:

    Buy the rumor, sell the humor.

  54. Darkness says:

    Yummy meta-joke. Nicely played.

  55. DonKei says:

    Lehman Gains as $4 Billion Share Sale Calms Investors (Update2)

    By Yalman Onaran

    April 1 (Bloomberg) — Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., the fourth-largest U.S. securities firm, rose the most in two weeks in New York trading after raising $4 billion from a stock sale aimed at quelling speculation it’s short of capital.

    >let’s rewrite this headline to make it less of an April Fool’s joke and more real:

    “Lehman raises $4b because its investors know its Uncle Ben is good for the money, and they’ll get paid more by Lehman than they would by investing directly w/ their Uncle.”

  56. Darkness says:

    >THIS is funny….

    >http://www.planet-f1.com/story/0,18954,3213_3373128,00.html

    >And it was put out yesterday so it’s not part of today’s .

    Yeah, that article yesterday could have been a classic April firster, especially the part about Hitler attending his parents’ wedding, which was held in Goebbels’s house.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/formula_1/article3649197.ece

  57. meneame.net says:

    Una broma como posible causa de la subida de las Bolsas. [EN]

    Una pequeña broma puede ser la causante de la vertiginosa subida (+3,19%) de la bolsas estadounidenses del 1 de abril. El desencadenante han sido unos informes favorables al banco Bear publicados en el servicio de ‘News alert’ de Bloomberg …

  58. moom says:

    Rather “post-modern”.

  59. Meta April Fool’s

    Okay, this is now getting downright silly. Let’s clear this up, before it gets further out of hand: Last night, I set to post my April Fool’s gag — about Google’s new search engine that allows you to search one day into the future. It was cute, but ta…

  60. Meta Recursive April Fool’s

    Okay, this is now getting downright silly. Let’s clear this up, before it gets further out of hand: Last night, I set to post my April Fool’s gag — about Google’s new search engine that allows you to search one day into the future. It was cute, but ta…

  61. Chuck says:

    It’s really scary that this “joke” seemed just as believable to its readers as any serious expert advice column written by any of the leading serious advice analysts. And is just as likely to be true.