One of the best parts of my job is that I get to read and watch the financial press from across the world. Normally it is not too bad but, that said, once in a while you read or hear some complete and utter dribble.  Here are some recent sound bites I’ve come across and what they actually mean.

“Apart from the mortgage and student loans, they do not have any debt.”
Right, and I am a vegetarian apart from having steak five nights a week.

“Earnings missed estimates.
The earnings didn’t just miss estimates they, more importantly, missed earnings. As in they didn’t make as much money as they wanted to.

“It’s a Ponzi scheme.”
This is just an excuse for disagreeing or not liking something. It is lazy journalism not knowing the difference.

“He predicted the market crash in 2008.”
He might have done, but if you look, you will most likely find out he predicted 34 crashes in the past 20 years that didn’t happen. Don’t look for someone who predicts a crash, find someone who acts properly in your interests after the crash.

“Stocks suffered their biggest drop since October.”
October was only six weeks ago. A bit of short-thinking and panic-mongering can go a long way when viewing figures.

“We’re optimistically cautious.”
Pure genius. One of the best clichés I have heard.

“It’s time to buy or sell a particular company’s stocks.”
Who is this information for? The 25-year-old woman with at least another 30 years of investments and savings to go, or the 60-year-old who is getting ready to retire? It makes a difference.

“Investors are leaving the market.”
Even if you sell a stock, someone has to buy it. The nature of the market is that all stocks are owned all the time. This may refer to the difficulty of selling on your stock, known as a secondary market. The investors are not leaving; there is a shortage of new investors.

“More volatility is expected.”
When is this not the case? It will always be this way. It is the same as saying you expect more rainy seasons. The word you are looking for is increased, not more.

Financial journalists, especially the ones who work for 24-hour news channels, have to tow the channel’s guidelines on reporting each story and how it should be portrayed. For yourself, look on the internet and find writers and publications you like and trust. I am not going to tell you who to read. That’s your job to find out for yourself. You will only find the good once you have tasted the bad.

Paul McLardie is a partner at Total Wealth Management. Contact him at