The death of the six PM news
For the most part I try to avoid watching any television for a number of reasons. However every now and then I'll watch some sports and immediately be reminded of the reasons I deliberately avoid watching television.
So I was watching Wimbledon and in many of the breaks there were particularly obnoxious advertisements for retail day trading applications running at high frequencies. This is always a good sign that there's some sort of bubble situation going on, though I'm sure as the recession we are already in worsens those advertisements will thankfully go away. One such platform talks about how it's the "official trading partner" of an National Rugby League team. How absurd, generally speaking when I think of something like football or rugby I think of football or rugby related things. Retail trading just couldn't be further away from anything to do with professional sports in my mind. Have a think about professional rugby players, what image do you see? Then think about the markets and finance, would you want these professional athletes managing your money? These people are amazing athletes for whom I have a lot of respect, but in the realm of finances the professionals work just as hard, its not easy to get to the top in either of those areas. What makes the imagery in these advertisements particularly manipulative is that they covey this notion that anyone can make it in trading, which just simply isn't the case. Even smart people will get massively disadvantaged by informational asymmetry when making zero-sum game trading positions against bigger funds, and frankly people of below average intelligence have no chance of winning at all. Unfortunately people will fall for this lie and lose a lot of money in the process, and even more disturbing is that there's enough of these people out there to make it profitable enough to keep these annoying advertisements running. This will unfortunately keep the cycle of these annoying advertisements going... at least until the next legs down in the bear market outright destroys most of these crappy retail trading app firms.
But this wasn't even close to the highlight. There was a "9 News update" talking about international lotteries and providing "information" such as "how much you can win" and "where you can play from". Yes these are the same sorts of lotteries you will have found as spam in your email boxes a few years ago. That said anti-spam email techniques tend to automatically delete any emails about these international lottery tickets, as the scam score rankings that the algorithms will ascribe to such content is extremely high. These sorts of scams, and I think it's not a stretch to call these financial scams1, have been around a long time so those anti-spam filters have had a lot of time to train themselves to reject these sorts of things.
In what universe is this news? How is it that something that won't even make it to my spam box is making it to the 6pm news?
This feels a step below even fake news and is easily into the "not even news" category. If the lotteries were fake at least in that case people couldn't go waste their money on them. Unfortunately as of the 4th of July 2022 a deal was made between some lottery companies and a payment processor that is allowing a great expansion of the opportunities for Australians to engage in exceedingly losing sucker bets at their local newsagents. Perhaps something like this could be called information smog, all entropy and no value, in fact an outcome worse than zero value for anyone who gets sucked in by this. I know that journalism has been dying a slow and painful death for a number of years now due to the declines in advertising revenues. But claiming something like this is newsworthy even more directly erodes any prestige or credibility that might have once been attached to those institutions. Promoting borderline scam lottery operations just feels like even more of a decline in legitimacy in an already declining sector. There's a lot of things the news doesn't cover these days but for once this is something I wish something wasn't covered.
If looked at purely from a financial return on investment point of view there's likely entirely fraudulent schemes, eg Ponzies, that actually offer better returns than these international lotteries. The truly terrifying thought is that the risk adjusted returns are likely considerably better with investing in many fraudulent companies and schemes than these "legitimate" lotteries. Basically the lotteries operate in much the same was as other protection rackets, they pay off enough to keep themselves allowed to operate despite there being no solid arguments that they bring any value at all to society. ↩