Fake News is something we get asked about all the time.
A search of Google Scholar shows the data science community is spending a lot of time researching “fake news.”
And this is a bit weird because before Trump’s 2016 presidential run the phrase “fake news” basically didn’t exist, as Bloomberg’s nifty News Trends chart below shows.
Trump had a particular view of “fake news.”
I would probably define it differently, as information that someone disseminated knowing it was false with an intent to deceive others.
Using that yardstick, we don’t see a lot of fake news in the finance arena.
Mostly that’s because intentionally manipulating security prices is a crime and the SEC can come after you.
But that doesn’t mean it never happens, as we saw this week when someone created a bogus press release saying Walmart had partnered with Litecoin to accept crypto as a form of payment.
Litecoin prices surged before erasing almost all the gain.
I would argue the Litecoin incident isn’t a story about the media or even fake news so much as its about market manipulation, something that has gone on forever.
There are innumerable examples of market cons throughout history.
My favorite was the story of Gregor MacGregor, who in 1822 sold bonds issued by a fictitious country he invented called Poyais.
According to a BBC article, the country located in Central America was “so fertile it could yield three maize harvests a year.
The water, so pure and refreshing it could quench any thirst – and as if that weren’t enough, chunks of gold lined the riverbeds.”
MacGregor also sold plots of land to settlers who sailed there only to discover little more than jungle. There was no opera house or streets paved with gold.
My favorite part: When news got back to London that Poyais didn’t exist, the bonds traded lower. But they didn’t go to zero right away.
Some investors bought the dip.
Evidently, they saw an opportunity.