The Stock Market of Public Opinion
Erin is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
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Meanwhile, on the stock market of public opinion...
Perhaps you have seen it already – that annoying Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) piece of spam that has been copied and pasted over and over again, “warning” you that Facebook is now a public company, and as a result the government, evil corporations, and aliens from outer space will now be able to access all of your personal information that you willingly and personally entered into your profile, and will exploit you for their own greedy personal gain.
I wrote once before about how I was excited about the possibilities of Facebook users as Facebook shareholders. I was excited about what it would mean for the website overall, if the users had the voting power of the shareholders. Not often enough are shareholders also active users or customers of the companies they invest in. The combination of enlightened and educated masses making decisions that would both benefit the company financially, as well as improve services to the users excited and thrilled me.
Because I forgot to take into consideration the idiots who pass around internet memes like they are some sort of Bible.
It got me to thinking about the "stock market of public opinion," and how online ineptitude influences the real world.
I now watch with anticipation the proposed regulation in New York City by its ever-watchful mayor, Michael Bloomberg, to limit soda and “sugary drink” sales. The new proposal would not stop consumers from drinking as much soda and sugar as they want, but it would make them have to buy more soda in order to do so. (The proposed regulation would limit sales of certain sugary beverages to 16 ounces in “food sales” establishments. The drink size would be limited, but not the amount of drinks that could be sold.) I have found across the blogosphere, online news comments, and Facebook individuals who believe the amendment is a “nanny state” effort by the government who wants to control our food and diets. I have read accusations that it is all a conspiracy between Bloomberg and Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) and PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP) to increase sales of soft drinks, by packaging them smaller, charging the same price, and then forcing Americans to have to buy more to get the same fix. And I have read theories that such actions would overload landfills, and others that it would cut down on how much goes to landfills. (Apparently public thought is divided on whether or not people really will buy twice as much just to get the same amount.) Smart Money ran a highly biased article entitled “Bloomberg Won't Flatten Soda Sales.” He makes a compelling case for why the regulation would not change soda sales, or make a difference to consumer health. If the conspiracy theorists become more vocal and credible, how will that effect the real stock market? Which brought me back to the Facebook IPO.
I sigh and wonder just how influential the stock market of public opinion really is?
How different would things be today if NASDAQ had not glitched on Facebook's opening day? If all those orders had actually gone through, what stories would we be writing today? What happened to all of those people who never returned to re-place their orders after the glitch? Had they really been so consumed by the hype that when they had a wakeup call, they chose to run away instead? Or was it that the stock market of public opinion changed over that weekend, rebelling against "the man" when they did not get what they wanted the first time, and like lemmings the investors all followed? (Oh NASDAQ, why did you fail us so? Things could have been so different if we were all millionaires today.)
Nothing has changed at Facebook (internet memes and spammers be damned), so why the change in atmosphere? There is the lawsuit claiming that JP Morgan (NYSE: JPM), Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) tipped off certain insiders about the undervalue of the stock prior to the IPO. But shouldn't that backlash be against the trading companies, and not against Facebook itself? No one lost more in the calamitous IPO than Mark "the man" Zuckerberg himself. Is it more believable that he orchestrated a conspiracy to defraud millions of investors knowing full well the whole world had access to the financials? Or were we all so blinded by the hype that we did not see all of the details in front of us when they lowered expectations multiple times during the road show?
Oh that stock market of public opinion is such a fickle beast, so heavily persuaded and influenced by conspiracy theorists and bandwagoners alike.
I, for one, continue to see Facebook as a good opportunity. (Buy low, right?) Nothing has changed at the company in the past few weeks. It is still a behemoth website, with millions and millions of users that are not going anywhere, and it still makes a profit. It is still the first website most people turn to every day. And in spite of the efforts of internet memes mass hoards of people have not fled the site in fear of alien invasions. (You want a good conspiracy theory? I'll start one for you- maybe it is Facebook's jealous competition who starts those rumors, in an effort to steal business, bulk up their own site, and then go public with the largest internet IPO in history. And I bet the Winklevoss twins are behind it!)
Facebook is a steal at $20 a share. I wish the stock market of public opinion could see that.
And while I am at it, I'll start another internet rumor. Maybe the soda pop sales regulation really is a conspiracy between the government and the fizzy water makers? I bet that is who is really behind it! The same amount of drink syrup will still be used to make beverages. But the fizzy water dispensers will get used more often! Obviously, we should all rush to figure out who manufactures fizzy water dispensers and invest in those and then promote the regulation and help it pass. We'll all get rich off of fizzy water dispenser stocks! Until we get called in before Congress for an investigation, our stocks come crashing down, and we are forced to spend our days reading Facebook status updates.
No, there is no truth to any of it. But you should copy and paste this as your Facebook status anyway. Otherwise, people won't know that you believe everything you read in the stock market of public opinion.
ErinAnnie has no positions in the stocks mentioned above, but plans to soon, when she can legally purchase them without being accused of manipulating the stock market for her own gain (Ah! Another conspiracy theory to start!). The Motley Fool owns shares of Facebook, JPMorgan Chase & Co., The Coca-Cola Company, and PepsiCo. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Goldman Sachs Group, PepsiCo, and The Coca-Cola Company. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.