Be carefull to invest in new media

Apparently the credit crisis has led banks to looks for creative (read: cheap) ways to aquire market information. This market information is crucial to decide  where to invest their customer’s savings. Well, people should think twice to give their money to investment bank Morgan Stanley. Their 15 year old intern apparently wrote a report on youngster’s media use. His report pleasently surprised the management so much that they made it public. Apparently they are easy to impress.

The report concisely describes youngster’s use of many types of media. Most findings are not that surprising, but provide nice headlines: “Twitter is not for teens”. What casts doubt is that the intern selectively spoke to his peers. How many is not clear. As such they at best only provided a biased picture of their media use.

Is the intern to blame? Of course not. He most likely did his utmost to provide interesting results. Are people at Morgan Stanley to blame? Well, before I answer this question one could ask yourself why the bank decided to publish the report. Because the report was concise and well written? Or because they didn’t have any positive publicity recently?

But are these bankers to blame? Well, yes. These are educated people and should have spotted the limitations of the study. As such, future investments based on this report are at least very risky. Oh I forgot, taking risks is daily business for banks…

Another noteworthy issue is why newspapers noticed this item. Is it the findings? Or is it the fact that it involves a 15 year-old?

Published by

Maurice Vergeer

Associate professor, Radboud University