Bearish prognostications on real estate is based on reasoned and sound logical analysis. But that’s the nature of rhetoric. There’s little doubt that bears are intelligent creatures with the ability to create devastatingly cogent arguments against almost anything (including being a bear).
Now, there is a topic that doesn’t often surface on many Vancouver real estate blogs, and that’s the motivations of bears. Their group-think have attempted to persuade us since about 2005, beginning with the appearance of the Vancouver Housing Blog. Given the recent strength of the market, those on the sidelines pondering the “correctness” of bear forecasts have been side-swiped! Some have even been demanding apologies from the bears for their “malfeasance”. I think the anomie is somewhat misplaced but if I had been a bear following word for word what the bear experts were saying, I’d be rightly pissed about hesitating these past 5 years! I’m not saying the bears are wrong, but I’m not saying they’re right either. It isn’t that simple. When looking for informed analysis on the Internet, we must consider just really how valuable is someone else’s two cents. We must look deeper at what they’re really saying.
Crouching Bear, Hidden Motives
- Do as I say, not as I do. Many bears will post some economic or financial news and say the sky is falling. Why? Partly this is to assuage any fear and uncertainty they face. Being a bear or a bull is inherently speculative. So finding confirmatory news soundbites is soothing to bears and bulls alike. But there is a deeper incentive at work here. They want to convince enough people so that the demand would decrease and prices along with it. But why? Bears’ goal: to hide the fact they’re bulls wearing bear disguises! They really want to buy, for if not, why do they bother to comment at all?
- Calling people names. Here are a few: shill, realtard, specuvestor, sheeple, lemming, immigrant, criminal etc. They want to ensure that people know that they’re the most rational and level-headed individuals around because their understanding of the mechanisms driving the Vancouver market is more sophisticated than everyone else. But let’s call this name calling for what it really is: bullying. Bears’ goal: to instill fear and discredit those who bought or those contemplating buying. What did the bulls do to deserve this?
- Necessary Illusions. Many bears have claimed that an independent voice is needed to fight the one-sided news coverage. Fair enough. The Internet does democratize access to information. But then how do the bears justify selectively picking out news soundbites that fit their bearish worldview? The flip side of a one-sided bias is another one-sided bias. That said, there is the occasional insightful debate at VancouverCondo.info or Rob Chipman’s blog. However most of the bear commentators are doing a real disservice to those trying to make the biggest decision of their lives. Bears’ goal: to confuse by presenting their bias as balance. Where are the blogs that find common ground?
- Moral Suasion. I’ve never understood the moralizing against market participants. Those “flippers” or “pumpers” are somehow responsible for making bears’ lives miserable. Everyone faces tradeoffs. Some people really value their housing and will do whatever they can to get it. Everyone else is free to choose to do the same. There is no conspiracy against the bears. AND, there’s nothing wrong with being a renter! If there’s any kind of inferiority-superiority complex at play, it’s the renter-who-wants-to-own that’s rousing the lynch mob. Bears’ goal: to display moral superiority.
- Being emotional. I really hate how some commentators point to emotional sentiment as something negative. What’s with all the mysognistic BS about their partners’ “nesting” instincts? Antonio Damasio has shown that reason relies on both the right and left hemispheres: the implication is that one can’t make rational decisions without emotions; the cold calculating hyper-rational investor is just a Hollywood caricature. Is there a Dragon’s Den of Vulcans? Have guts to use your gut. I think this just shows how some bears are mere amateurs when it comes to decision making. Bears’ goal: to conflate emotionality with irrationality and wrong-headedness. (And possibly to justify chauvinism against the female gender.)
- Investment Savvy (or lack thereof). Often used to brand bulls who are supposedly praying for capital gains. Take Rob Chipman’s advice: don’t treat your principal residence like an investment. In other words, don’t reduce your home life to a metric. There’s more to investment returns than pure monetary considerations. As they say, home is where the heart is. Bears’ goal: to make you feel shitty about having a home.
Anyways that’s all I have to say for now. I’m sure you clever bears will trample on my horse dung. Maybe now there is an incentive to uncover this blogs’ insidiously mysterious hidden motivations?