Claman of Fox Business talks Dow 22,000 and stock market coverage
Fox Business Network anchor Liz Claman joined the network in October 2007 and anchors “Countdown to the Closing Bell,” which airs weekdays at 3 p.m.
Throughout her tenure at Fox Business, Claman has conducted exclusive interviews with every U.S. Treasury Secretary from John Snow to Paul O’Neill, Larry Summers, Timothy Geithner and Jack Lew.
Claman has brought a roster of business leaders including JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, Twitter co-founders Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams and Biz Stone, Google/Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, and Microsoft founder Bill Gates to Fox Business viewers as well as world leaders, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko.
Prior to joining Fox Business, Claman served as an anchor at CNBC, most recently anchoring “Morning Call” and “Wake Up Call,” “Market Watch,” and “Today’s Business.” During her time at CNBC, Claman landed the first one-hour live one-on-one interview with Warren Buffett.
Claman spoke by email with Talking Biz News about covering the Dow Jones Industrial Average breaking the 22,000 barrier on Monday and how the network covers the stock market. What follows is an edited transcript.
What’s the significance in reporting about the Dow hitting 22,000 to Fox Business viewers?
Not much. It’s a round number that somehow thrills investors. Almost like fireworks. Everyone oohs and ahhs but the spectacle itself is pretty ephemeral.
What’s the strategy at Fox Business for covering the market on a daily basis?
The market is the star during the Claman Countdown. The final hour of the day is crucial so we’re constantly updating information for our viewers on what’s up, what’s down and why. But sometimes the star calls out sick.
There are days when the market is flat. Heck, there are years when the market does nothing. July of last year it was stuck in a 1 percent trading range — barely moving. Not that I was around back then but in 1957 it was doing the same thing, simply treading water. So to freak out and lead with “The Dow is up 2 points!’ or “Take a look at Apple stock, it’s marching higher by half a percent” doesn’t really offer our viewers value, especially if they don’t own Apple stock.
So, the “Business” in Fox Business isn’t exclusive to the stock market. On any given day, we could be talking about cyber security after a massive government hack, or the hottest trend in real-estate for millennials, or new efforts to cut regulations and bureaucratic red-tape for small businesses.
Small businesses aren’t publicly traded but they sure employ millions of people who often take their paycheck, turn around and use it to either buy shares in public companies, or buy the products and services those companies offer. That’s just as valuable as following the market tick by tick.
How do you report on how the market is being affected by changes in Washington?
First, we were the only business network that nearly two years ago recognized that a billionaire businessman was running for president. That’s right up our alley. We said, let’s cover it from the standpoint of whether he can sell Americans on the idea that, because he’s run a large business, he might take the reins of a country that has struggled mightily with budget and infrastructure issues along with wasteful spending and get it into line.
From there, I think we’ve been the best at looking through a different prism at each DC development. When he announces increased military spending, fewer regulations, plans to improve the jobs picture, improving cyber security, we’ll bring those stories to our viewers in a way that isn’t just about the stocks being affected but also about how it’ll affect the economy and the nation. Each show is different but I’m most interested in making sure that by the time the closing bell rings, viewers are a bit smarter about their money and their world because they gave me an hour of their time.
What are some of the major government/regulatory factors affecting the stock market?
President Trump has signed many executive orders to reduce regulations in different sectors. Not all but many regulations are just plain job and dream killers. There are so many ridiculous rules and regs out there for starting a business that I bet 70 percent of would-be entrepreneurs simply give up. Just talking about it has been like a salve for market and investment sentiment.
Some things miss the mark. The president has made bringing back coal a big platform of his. I’m just not sure you can reverse what utility executives are already entrenched in now and that’s modernizing and cleaning up how they provide electricity. There’s a place for coal and that’s exporting but as for big moves by U.S. companies to reverse newer, greener policies that are well entrenched already, a lot of smart people aren’t convinced you can put that genie back in the bottle.
How much do investors pay attention to what’s going on in Washington?
If they’re smart, they’ll pay attention. They shouldn’t let it drive their investment decisions but it matters.
So many factors control the joystick of moving markets — economic data, individual company moves, global events, hurricanes, earnings, fundamentals — that it’s ridiculous to say Washington “uber alles.”
What do you see as future issues out of DC affecting the market?
Tax reform, if it’s done correctly, has massive potential. A big infrastructure plan would have the most salubrious effect on the markets. When you invest in building bridges and repairing highways, you put people to work in good paying jobs and the rest follows.
Fox Business ratings are up in July and for the year. How much of that is related to the market rising?
Well before the markets began repeatedly hitting record high after record high, we were starting to win. We beat the competition on the day the New York Stock Exchange suffered a massive outage. We beat them on a bunch of Jobs Fridays, we beat them when the Greeks were throwing Molotov cocktails at the Parliament building during their debt crisis, and what personally thrills me is that we beat them on the day of the much-heralded Snap IPO.
Everyone outside of Fox Business loves to say that we’re not taking other biz nets’ audiences because all we do is politics, but if that’s true, how did my show manage to win in both demos and overall households on the day the Dow hit 19k, 20k and 21k?
Brian Jones recently talked about getting younger viewers. How does market coverage play into that?
Did he say how young? My 15-year-old daughter, who is completely unimpressed and disinterested in her mom’s television journalism career by the way, came home one day and told me a boy came up to her in school and said, “I watch your mom every day on TV. I love her show.”
If we can just get 100,000 more of him, we’ve won the young demo. Seriously, it’s almost knee-jerk these days for people to accuse millennials of being lazy and disinterested in the markets, saving and investing. I’m not sure that’s true. They’re just doing it differently than the rest of us have. They use their mobile phones as weapons to find the best and least expensive apps to help them invest and trade. They spend their money differently. They have less interest in material things and prefer to splurge on experiences.
We did an entire series on hugely popular workouts from Tough Mudder to Colour Run to Flywheel to underwater spin. They’ve got millions of devotees and many of them are younger. It doesn’t have to be publicly traded for us to jump all over it. We were the first network to pay attention to companies such as Bonobos, Rue La La, Rent the Runway, Groupon, Blue Apron and Twitter. Younger viewers love stories like that, and so do we.
How do you prepare yourself every day for what DC news might affect the market?
The news flow out of DC has been so fast and furious I keep expecting Vin Diesel to show up at the daily White House press briefing. Each day brings a new bill, revised legislation or a new breaking news drama, each with the potential to move the markets. I’m expected to know details and facts so I can give viewers the information and let them decide. I have a great team that gets me research, but it’s my job to pull an Evelyn Wood every day and speed read through it and be able to discuss it intelligently at 3 p.m. ET when the camera light goes on.
I’d like to think most times we hit the bullseye but sometimes we miss. I sweat those days and beat myself up over them. In my very first job as a production assistant at KCBS Channel 2 News in Los Angeles, I was taught to take the job as a journalist extremely seriously. We’re informing people and that’s a privilege. We need to get it right.
What’s the biggest message you’re trying to convey to viewers about the stock market?
Betting on American business and the entrepreneurial spirit in this country will always be worth more than hiding a pile of cash under the mattress. Over time, the stock market’s returns are better than just about anything else out there. It’s a casino and novice players have to be careful but if you buy great, best-in-class companies at a fair price, in the long run it’s the best way to make money.