CNBC's Lawrence Kudlow on Friday made a stock market comment about the earthquake and resulting tsunamis in Japan that have liberal media members hyperventilating.
Before we get to the response, here's what Kudlow said (video follows with partial transcript and commentary):
MELISSA FRANCIS: Let’s take a look at the markets right now as we get close to the top of the hour here. You can see the Dow is trading in positive territory. It’s up, you know, a little more than a tenth of a percent, but still in positive territory. Three tenths of a percent for the NASDAQ. And look at the S&P bouncing back. It’s up about four tenths of a percent. All in all, the market taking this in stride.
LAWRENCE KUDLOW: I mean, the human, the human toll here…
KUDLOW: …looks to be much worse than the economic toll, and we can be grateful for that, and the human toll is a tragedy, we know that. But these markets are, all these markets, right - stocks, commodities, oil, gold - there is no major breakout or breakdown.
TRISH REGAN: As the traders told us…
KUDLOW: I have to look at that positive – look at, I look at it as positive.
REGAN: …oil is very much a part of this today because oil’s moving lower. They feel as though this is good news for the U.S. economy.
From what I can tell, the first to be offended by this was Vanity Fair's Jaime Lalinde who posted "Larry Kudlow Devalues Human Life With Japan Earthquake Freudian Slip" Friday:
In these tough economic times, isn’t it nice to know that calamitous natural disasters needn't have an adverse affect on your investment portfolio? After the 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan failed to induce a market nosedive, CNBC’s Larry Kudlow expressed his relief in terms that seemed to appall even his fellow cheerleaders for capitalism.
Even as horrific scenes of devastation unfolded in the aftermath of Japan’s 8.9 earthquake and 23-foot tsunami, Kudlow found the silver lining: no markets were harmed in the making of this disaster...It must be a rule that in order to be hired by CNBC, you have to be more made of asshole than a pack of Dollar Store hot dogs.
What most of these folks missed in their disgust was that Kudlow addressed this on Twitter at 5:59 PM Friday:
I did not mean to say human toll in Japan less important than economic toll.Talking about markets.I flubbed the line. Sincere apology.
As someone that has been involved in the markets since 1980 - and with full disclosure admitting that I greatly admire Kudlow as well as having spoken with him once at a Media Research Center Gala - let me try to explain what was going on Friday.
People that work in the markets largely have a one-track mind. Everything that happens internationally has a financial or economic component.
When my wife awakened me Friday morning to tell me what had happened in Japan while we slept, I was of course as shocked and terrified as likely everyone else, although earthquakes evoke additional trepidation and anxiety in Californians - trust me.
As I turned on the television, and began seeing the coverage, a reporter on CNN commented that the Nikkei in Japan had plummeted after the quake. I naturally assumed this would bring down global markets and could lead to a major financial rout across the world.
Readers should recall what happened to international markets in the days following 9/11 before our exchanges resumed trading on September 17.
I, frankly, thought the same could happen Friday in response to this quake. Kudlow likely felt the same thing, and was probably shocked by how well the markets held up. Every trader I spoke to Friday and over the weekend was similarly so.
With this in mind, Kudlow wasn't in any way trying to diminish the seriousness of the human toll involving this natural disaster. Instead, he was expressing gratitude that it wasn't leading to a financial collapse that could exact an even greater international toll in the days and months to come.
Remember that the recession of 2008-2009 was largely caused by a global stock and bond market implosion. That downturn wouldn't have been nearly as bad as it was without the massive loss of wealth across the world associated with the bear market.
Taking this further, folks involved in the financial arena are always concerned about market events causing a recession. Without question, the bursting of the stock bubble in 2000 is what caused the downturn in 2001.
With the economy appearing to be picking up some steam, but still not out of the woods by any means, folks are very concerned about anything derailing this recovery. A stock market collapse caused by a natural disaster could easily do this.
Regardless of Friday's firmness, a crash is still possible. The Nikkei opened down over five percent Monday.
As such, being a financial analyst and commentator - as well as an eternal optimist! - Kudlow had to be sitting there Friday amazed by how well our markets responded to this calamity feeling tremendously grateful we weren't crashing on the news.
Although he may not have expressed it as well as he would have liked, having been watching Kudlow for decades, I guarantee that's what he was thinking and trying to convey Friday.
Those that are jumping on Larry are most certainly not familiar with his work or his eternal optimism for the human condition and spirit.