Sunday, January 07, 2007

Critics corner: "Will This Bull Ever Retire?"

"Will This Bull Ever Retire?" That's the catchy title of the lead article on the front page of the New York Times' "Mutual Fund Report" (Jan. 7, 2007). Paul Lim's article grabbed my attention with just four words. I relish that economical use of words.

If I had my druthers, I'd shorten his lead sentence, which goes like this: "If 2006 proved anything, it’s that aging bull markets don’t have to die simply because they’re old, or that they must quietly fade away." I'd lose the phrase "
or that they must quietly fade away." That point could be made later in the article. As a reader, I can absorb a short sentence more quickly. And I don't think that second point is so critical to the story.

Some other praiseworthy aspects of this piece as a writing sample:
  1. In moderation, it's useful to use questions as the titles of your articles. Questions can grab a reader's attention.
  2. Occasional use of short sentences gives the reader a chance to breathe. They're a nice break from the long sentences that clear financial writing often demands.
    • "He's not kidding."
    • "He is in the minority."
    • "And they were rewarded handsomely for their risk taking."
  3. Quotes precede their attribution, except when immediately following a quote by a different person. As in the quotes below.

“Right now, there’s still too much money chasing too few financial assets,” said Stuart A. Schweitzer, global markets strategist at J. P. Morgan Asset and Wealth Management.

James W. Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management in Minneapolis, agreed. “This is the only time in postwar history where a recovery has taken place without any rise in long-term borrowing costs,” he said.



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