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Extra12/30/2008 1:30 PM ET

The worst media calls of 2008

It takes powerful trends to push the economy into a recession and produce one of the stock market's worst years since the Great Depression. So how did these pundits and commentators get things so wrong?  

By Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine

What a year. The economy nose-dived. U.S. stocks have lost 38% of their value. And those of us who earn a living trying to peer into the future had our comeuppance.

Along with all the bad news, the panic of '08 will be remembered for a bumper crop of wrong predictions from pundits, prognosticators and analysts of all stripes.

Here are a few bloopers from a year that turned out to be a bust on many levels. See if you agree.

Larry Kudlow, economist and syndicated columnist

What he said: "With the U.S. dollar up and oil down and businesses investing, I think (the) Goldilocks (economy) is back in business." -- Aug. 28 on CNBC's "Kudlow & Company"

What happened next: Several weeks later, Lehman Bros. (LEHMQ, news, msgs) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and signed an agreement to be taken over by Barclays (BCS, news, msgs).

What he's saying now: "Who knew about Lehman, AIG (AIG, news, msgs) and the LIBOR (interbank-lending) freeze? But we will see Goldilocks again."

Worth Magazine

What the magazine said: "Emerging markets are now the global investors' (sic) safe haven of choice." -- April/May 2008

What happened next: Emerging-markets stocks shed 52% of their value in 2008, through Dec. 19.

What they're saying now: Nothing. (Worth didn't respond to our request for comment.)

Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine

What we said: Stock investors should "beat the rush to the banks." -- November 2008

What happened next: The banking industry has come to the brink of collapse over the past few months.

What we're saying now: "We grossly underestimated the risks of these companies, but at least all our picks are still in business." -- Elizabeth Ody, author of this article

Suze Orman, personal finance adviser and author

What she said: "If any of you have your money at brokerage firms in a money-market (mutual) fund that is not FDIC-insured, you better switch it out today to either a money-market account that's insured, a bank that has FDIC insurance or a money-market fund that invests in Treasurys." – Sept. 23 on "The Oprah Winfrey Show"

What happened next: The U.S. Treasury had already announced a guarantee of money-market mutual funds. Wouldn't a run on these funds help fuel a financial meltdown?

What she's saying now: "It is far better to be safe than sorry."

Jim Cramer, television personality and author

What he said: "The market will not revisit the panicked lows it hit on July 15. . . . Bye-bye, bear market. Say hello to the bull, and don't let the door hit you on the way out." -- July 30 on CNBC's "Mad Money"

What happened next: The Dow fell another 3,400 points from July 15 to its low on Nov. 20.

What he's saying now: Nothing. (Cramer didn't respond to our request for comment.)

Video on MSN Money

Sept. 29, 2008, Dow close © Brendan McDermid/Landov
Cramer calls a bottom
In October, Jim Cramer advised 'Today' viewers to pull 'whatever money you need for the next 5 years' out of the stock market. But 10 weeks earlier, the 'Mad Money' host had been confident that the bear market was dead. (July 31)

Ken Fisher, CEO of Fisher Investments

What he said: "I still think the year will end in the plus column. . . . So keep buying." -- April 21 in Forbes

What happened next: Stocks are on track in 2008 for their worst calendar year since 1937.

What he's saying now: Nothing. (Fisher didn't respond to our request for comment.)

Barron's Magazine

What the magazine said: "Home prices are about to bottom." -- July 14

What happened next: The month-to-month price decline accelerated, and the year-over-year decline is breaking new records every month.

What they're saying now: "The story pointed out that all bets would be off if the United States were to descend into a serious recession," responded a spokeswoman.

Donald Luskin, chief investment officer at Trend Macrolytics

What he said: "This bull market has been born again. . . . It's time to go in and buy junk bonds . . . it's time to buy financials." -- March 24 on CNBC's "Kudlow & Company"

What happened next: Stocks, junk and financials are off 30% or more since then.

What he's saying now: "We all make (bad calls), though we try our very best not to."

Allan Sloan, Forbes Magazine

What he said: "Lehman won't fail." -- July 7, Fortune

What happened next: The investment bank filed for bankruptcy Sept. 15.

What he's saying now: "I got it wrong."

This article was reported and written by Elizabeth Ody for Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine.

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