On the role of the economic and financial press in Africa

The economic and financial press provides financial information at the base of the anticipation decisions of economic agents. This is the final conclusion to remember from the Economic and Financial Press Forum which just took place on March 25 and 26, 2021 in Abidjan. Organized by Michel Russel Lohore, Journalist, Member of the Club de la Presse de Lille (France), Winner of the 2019 National Award of Excellence for the Development of Communication in Côte d’Ivoire, this mass focused on the role of the information in the structuring of an economy or a market.

The law is the same for the West as it is for Africa. Any well-organized financial center, characterized by a perpetual anticipation of economic agents, tends towards an equilibrium price, determined by the permanent relationship between supply and demand, pessimism and optimism, risk and return and, in a word, the value of the future brought back to the present, to today, at the very hour when these modest lines are brought to the delicate attention of the reader.

The rating of a country, that is to say the degree of risk that a holder of the debt of that country runs, is largely based on the information collected by the rating agencies from a large number of players including media. The price of cocoa at time T is the dynamic synthesis between the expectations of buyers and sellers, harvest forecasts, purchases by manufacturers … You have to buy when the occurrence is uncertain and sell when the information is verified. Hence our adage, “buy rumor, sell information”.

The price of a security listed on the Abidjan or Casablanca Stock Exchange is the ratio of several pieces of information: first there are the scraps and rumors about the intrinsic value of a company, which we will look for in its balance sheet. (which has the disadvantage of relating to the past), in its financial communication delivered to the market according to a legal calendar and in the continuous information relayed by the newspapers. There is also the psychology of the market which acts rationally according to the information or rumor received, by speculating. To these elements are added pricing algorithms which, if they do not take sufficient account of the volumes, are open doors to all price manipulation.

The financial and economic press, which must relay these different parameters while remaining competitive because carried by companies, participates in the democratization of information disseminated to the entire market without discrimination, by reducing the asymmetry between issuers and investors but also between managers and shareholders. The real value of an asset, based on the promise of future flows, is constantly subject to the fears and rational expectations of owners and creditors who constantly assess its current level of risk on the basis of the information received.

But, it cannot be said enough, although not a commodity like any other, information comes at a cost. Press companies have a public service mission and responsibility while being carried by a legal person, shareholders, etc. In the same way as rating agencies and auditors, the issue of conflict of interest is recurrent in the media, the line between marketing and editorial departments not always being hermetic, the trap of subjectivity always being able to catch up. any editor. The guarantee is based on professionalism and the processing of information according to the principles of cross-checking and verification. If neutrality is an illusion, that objectivity remains the dividing line for defining journalistic information. The role of the economic and financial press is to provide information while refraining from making recommendations for buying or selling, a field of financial analysis approved or recognized as such by the market.

Clearly, the market is a meeting place between several interests. Starting with the shareholder who is entitled to information and to receive future income. Listed companies having good financial communication through the channels provided will lead to a correct valuation of their values ​​by the market, otherwise rumor takes care of it. Likewise, African states (which continue to outsource their communication policies entrusted to European or American agencies invoiced in euros and dollars) have an interest in explaining their economic policies, their fiscal measures, their inflation objectives and their monetary policies in order to to give maximum visibility to investors, financial technical partners and observers. As for journalists, while providing fair and true information on objective bases, they must constantly keep in mind

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