Friday, October 24, 2008

It’s All About Perspective

While everyone watching the markets sweating that the Dow has fallen off, if not forever, then for a long time, from the 10,000 + mark, it might be a good time to look back at where the Dow has been over the decades.

For a complete, informative and detailed look, go to, for instance:

“Dow 1000: Finally in '72”

“Cheers rang out on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange when the Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed the 1000 mark on Nov. 14, 1972.
If ever there was a psychological barrier for the Dow industrials, 'Dow 1000' was it. The average had knocked on the door of 1000 repeatedly for six years, but could never close above that 'magic' level.
For example, the industrials closed at 995.15 on Feb. 9, 1966, and at 985.21 on Dec. 3, 1968. There were also close calls in May 1969. But no cigar -- until the euphoria of 1972.
Many investors active today will remember 1972. Richard Nixon was president, ''The Godfather'' was packing them in at the movies, and Americans were tuned to ''All in the Family'' on television. The Watergate scandal, which later destroyed the Nixon administration, was only a cloud on the horizon. The Vietnam War was a major problem, but on the day the 1000 barrier fell, North Vietnam had agreed that its representative would meet with U.S. negotiator Henry Kissinger for a new round of talks aimed at ending the war.
The re-election of Mr. Nixon over George McGovern had occurred a week earlier. And the economy was doing well. Economic growth was unusually strong, inflation was moderate and interest rates were low.
In the stock market, it was the heyday of the 'Nifty Fifty,' stocks that were so popular that it was said they were ''one decision'' stocks: Buy them, and never worry about selling. Among the most popular stocks of the day were Xerox, Avon, IBM and McDonald's.
Not long after the industrial average punctured the 1000 mark, a recession occurred and the brutal bear market of 1973-74 set in, pushing the average all the way down to 577.60 in December 1974. It would be late 1982 -- a full decade after the 1000 milestone was first passed-- before the industrials rose above 1000 to stay.”

For a look at the next decade click on:

“ was only a little more than 12 years before, on Jan. 8, 1987, that the average first hit 2000.
You remember 1987. Michael Douglas starred that year in the movie ''Wall Street,'' portraying the greedy Gordon Gekko.
But the real fireworks in 1987 took place on the real Wall Street. The industrial average started the year at 1895.95, then staged one of the most impressive advances in history, surging nearly 44%, and peaking at 2722.42 on Aug. 25. In the fall it turned around and suffered one of the biggest declines on record, dropping nearly 1,000 points in two months. The selling cresendo peaked on Oct. 19, with a 508-point, nearly 23%, crash, the worst one-day drop ever.
When the Dow industrials surpassed the 2000 mark, almost no one foresaw the pyrotechnics to come. The prevailing feeling was that, having climbed to 2000, the average would need to rest for a while.
Alfred Goldman of A.G. Edwards & Sons in St. Louis predicted 'a victory celebration and then a headache.' New York money manager Robert Stovall predicted a 'groundhog day' effect in which the market would ''see its shadow, and promptly duck down again.'' Mary Farrell of PaineWebber predicted a trading-range market hovering between 1800 and 2200.
Nor did many people guess at the time that seven additional millenary milestones would fall in little more than a decade. After all, it had taken the industrial average about 76 years to reach 1000, in 1973. Then it took nearly 14 years for the average to climb to 2000.
Of course, it's easier and easier to hit each 1,000-point milestone, because each point gain becomes smaller on a percentage basis as the index rises.
'I'm excited. This is history,' exclaimed trader Jack Baker, then with Shearson Lehman Brothers in New York, the day the 2000 barrier was snapped. 'I caught 1000 and 2000 and I hope to live long enough to catch 3000.'' Mr. Baker captured the prevailing mood. But though hardly a soul suspected it at the time, the 3000 mark was only four years away.' "

“How Long it Took"

"When the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached each of eleven 1,000-point milestones"
[from the Dow Jones site: ]

1,000 Nov. 14, 1972 76 years
2,000 Jan. 8, 1987 14 years
3,000 April 17, 1991 4 years
4,000 Feb. 23, 1995 4 years
5,000 Nov. 21, 1995 9 months
6,000 Oct. 14, 1996 11 months
7,000 Feb. 13, 1997 4 months
8,000 Jul. 16, 1997 5 months
9,000 Apr. 6, 1998 9 months
10,000 Mar. 29, 1999 12 months
11,000 May. 3, 1999 1 month

All of this and more very helpful information can be found on the Dow Jones site. Learning about the history of the Dow and the history of the markets can only help put it all into perspective. With money and investing, it is always wise to know what has worked in the past and why and if what worked in the past will hold true for today, given the massive changes brought on by instant access to virtually any and all information.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A View of U.S. Politics from Ireland

A citizen of Ireland who works in ISP network support, says of the U.S.: "I love the place! I've worked for one American company or another most of my life. If I were to choose a word I've read on American news sites to describe my political views it would probably be 'liberal'

What do you have to say about the coverage of Senator McCain's speech at the Republican convention:
"In general the press [in Ireland] was positive about the speech but much was made of his choice for VP. It seemed as if she was chosen more for political reasons than to provide the best possible candidate for the job, specifically to cater to the evangelical voters. However, following her treatment at the hands of various bloggers and liberal sites coverage turned far more sympathetic towards her (mention was made of the treatment of her daughter by the press and a claim that one of her children with Down's Syndrome wasn't really her child)."
He adds that Fox, CNN, MSNBC and CNBC as well as Sky News, BBC News and Euronews and the news on the main 3 channels in Ireland are there for the viewing so there's always something on about the election.

What about a woman for VP?
"The male/female question is barely discussed on the news except for how it affects voters in the U.S. Ireland has had it's current female president, Mary McAleese, since 1997, and before her was another female president (Mary Robinson). Both had done exceptionally well in the job and brought more attention to an office that used to be considered quite unimportant. Although we have yet to have a female Taoiseach, I don't think it'll be long before that happens either. The race issue is also only discussed as it affects the tactics in the election and how it's 'playing out' in the U.S."

What’s the general consensus about the possible outcome?
"It is that if it's Obama there's a good chance the U.S. will pull through the current recession with more of a chance than with McCain at the wheel. With Russia becoming more active again there's a good chance that Iran could become a flashpoint during the next term (if not before the end of President Bush's term), especially if Tehran goes ahead and dumps the petro-dollar in favour of the petro-euro or worse, the petro-rubel. Most sources I read or watch agree that Obama has the temperament and ideas to work with other nations and lead instead of the unilateral action or the 'you're with us or against us' rhetoric that only alienates allies and makes enemies rub their hands in glee."

And McCain?
"The feeling is that Senator McCain is just another George W. Bush in waiting and I can't stress how unpopular President Bush is in Ireland at the moment over the war in Iraq and our own government's complicity in rendition flights through Shannon Airport from 2003-2006."

What is the most important issue that concerns the people in Ireland?
"Right now the foreign-policy issues concerning most people here are a resurgent Russia and the EU's energy dependency on it and the recently-rejected Lisbon treaty. The feeling is that we need a strong America, showing sound leadership for the first, and more democracy in the workings of the EU for the second. "

A good place to get a feel for Irish views on the election would be their national broadcaster's website (
Here are two other helpful links: