The first totally honest stock market story
By Vinnie Foster Wynans III
Wall Street Journal reporter
The market rallied early this morning for reasons no one understood and no one predicted. CNBC analysts confidently claimed it had something to do with Senegal’s money supply, but others pointed to revised monthly figures showing poor tuna shipping off the Peruvian coast.
The Dow declined late morning due to profit taking – a meaningless phrase we financial reporters use when we don’t know what we’re talking about.
Around noon, tech stocks rallied (perhaps on earnings?) before a late wave of selling drove the stock lower. (This selling wave was miraculously met by a buying wave since in every transaction there is a buyer and a seller.)
All in all, it was a normal day on Wall Street. The advances led to 4-1 declines, the bond market was incomprehensibly boring, the Mets beat the Phillies 6-2, and Kate Winslet’s metrics remained 35-29-38.
For most of this story, as with most stories in financial services, I will quote a series of famous braggarts, all of whom predicted that this bull market would hit 7500.
“Some of the young dollars think the markets are just going up, not down,” said Seymour Kaufman of Dean-Witter-Marcus-Garvey. They have been misled by the experience of the past 17 years.
“Of course, I missed the last 6,000 points of the rally,” says Sherman McCoy of First Swiss-Credit Boston, which shifted its assets to gold last spring, “but when the correction comes, my position will be pretty good.”
“I thought the market was overvalued at 8000,” says Chris Clough of Travelers-Citicorp-Disney-American-Express-Baskin-Robbins-Lynch & Jenrette. “Now that PE ratios are 67 times higher, my argument is more intellectually coherent than ever.”
We journalists put these quotes in our stories to prove that we’re wise old heads (even though we’re 25-year-olds fresh off the news desk), but if you listen to any of those old goats, you’re crazy. In fact, if you’ve read that far into the story, you’re that crazy.
Professional traders will know all about yesterday’s markets from their computer terminals, and they shouldn’t need a $37,000-a-year reporter to do it for them. Normal investors should not read day-to-day market reports, as this will only cause them to shuffle their accounts.
Elaine Garzarelli has to be mentioned in every market story, so this is the paragraph I do it in. Past performance is not indicative of future results,” said Ms. Garzarelli wisely.
To fill out the rest of my space so I can get home, I’m now going to add some business results, which you could read on the most active table if you were really interested. Microsoft was up 1/4. Dell was down 1/8. Motorola was down 2. Hi mom. Exxon was up 3 1/8. If anyone would like a lightly used Exercycle, please call (212) 555-2000. Ford was up 1/2. Germany invades Belgium. I see England, I see France, I see someone’s underwear. Bloomberg was 2 1/2 behind.
Belated news flash: The Clinton administration has signed a new incentive package with the American people that allows the president to sexually assault a flight attendant every time the Dow Jones breaks another 1000 barrier.
Notes BR: I talked about it in Aprilwith all credit to Jason Zweig for preserving this wonderful gem. Bobs News traced the original via the Internet Archive to The Weekly Standard, Volume 3, Number 31 (April 20, 1998). The full text is included above. You can access the PDF of this issue here: Weekly Standard 4.20.1998.
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