Though I suspect that between NPR news and Marketplace, plus some newspaper columns by the Motley Fool and our NPR station's Saturday line up of news humor shows, I do better than most.
So I was amused to discover that Wall Street just pooped a nice Christmas present on itself, with the Dow closing above 18,000 for the first time.
18,024.17 to be exact.
Googling "dow jones" provided the following screenshot:
Wikipedia has updated its entry on the DJIA:
On May 3, 2013, the Dow surpassed the 15,000 mark for the first time, while later on November 18, it closed above the 16,000 level. Following a strong jobs report on July 3, 2014, the Dow traded above the 17,000 mark for the first time. On 23 December 2014 the Dow Jones industrial average traded above 18,000 for the first time after data showed the U.S. economy posted its strongest growth in more than a decade.Okay, reality check. Yes, I know that the Dow Jones Industrial Average is NOT the stock market, it isn't very industrial any more, it's an indexed average of a changing basket of stocks and it isn't the only index on Wall Street.
But it's famous. People quote it. It's important in that sense.
Okay, this is where it gets weird. Because just last Thursday we were talking to our financial guy, and I asked, was the Dow still over 16,000? And back on the Fourth of July I wrote:
Huh.I told you I didn't follow the stock market closely.
Just yesterday morning we were talking to our financial guy, and he made a comment about the Dow. And I pointed out I haven't been following it in a while -- was it still over 16,000?
Well, NPR just reported that yesterday's pre-holiday session had the Dow Jones Industrial Average exceed 17,000 for the first time.
Following that pre-holiday theme, we had the week before Thanksgiving 2013:
So on Thursday I posted the following observation on Facebook:I missed the May 2013 breaking the 15,000 barrier, probably because I was in the hospital, having just got out of the ICU.
4pm news lead stories: CNBC -- DJIA closes above 16,000 for first time. MSNBC -- the nuclear option in the Senate. FOX News -- McDonald's drops McRib from nation menu, many protest, is Michelle Obama to blame?
Well, you can't say all the news is the same... Dr. Phil
A little over four years ago I noted when "the stock market", i.e. the Dow Jones Industrial Average, broke 10,000+ (DW) for the first time in the recession. At the time I wrote:
Wednesday (14 October 2009) the NYSE surged above 10,000 again and stayed there. Happy days are here again. The Recession's back has been broken. We are on the path to recovery. Well, aren't we?
To some extent, I think the same sarcasm is due.
Yay. We're above 18,000. The Dow has jumped 3000 points just since I've been dealing with my heel.
But, as the Dow grows, a 1000 point gain ain't what it used to be. I was in junior high in White Plains NY, just north of New York City when it first topped 1000 points total. It's a matter of diminishing percentages, those thousand point records.
One of the reasons that I am not greatly excited about this, even as I note the historical value, is that it's a game. Sure, business needs investment money. And the value of a stock gives a gauge as to the health and wealth of a company. But past that... Most of the money made on Wall Street is a masturbatory fantasy game that Wall Street does to make Wall Street money. And an avenue for outsiders to come in and "invest" in a company by buying it up and changing that which had given it value in the first place. Chasing the tail of stock prices has fueled most of this raging drive towards short term gain at the expense of long term legacy and long term employment.
It has changed America in so many ways, and not all of them positive. For good or ill, many of our pensions are still tied into this game. And in the long term, it's a money maker. Mostly. But we don't retire in the long term, we're each on different countdown clocks. A lot of people were hurt when Wall Street screwed up the last time. And they're in the process of trying to get some of the controls enacted after that meltdown removed. Because these practices worked so well the last time.
So whoopee, here I am twirling a finger in the air.
It's just another big deal in a string of big deals.
And yet... I'm sure happier having a surging Wall Street than another market crash. If only some of this optimism and profits would actually trickle down far enough to do some good.