Crisis and Commitment
The Week in Review -- August 28, 1998
by Jerry Thomas (tmfcheeze@aol.com)

Greetings, Fools.

Turmoil overseas. Russian currency collapse. Markets in meltdown. Politicians vacillating, flailing for a coherent policy like Pee-Wee Leaguers after a greased pigskin. And Fools everywhere reaching for the snooze alarm.

Crisis? What crisis?

It isn't always easy to react to these passing storms with Foolish nonchalance. As for me, my first impulse while watching this week's plunge was to jump on a plane to Moscow, grab a native at random by the lapels, and scream, "What is with you people??" But that would never do, not for a true long-term investor, not for someone who knows that these sudden drops are inevitable, just as inevitable as the recoveries that follow them. American markets have always recovered ever since there have been American markets. Yes, sometimes the downdrafts can be trying, as we saw in the 1930s. But patience has always been rewarded. The New York Stock Exchange has been with us since the 18th century. It goes down, it goes up, but mostly, it goes up.

It is frankly monotonous the way Fools react to mayhem. Every time the stock market takes one of these inevitable dips, we trot out a series of articles pointing out that these downdrafts are nothing to worry about in the long run. If you are safely diversified in world-beating companies for the long, long term, today's turmoil will vanish in the passing of the ages. Hurricane Bonnie, devastating as she is, will soon blow herself out, and, like all storms, merge into the endless winds of time. Fools are not concerned with weather, but with climate. Storms pass from day to day, but climate endures.

Whoa, Cheeze. Bitchin' analogy.

Thursday's Fribble makes for good reading in a week such as the one we've just seen. Is this A Case for Panic? asks Tim "Foolcrum" Thompson in his piece that was written before the late market nervousness came to pass. In it Tim reminds us to reevaluate our investment positions with calm and reason. Panic does not look good on a monthly portfolio statement, and it can severely impede any plans for consistent long-term returns. For good measure, let me also recommend Monday's Fribble from Greg Panayotti, which counsels against following scaredy-cat market gooroos, even if they do happen to be married to Frank Gifford.

My job in composing these Notes is to select the best Foolish writing of the previous week, but this week that task is especially tough to do. Everywhere I look, there is something outstanding to promote: Tuesday's and Wednesday's Fool Portfolio Reports, for example, gave us some first-rate analysis of Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) from Jeff Fischer (TMF Jeff). Louis Corrigan's Fool on the Hill commentary in Wednesday's Evening News offers a blistering opinion of Ron Perelman's devastating meddling in Sunbeam (NYSE: SOC). Then there was Greg Markus's four-part Boring Portfolio Retrospective that began in Monday's Boring Portfolio Report. Each of these articles will reward close reading, but to me, the gem of the week was the Fribble from Bob Bobala (TMF Bobala), which recounted some of the events of last week's grand Fool staff meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Maybe this is one of those "you had to be there" situations. Bob's Fribble is a look at your staid Fool staff with our hair down, acting silly, and frankly intoxicated with the prospect of making The Motley Fool the finest financial resource online or off. When even lounge singers are getting the message, you know that you're making a difference in the world. It was a thrilling moment, at least for this Fool. In its own giddy way, this is a confirmation of our commitment, expressed so eloquently by "CassWoman" in Monday's Post of the Day. That Post of the Day, by the way, was read by yours truly to the entire assembly of professional Fools last Saturday night as a way to remind us how important our work is, and of the power of these new tools we have to make investing a more rewarding activity than it has ever been before.

But my work in these Notes isn't done... there is still more stuff to plug. For a great summary of Cash-King Investing -- worth bookmarking, saving to your hard drive, and printing out in dead-tree splendor, there's Tom Gardner's Wednesday Cash-King Report, which details the Seven Signs of Cash-King Success. Tuesday's Drip Report from Jeff Fischer reminds us what can happen to your dividend return after a few decades of careful DRIP investing. Then there's our new message board for Self-Employed Fools on our website, which has been a surprising success after debuting this week.

Finally, let me offer a tip of the hat to Robert Sheard (TMF Sheard) who leaves The Fool this week to pursue other passions. Thanks for doing such a remarkable job, Robert -- we'll do our best to continue the fine work you have started.

Until next week,

Cheeze

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