Verse, and Worse
The Week in Review -- September 4, 1998
by Jerry Thomas (

Shall we begin with some rhyming couplets? All right then.

The Week in Review: A Poem

All my stocks are doing swell:
Yahoo, Lycos, AOL.
What's this? Asia? Ruble? Yen?
All my stocks fall back again.
Monday morning's bitter taste:
One whole year's returns erased.
Netscape tanks, Merck is toast,
Microsoft gives up the ghost.
Berkshire Bs are treading water,
Amazon is led to slaughter.
Equities, en masse, retreat
Blood is flowing in The Street
With Bears, exulting, indiscreet
At Bulls, at last, who know defeat.
Gnashing teeth, garments rending,
The world is on the brink of ending --

So how come I'm still feeling jolly?
Expressed in one word: it's the Folly.

Let's face it, people. We're doomed. This whole Human Race thing was fun while it lasted, but now that Wall Street has rendered its verdict, it's time to pack it in. Boys and girls, the Milorganite has met the whirling propeller. There is no hope. Game over. We lose.

"The economy is fundamentally sound," reports a nervous bureaucrat drenched with post-crash flop sweat. Yeah, right. And the Titanic was fundamentally leak-proof. It's time to sell stocks and buy ammo. Reduce your exposure to equities and seek out a safe haven, like maybe a shack in Montana. Head for the hills. If you're lucky, the hills have not yet had a margin call.

Or perhaps it's time to take a few deep breaths. Sputtering hyperventilation is a posture best reserved for the Wise. They are better at it; they have more practise, which is why Fools prefer slow, deep respiration. And so I take particular relish in Tuesday's Fool Portfolio Report. It's classic Dave Gardner, so go read it, because my own reading was probably my favorite moment of the week. In it, David describes his appearance on Tuesday's CBS Morning Show, where he found himself pasted by one of those panicky Wise Guys who have been all too conspicuous lately. The ironies are thick, and at a time like this, it is especially sweet to savor them.

Since we have a three-day weekend ahead of us, let's pause to put things in perspective, shall we? Where were you on February 23, 1995? That was the day the Dow Jones average first closed above 4,000. Today, less than four years later, the selfsame average is still nearly double that number, and that's one heck of an impressive return. Rather than fire and brimstone, which is all the media seems to be smelling this week, I'm seeing great good fortune all around me. Thinking from a long-term perspective will do that for you.

Still, I have to question the judgment of the Fools at HQ. Who's idea was it to let a guy who calls himself TMF Panic write a piece explaining the circuit breakers that govern trading on the New York Stock Exchange? Brian Graney, the TMF in question, does a fine job of it, but the coincidence was too striking to suit my sense of paranoia. Next thing you know, I'll be seeing pieces written TMFs Mulder and Scully. (Trust no one, Fools. The Truth is Out There.)

Anyway, a good tonic for the week's woes can be found in Tuesday's and Wednesday's Drip Portfolio reports. Jeff Fischer (TMF Jeff) ignores the distress of recent trading to examine two banks nearing a merger -- Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) and Norwest (NYSE: NOB) -- as candidates for addition the Drip holdings. You wouldn't know there'd been a panic this week reading Tom Gardner's Cash-King Report on Thursday, either. In it, Tom looks at Monopoly, the board game, as a means for understanding companies and their efforts to dominate their industries. You might also want to enjoy a cuppa joe with week's StockTalk interview. Mr. Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, will be there to serve your table.

For fun this weekend, check out our very silly Jaunting Jesters feature. This is the brainchild of Rick Munarriz (TMF Edible), so please blame him for the nonsense. I'm afraid I'm not completely innocent here either, since I contributed to this utter waste of cyberspace, along with unindicted co-conspirator Selena Maranjian (TMF Selena). Some very well-known names on Wall Street come in for a very sound joshing, so please enjoy the balderdash before we come to our senses.

Finally, as penance for indulging in the above, please visit a new site we happen to be proud of. It's, our new resource for college-age Fools. What better time to become Foolish than when you can enjoy the full benefits of decades of long-term compounding of investment returns? What better counterpoint to this week's short-term market froth, which, in the fullness of time, will only be forgotten?

Deep breaths, Fools. The long term is the strong term.

Until next week,
Fool on!


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