The Week in Review -- December 24, 1998

The Markets

  12/18 Close 12/24 Close Change %Change
DJIA 8903.63 9217.99 +314.36 +3.53%
S&P 500 1188.03 1226.27 +38.24 +3.22%
Nasdaq 2086.14 2163.03 +76.89 +3.69%

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Chestnuts, Jack Frost, and So On
by Jerry Thomas (

Merry Christmas, Fools.

First of all, be warned that there are some very cynical people out there who will try to convince you that Christmas is about love and peace and universal understanding. Don't fall for it. Christmas, as any outer space alien monitoring our television broadcasts surely knows, is really about something called a "Furby." I've never seen a Furby up close, but as near as I can tell, it's a wad of fake hair with a plastic face attached to it. (The face looks suspiciously like my Uncle Ned, but I honestly don't think he had anything to do with it.) People are lining up around the block to get one, making it the smash hit toy of the holiday season.

Unfortunately, the Furby is a wily beast, cunning in its ways, and is only rarely found in captivity. This means that desperate people are being forced to settle for that old-fashioned "goodwill toward men" hooey that people thought was the true meaning of Christmas back in the dim ages before mass marketing was invented. Our own David Wolpe (TMF Dbunk) is among the fallen. You can find David in our Christmas special looking for Foolish virtue in Frank Capra's classic holiday film It's a Wonderful Life. Reading David's piece, you will discover that there is a great deal in Foolishness that resonates with traditional holiday values -- stuff like building strong communities and giving to people in need. Speaking of giving to people in need, have you contributed to the Fool Charity Fund yet?

So consider John Tesh. John Tesh is instantly recognizable as a world-famous musician, the star of several record-breaking PBS television specials, and former co-host of TV's Entertainment Tonight. A Furby, on the other hand, is instantly recognizable as a wad of fake hair with a plastic face attached to it. Well, Mr. Tesh, it may surprise you to know, has gone Foolish. His lush baritone recently recited the festive holiday verses of "A Wise Day on Wall Street" on the Motley Fool Radio Show." You can hear Mr. Tesh's recital online or simply read the full poem.

If that isn't enough Foolishness for you this holiday weekend, there's The Motley Fool's Year in Review. We showed you Part One last week. This week we give you parts Two, Three, and Four. Part Two tells the story of this year's hot Internet Stock sector. Part Three gives you the lowdown -- way down -- on some of the worst performing stocks of the year. And Part Four offers some helpful hints on how to hang shelves in your den. Whoops, that's wrong -- Part Four actually offers the 1998 Timeline, a quarter-by-quarter look at some of the most noteworthy events of the year. Sorry for the error. Boy is my face red!

The market this week enjoyed what the pundits are pleased to call a "Santa Claus" rally, which strikes me as a complete non sequitur, considering that Mr. Claus is not known to hold a position in any publicly traded equity. I half expected St. Nick to appear on one of those cable financial channels, in an interview that would have gone something like this:

HOST: Santa, what's your outlook for interest rates?

SANTA: Ho ho ho!

HOST: Then can we expect the rally in tech stocks to continue?

SANTA: Have you been a good boy this year?

HOST: Santa Claus, ladies and gentlemen. Next up, the crisis in Asia.

All things considered, you might be best off relying on The Fool for your financial news. You get three squares a day, Breakfast, Lunch, and Evening, and unlike cable television, you don't have to watch a guy with a bad hair transplant reading it to you. Cool, hey?

Christmas falls on a Friday this year, which makes for a nice three-day weekend. We hope that you and yours will have a splendid holiday, with Furby or without. Round out your online reading with a Fribble from reader David Berg-Seiter. It's a Foolish retelling of O. Henry's "Gift of the Magi," right in keeping with the season.

Finally, please remember, if you're still shopping for a Furby, please take care. Poor Uncle Ned has already been tossed into more than one shopping cart this holiday season. It's an easy mistake to make.

Until next week,
Fool on!


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