Boughs of Folly

by Jerry Thomas (TMF Cheeze)
December 23, 1999

The Markets -- December 23, 1999
  12/17 Close 12/23 Close Change %Change
DJIA 11,257.43 11,405.76 +148.33 +1.32
S&P 500 1,421.03 1,458.35 +37.32 +2.63
Nasdaq 3,753.13 3,969.44 +216.31 +5.76

This Week's Top News Stories

Seasons Greetings, Fools.

Call this your Christmas greeting card from The Motley Fool. No, don't shake it to see if there's a dollar bill inside from Grandma. The reward comes after you hang around the website for a while and play with all the Foolishness that's offered there, sort of like the toys under your Christmas tree. The difference is that Folly is there all year 'round, and you can open it whenever you feel like it, in your browser window.

So which package do you want to open first?

You might want to grab the box marked "Do Not Open Until Y2K." Inside is the year-ending report from Yi-Hsin Chang (TMF Puck) on the blas� way people are greeting the arrival of the dreaded Millennium Bug -- which, depending on whom you consult, is either going to leave the world in flames, or leave us all reaching for the snooze alarm. Yi-Hsin expects the latter will be the more likely scenario, and that's why her report is entitled, Not Much Ado about Nothing. "You know Y2K is no big deal when the made-for-TV movie bombs," she writes, which pretty much sums up the way most people seem to feel about it. So much for mass hysteria. Me, I'll be hiding under the bed, but don't read anything into that. I start out every new year that way.

I suspect that the more industrious among you will be spending your time not fretting over the bogeyman who most likely will not come, but seizing the lessons that can be learned from the year just passed. Those Fools will be turning to our 1999 Year-End Review. Good choice, Maynard, 'cause this thing is loaded. I mean, you've got Jeff Fischer (TMF Jeff) looking at the year in broadband, one of the most exciting industries to emerge in the last 12 months. Then Brian Graney (TMF Panic) takes the wireless industry under similar consideration. You also get complete coverage of the year's biggest stock winners, the most dismal of its losers, and the last word on a year that completely rewrote the rules on initial public offerings -- IPOs. There are more goodies than that under this particular tree, and I'll let you click over to unwrap them yourself. After all, I don't want to spoil anybody's surprise.

Follow that with a trip to our Holidays at the Fool page -- with its online shopping guide, its year-end tax planning tips, and lots more, and you'll really feel like your stocking is overflowing.

This year has been surprisingly successful in the stock markets, and it is only the latest in a whole series of impressive annual returns. Did I say impressive? Let me amend that to say unprecedented. The 1990s have easily been the greatest decade for investors this entire century. If you are at all sharing in this bounty, remember how important the spirit of generosity is in making the world a livable place. It's the lesson that Ebeneezer Scrooge learned after three ghostly visitors challenged his miserly habits, and it's a lesson, too, that Fools are learning as they pause to consider the gifts they have received in the good fortune of these very abundant times. They're sharing that good fortune by participating in our annual Foolanthropy Charity Drive, which is on course to smash all the records we've set in our two previous years combined. Better yet, some generous Fools have offered to match your contribution if you contribute by December 27th, so please step forward quickly to make your contribution.

Two remarkable Fribbles underscored the spirit of this generosity: The first came Wednesday, from Andy Erickson, who is convinced that he is the luckiest man alive -- in part, I'm sure, because somehow while providing for his family he manages to contribute to charity a larger percentage of his income than most people ever manage to save for themselves. How can you not feel lucky when your life is so bountiful that you can give so much? The second Fribble is Thursday's from contributor Dennis Petroskey, who explains how walking away from a prestigious and well-paying job can be a greater gift than anything tangible you can name. Apt Christmas reading, Fool.

In Monday's Retiree Portfolios, David Braze (TMF Pixy) explains the sometimes complicated calculation you need to use should you be wondering whether to convert your accounts into a Roth IRA. In Wednesday's Fool on the Hill, Selena Maranjian (TMF Selena) tells the remarkable story of Grameen Bank, which just happens to be one of our Foolanthropy charities this year (see above). And this week's Notes from a Fool concludes with yours truly wishing you and yours the happiest of holiday seasons.

Merry Christmas, Fools.


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