In One Year and Out the Other

by Jerry Thomas (TMF Cheeze)
December 31, 1999

Greetings, Fools.

You can stick a fork in the fat lady, Fools, because this year is finished. Get out a big red marker and cross "The Nineteen Hundreds" off your "To Do" list. Pop the champagne, spray the silly string, sing Auld Lang Syne, and kiss 1999 good-bye. Then really celebrate by looking at our Year in Review one last time before it falls into the pages of history. You'll read about the year's biggest stock market winners and losers, learn about the year's hottest IPOs, and get a roundup of what's been happening in the wireless and broadband industries. It's a great way to start the next 100 years of your investing life.

As I write these words, I am still trembling on the more ancient side of the epochal shift -- that is to say, still in 1999 -- knowing that many of you may not be reading this until tomorrow, that other age, the millennium beyond, where everyone is pals with the Jetsons and the planet is ruled by apes. In fact, some of you who are living in the Eastern Hemisphere are already there, enjoying that more advanced and enlightened age while primitives like me sit waiting expectantly for this grand cultural odometer to flip over to 2000. Will the Y2K bug really be the disaster some predict? Will sinister sci-fi terrors reach from beyond some dark future and do us all in? Will the Crack of Doom be all it's cracked up to be?

The Markets -- December 31, 1999
  12/23 Close 12/31 Close Change %Change
DJIA 11,405.76 11,497.12 +91.36 + 0.80
S&P 500 1,458.11 1,469.25 +11.14 +0.76
Nasdaq 3,969.44 4,069.29 +99.85 +2.52

You already know. As for me, each tick of the clock will move me closer to the brink of 2000, and all I can do is prepare. Jeff Fischer (TMF Jeff) helps a lot in Wednesday's Drip Portfolio report. "Things to Adhere to in 2000" is the title he chose, and it's a good thing he wrote it and not I, for had the assignment been placed in my hands the list would run something like:

  1. Scotch tape
  2. Vinyl furniture
  3. Movie theater floors
  4. Velcro...
... and so on. But no! Luckily Jeff has a more instructive design. His suggestions amount to a list of New Year's resolutions for the savvy Fool, and if you follow his advice you will be managing your finances well in the years to come. That's good planning. All of us, I expect, hope to retire some time in the next century, which means that a few minutes spent with David Braze (TMF Pixy) and his Retirement Portfolios will be time well spent. This week David looks into the subtle differences between taxed and tax-deferred accounts, and which fund you should draw on first to make the most efficient use of your resources. In that same vein, you'll also want to check out this week's Dueling Fools, featuring Chris Rugaber (TMF RFK) and Robert Brokamp (TMF Bro) debating the viability of Social Security as we stand on the cusp of the new millennium.

This Week's Top News Stories

What? You're among those who insist that the next millennium doesn't start until next year, eh? Well, get your nose out of that ephemeris, Beauregard, and look at that brand new calendar in front of you. See that shriveled little "1999" in the corner? Pathetic, isn't it? Now cast your eye toward that giant red "2000" there in bold print at the top of the page, with all those big, round, ripe zeroes in it. What difference does one year make when you're looking at a whole two thousand? Go, cut loose, celebrate the millennium right now, and even if you are off by a year, your timing will be accurate to within five-hundredths of one percent. Why, that's a high standard of precision where I come from. Then again, I'm the sort of guy who will spend three hours trying to change the batteries in a self-winding watch. At least, that's my plan for this evening.

Meanwhile, it's exciting for us in Fooldom to cap off the year with a real success. I'm referring to our Foolanthropy Charity Drive, which, as I write this, is on the brink of passing the half-million-dollar threshold in total contributions. It's gratifying to hear about the generosity of the members of our Community, and please know that it's never too late to give. Selena Maranjian (TMF Selena), who has been working diligently to promote Foolanthropy, contributes two Fribbles this week, Monday's and Tuesday's. One says "Don't Donate," the other says, "Do," but somehow Selena manages to persuade you to reach for your checkbook each time. Selena also brings us Tuesday's Rule Breaker report, which is a classic excursion through the many holidays and observances that mark this season.

For some thoughtful musings as we close out the investing year, turn to Bill Barker's (TMF Max) Thursday Fool on the Hill, "The End of History? Bring it on." This is probably my favorite piece of the week, as Bill considers just how far we've come in the course of human history, and what implications such lessons might have for the stock market in the years to come. In Tuesday's Fool on the Hill, Warren Gump (TMF Gump) gives us his analysis of the underperforming restaurant industry, with some good ideas to follow up on in your own research.

Well, it looks like I'm writing my last official sentences of 1999. I'll use them to wish all of you a very Foolish New Year, and to encourage Fools everywhere to spend the year 2000 laughing, learning, and investing well.

Until next year,

Fool on!


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