This hasn't exactly been a slow month, has it? Amid everything else -- the NCAA basketball tournament, the Oscars, bookgrrl winning the Fool's Feste Award -- the war in Iraq finally started. The effect on the markets was extreme, with the S&P 500 rising 11% in a few short days.
Why did this happen? To find out, I embedded myself with the 101st New York Stock Exchange Division and interviewed traders, brokers, analysts, money managers, janitors, and Maria Bartiromo's hair stylist. I came up with a single, universal, coherent answer: No one has any earthly idea. The best explanation came from the Al-Jazeera journalists, who told me, "Some days, the market goes up. Some days, it goes down." The exchange then revoked their credentials.
Like their NYSE counterparts, members of the U.S. Congress were also concentrating on vital matters of national importance. Reps. Bob Ney and Walter Jones, upset that France refused to back U.S. war efforts, were able to stay focused enough through all the chatter about budgets and homeland security to order the removal of "french fries" from all restaurant menus in the House, to be replaced with "freedom fries." In retaliation, France sent a battleship to reclaim the Statue of Liberty, but the crew surrendered to a hot-dog vendor near the entrance.
Meanwhile, outfits like Viacom-owned
There was, of course, plenty of non-war-related news in March. Unfortunately, most of it involved corporate corruption. Ex-Tyco
But wait, there's more. The SEC may charge AOL with "aiding and abetting" revenue-reporting fraud at other companies like Homestore
In non-corruption news, coffee king Starbucks
Word leaked out this month that TV star Don Johnson was detained after crossing from Germany into Switzerland with a briefcase containing stocks, bonds, and credit notes totaling $8 billion. Johnson told authorities he needed the funds to buy a round of drinks at Starbucks and was released.
On the lighter side, Fool reader Brian Dear came up with a new stock analysis system based on Amazon.com's
I looked at the Purchase Circles myself, and found that the top two uniquely popular books at women's media company iVillage
No. 1 on Microsoft's
I conducted a secret poll of Kenneth Lay, Jeffrey Skilling, Dennis Kozlowski, and Samuel Waksal. Their top book, by far, is First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently. (OK, so I made that one up.)
Here's the rest of the month, in a nutshell:
- Greenspan: Housing Will Cool
- eBay Trims Half
- Big Mac, Side of Email
- P&G's Hairy Deal
- Krispy Kreme's Soggy Q4
- Mutual Fund Costs Climb
Rex Moore is taking Groundskeeper Willie over Ralph Wiggum in Marge Madness... but can either dethrone Apu? At press time, he owned shares of Microsoft, eBay, and Procter & Gamble. His profile is always here, unless the Internet breaks. The Fool has a disclosure policy.