One day before the anniversary of 9/11, a CBS News/CBS MarketWatch poll shows many Americans fear the worst is yet to come for the stock market. Despite that, optimism abounds, as only 7% believe a drop of 17% or more is likely in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. By contrast, 32% believe the Dow will close above 9,000 this year -- a gain of 6%.
It's fun to look at numbers like these, but the real story behind the poll is the incredible level of mistrust U.S. citizens have for corporate executives. Get this: While about a quarter of respondents worry about the effects of terrorism on the markets, fully half say scandals such as the ones at Enron and WorldCom make them less likely to invest.
Think about that, all you CEOs, CFOs, analysts, and auditors out there. You have more influence on your country's investing confidence than anything terrorists can muster. Think back to the horrific events of one year ago, and you'll understand what a powerful statement this is. It's a credit to Americans that we have so much faith in our country and our economic system. Wall Street was attacked, the markets closed down, but we knew they would open again.
And yet the dirty, rotten, thieving players who lied to investors and padded their own pockets have accomplished what the terrorists only dreamed of -- undermining Americans' confidence in the markets. Shame on them.