Friday, July 18, 2008

Putting the stock market into perspective: recent and long term trends

image The stock market has been limping along ever since 9/11, right?  We're in a serious economic recession, right?  Wrong.

I remember the huge dotcom burst in 2002-2003, because I felt it in my then-stock-rich portfolio.  At one time, I was sitting on more than $80,000 in options had I cashed in at the peak of the roller coaster.  Ouch.

I remember those days with a bit of an ache in my side, and in listening to the news and economic outlook throughout the Bush administration, I would be forgiven for thinking that we had never really recovered economically from that situation.  The stock market was hot, but it broke, and it's been limping along ever since.

As usual, listening to the media and the hubbub of coffeeshop economists leads to a radically erroneous perspective on the simple facts of how our nation is doing.  The chart above, taken from a thoughtful and comprehensive article on "how we're doing" as a nation, reveals that public perception is just plain foolish.

The stock market has been accelerating significantly in the past few years and there appears to be no end in sight.  Not even a Bear-Stearns situation can really rock the boat on the long term growth of stocks.

Is it simply too much to ask that we (1) refuse to allow media sensationalism to affect our economic outlook and (2) stop grousing about "the economic downturn" when we really have no idea what we're talking about?

Of course, I'm not going to stop complaining about the price of gas anytime soon; I don't care how much it costs in England.  (fade out, to the tune of Money for Nothing: "I want my, I want my SUV")


Anonymous said...

The media's portrayal of our economy has been based on their own bias for some time. You can go clear back to the end of the Clinton administration when we were preparing for the 2000 election. We were being told by the the media as well as democrats running for office (not the least of which was Al Gore) that the economy was the best it's been in over four decades. Things like the GDP and unemployment rates were very similar to where they are now. Interest rates were right about where they are now. The stock market was below where it is now. Personal income tax rates were higher. Yet we've had to listen to the press tell us that we are either in or are facing a recession. Since most people couldn't tell you the actual definition of a recession, they buy it. After a while this becomes something of a self-fulfilling prophesy. Face it, the press doesn't want another four years of a Republican president and they'll spin the numbers any way they want. It's their TV half-hour and they'll do what they want with it. Just remember the quote from Mark Twain, "there are three types of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics." Democrats have had control of the Senate and the House for the last two years. Perhaps Janet Jackson said it best when she asked, "what have you done for me lately?" That's right, I quoted both Mark Twain and Janet Jackson in the same paragraph. Don't act like you're not jealous.

The stock market climbed over 400 points last week. Where was it on the news around here? Nowhere. Gas prices started to drop a little. Where was that on the news? After the freaking weather and sports on Channel 8's 11:00 broadcast on Thursday. If it had been any later in the broadcast Jay Leno would have had to read the teleprompter. Stock market drops 11 points ten days ago and it's the third freaking story.

I really don't know why I let it bother me, though. God is in control.

Anonymous said...

That's right. Still can't remember my stupid blogger login. Also, apparently I still can't remember to at least identify myself half the time when I post anonymous comments.