WASHINGTON, August 22, 2015 – The Wall Street Journal headline screamed at me from my laptop:
U.S. Stock Plunge Picks Up Speed
The subhead was even worse:
Ugly week ends with worst day for the Dow and other indexes in years.
The New York Times also used the dreaded P-word in its own ominous headline:
Stocks Plunge Sharply for a Second Day on Wall Street
The article attached to this fear-mongering headline regales us with the sobering details:
“[Various] concerns on Friday helped push stocks far below the peaks they reached just weeks ago when investors were ebullient. The Dow Jones industrial average is more than 10 percent below the high it reached in May. At Friday’s close, the index was down 530.94 points, to 16,459.75, a loss of 3.1 percent on the day.”
CNBC did not help matters any by piling on with their equally frightening headline:
Dow, Nasdaq plunge 3% into correction
Okay. I get it. The stock market is all screwed up. Again.
But will somebody please tell me just exactly what the hell is the Dow Jones industrial average, anyway? Or the Nasdaq? I’ve been hearing about them ever since I was a child swaddled in Huggies, and nobody has ever taken the trouble to tell me what this stuff actually is. Or why I should even care about it.
It’s like Mark Twain’s old adage about the weather: Everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything to explain it.
Naturally enough, I Googled the Dow Jones, and this is what I got:
“The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted average of 30 significant stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq. The DJIA was invented by Charles Dow back in 1896.”
Clear as sludge.
But I will admit I did find out what Nasdaq means: National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations.
My pappy done told me to never trust an acronym with more than three letters in it.
I get the feeling that “Dow Jones” and “Nasdaq” are not meant to be understood by the layman; they are meant to overawe us, like a magician sawing a woman in half. The wizards of Wall Street can make money disappear like Houdini, that’s for sure. We seemed to have plenty of evidence of that during the past trading week during which those aforementioned averages apparently took an epic thumping.
The whole schmegegge is moot for me anyways, since I sold the last of my stock holdings years ago and invested in an anchovy farm, which succeeded in making me independently destitute.
My comments, in conclusion:
When Nasdaq drops and Dow Jones dips
I know I’ll not be in the chips.
My broker won’t return my calls:
He’s moved his office to Sioux Falls.
Take my advice when you invest,
and learn to suck on lemon zest.