The Wall Street Journal headline screamed at me from my laptop: U.S. Stock Plunge Picks Up Speed!
The subheading 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 ominous headline: Stocks Plunge Sharply for a Second Day on Wall Street.
The article attached to this fear-mongering headline gives us the somber details: “Such 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 does not help matters any with their 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? Or Nasdaq? I’ve been hearing about them ever since I was a child in Huggies, and nobody has ever taken the trouble to tell me what this stuff is. Or why I should 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 have 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 sawing a woman in half. The wizards of Wall Street can make money disappear like Houdini, that’s for sure.
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 — making me independently destitute.
When Nasdaq droops and Dow Jones dips
I know I’ll not be in the chips.
My broker won’t return my calls
and moves his office to Sioux Falls.
Take my advice when you invest,
and learn to live on lemon zest.