The Investment Scientist

The Significance of Dow 10,000

Posted on: October 15, 2009

clown“It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” – Shakespeare

Yesterday, the Dow passed 10,000 again. Predictably, the press kicked up a big storm about it.

Even a relatively unknown like me got a call from a major newspaper asking me to comment whether this was a sign that the market would keep going up. I really struggled to answer. I knew that if I could spin a good story, the reporter would come back to me for more and more comments. Pretty soon, I would look like a stock market guru to my clients and prospects. This would surely be a win-win for me and the newspaper – if only I could bring myself to pretend.

In the end, I couldn’t. I told him what I really thought.

We humans are extraordinarily capable of seeing significance where there is none. Why is the Dow at 10,000 more significant than the Dow at 9,178? Why didn’t we make a big fuss when the Dow passed 9,178? Beats me.

There is no way to predict where the Dow is headed from the observation of one day. As a matter of fact, there is no way to predict where the Dow is heading, period. Sure, I could give you some historical perspective about post-recession market performances, which have been mostly positive. But who can guarantee history will repeat itself?

The objective of the press is to spin a good story; the objective of some financial advisors is to get as much free advertising as possible. To that end, they must help spinning the story. The result is “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Don’t expect to see me quoted in that major newspaper, ever.

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1 Response to "The Significance of Dow 10,000"

I couldn’t agree more! Your candor is admirable.

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Michael Zhuang is principal of MZ Capital, a fee-only independent advisory firm based in Washington, DC.


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