August 11th, 2011
05:41 PM ET

Letters to the President: #934 'The market of fear'

Reporter's Note: Presidents have spoken from time to time about the danger of excessive fear. So have I.

Dear Mr. President,

Is it just me, or is the stock market acting like some kind of insane cousin who calls every other day with a different get rich quick scheme? It’s up. It’s down. It’s sideways. Seems like every 24 hours I hear another analyst trying to explain why the market is doing what it is doing, and nothing seems to make any sense.

Personally, I think that is the fundamental problem: The market itself is not making sense. Way too many people are trying to be way too clever, convinced that somehow they can magically spin the tumblers into the perfect combination to unlock a flood of 1990’s style riches once again. In the process, they are creating havoc by acting…well, kind of goofy.

One day they are throwing perfectly sound stocks overboard as if they are on fire. The next, they are scouring the ashes to buy, buy, buy. And none of it has much to do with what is actually happening in the world as we know it. Wall Street is not making these moves based on jobs, or productivity, or new inventions, or even good information.

Sure, we get reports every few days indicating that the economy is slightly weaker or stronger than we thought, but the simple truth is, everyone has known for some time that it is struggling. Such incremental updates should not be producing economic earthquakes. Tremors, yes. But quakes, no.

As too many headlines have noted, the driving force is no longer common sense (even of the rarified, Wall Street kind,) but rather pure and simple fear. That is not good for any market.

What can you do about it? I’m not sure. Somehow people need to not only hear calm voices, but also see calm, steady hands on the wheel.

Hey, I just had an idea: What a perfect time for you and I to have a barbeque! Imagine the calming effect this would have. People all jittery, ready to panic; suddenly they look up and say, “Oh look, Tom and the president are working the grill…things must be getting better!”

Give me a call. I have some great sauce!



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