Cocktail Chatter

Cocktail Chatter

Cocktail Chatter

Moneybox
Commentary about business and finance.
Jan. 21 1999 6:53 PM

Cocktail Chatter

Well, you get used to stocks always going up, I guess, which is why yesterday's and today's sell-off in the Nasdaq hit people so hard. I mean, the Nasdaq is up, what, 900 points or something since October, so giving up a hundred points here or there hardly makes this a bear market. Of course, we all know that people hate losses 2½ times as much as they like gains (do we all know that? Well, some behavioral finance guy does), so expect it to be a gloomy weekend, unless there's a big bounce back today. But shake it off. Just remember, the Microsoft trial has only another seven or eight months to go.

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Herewith, then, this week's Chatter. Try as I might, I couldn't stay away from the Internet stocks. Just too much material this week.

1. "How weird is it that Apple founder and interim CEO Steve Jobs doesn't get a salary from the company and doesn't even own any stock in it (he sold it all a few years ago)? Hey, maybe he really is thinking different."

2. "All indications are that Intel has now figured out how to make a 600-megahertz chip, which is only three times as fast as the one in the PC I purchased less than two years ago. The only question I have is: What could I possibly do on my PC that would require a 600-mhz chip?"

3. "Amazon.com dipped below $100 a share today, while Yahoo nearly tumbled below $250 a share. Technical analysts--that is, soothsayers--insist that if these stocks can't hold those support levels, the next stop will be much closer to $0 than anyone expects. Of course, they don't have any idea what they're talking about. But I do wonder how the people who bought Yahoo at $445 a share are feeling right now."

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4. "Lucent buys Ascend, At Home buys Excite. Busy week. But I won't say merger-mania again until the week I'm really waiting for. You know, the week when Ford buys Toyota, Microsoft buys Intel, Disney buys Time Warner, and the U.S. buys Brazil. That'll be really cool."

5. "In his testimony before the House, Fed chair Alan Greenspan made it clear that he thinks the best thing the Federal government could do with its budget surplus is bank it, since that'll raise the national savings rate. But Republican congressmen kept trying to get him to say that he supported the tax cut, and when he wouldn't, they would say, 'Well, wouldn't a tax cut be better than more spending.' Greenspan responded, 'Yes, it would be. But more spending would be better than being questioned by you numbskulls.' "

6. "General Motors reported yet another strong quarter, with profits up 7 percent and sales booming. I'd say it's time for another strike."

7. "Microsoft announced that its fourth-quarter earnings were up 75 percent from a year ago, and then said that analysts' estimates for the current quarter were probably a little light. I suppose it's safe to say that 'dismay' did not describe the Justice Department's reaction to that news."