Granted that this is the longest economic expansion in U.S. history, and granted that the Goldilocks economy has lasted far longer than anyone imagined it could, and granted that Alan Greenspan has received the lion's share of credit for the economy's smooth running, but you still have to wonder whether Greenspan isn't getting just a bit annoyed at how little influence he seems to have over the stock market, especially since all his invocations of the wealth effect suggest he's increasingly concerned with the market. Today, Greenspan came out and essentially said that higher interest rates were in the cards for the foreseeable future, but while hapless retailers and banks saw their stocks tremble, the Nasdaq responded by jumping 121 points to reach another all-time high. And since the Nasdaq is now effectively the cultural center of the investing world, it's that rise that everyone's going to notice. Of course, Greenspan, as a good Chicago-school economist, knows that in the long run Fed-chair pronouncements can't and shouldn't shape markets. But in the short run, you wonder if he's thinking about how these kids just don't know their place.
1. "Wal-Mart's stock dropped almost 10 percent Thursday and is down 30 percent since the year began, supposedly on concerns over interest rates. Far be it from me to critique the wisdom of the market, but if the economy slows down, is there any store in America that people are less likely stop going to than Wal-Mart? 'Sorry, kids, but times are tough. We'll have to head to Nordstrom instead!' "
2. "Internet ad agency Doubleclick began the week introducing a host of measures intended to reassure Net users that it could protect their privacy if they really wanted it protected, and ended it under informal investigation by the FTC for privacy violations. The time has come for a campaign redefining privacy itself. How about 'Just between you, a leading Internet ad agency, and all its clients!' as a slogan."
3. "Oil prices soared above $30 a barrel on news of impending conflict in ... No, that's wrong. Actually, they soared above $30 a barrel because there are lots of people out there who buy products derived from crude oil."
4. "Annoying new Lexus ads describe the company as 'Official Headquarters of Overachievers Anonymous.' I'm now praying for Infiniti ads that say 'Infiniti: Because some people understand multitasking is not the point of living' and 'For when you take your nose off that damn grindstone.' "
5. "The New York Times reported that twice in the past year, E*Trade failed to include important information about its executives' compensation in its SEC filings, as it's required to do. The company called the initial omission an 'oversight' and said it didn't violate any rules in the second case. (It did.) An SEC spokeswoman said that if a company regularly omitted such information, the SEC could act, including sending 'a letter expressing concern.' Whoa. I can't believe E*Trade would risk getting that kind of letter."
6. "Abercrombie & Fitch's shares were pummeled this week after the company came in with quarterly results that suggested the company's same-store and new-store sales were slowing. The company did announce, though, that in addition to its trademark stores and its kids' stores, it would be rolling out a whole new line of stores this summer. Some speculate the new stores will focus on surf/skate apparel, others that it'll be low-end stuff, à la Old Navy. But no one has yet guessed the obvious: that the stores will be devoted to the magic of the ascot."
7. "By the end of Who Wants To Marry a Multi-Millionaire?, a full third of female television viewers under the age of 35 were watching the show. Unfortunately, this doesn't tell us much, since Nielsen doesn't give viewers a chance to distinguish between 'Watching as I would watch a car wreck,' 'Watching so I can tell my grandchildren how truly idiotic we could be,' and 'Watching because there's nothing more romantic than a wedding, even one taking place for completely mercenary purposes.' "