Having read just the excerpt of The Fortune Tellers online, I have to admit that it looks like James J. Cramer has a point. Howard Kurtz is probably right in general where insisting that someone trying to divine the vicissitudes of stock market aggregates or of the individual issues which comprise the aggregates from moment to moment is, more often than not, someone fumbling around in a blizzard—a raging storm of impossible-to-gauge elements which admit of very little visibility alone or in their concatenation.
But surely the more interesting story concerns not the impact of these "fortunetellers" or the conflicts and challenges they pose to market regulatory institutions, but the personalities of the actors who have promoted themselves to a standing where pure visibility may equal—or be confused with—what power and elements drive markets in reality. Cramer is more interesting—and, not incidentally, more revealed—in his own words than he is in Kurtz's depiction.
Subject: Ballot Box Blames the Victim
Re: " Ballot Box: Pot and Kettle Department"
Date: Sun Oct 1 5:52 p.m.
What's troubling is not that there's a double standard when it comes to Democratic and Republican interference with FBI investigations, but that you think that there is a double standard. In all the cases that you cite regarding involvement of the Clinton White House in investigations, administration officials were the suspects. In the case of the Bush campaign trying to get the FBI to get in gear on the stolen-debate-video investigation, it's the victim trying to push the investigation. This is clearly and absolutely correct. They are afraid that the mole is still there and they want him or her found. The idea of the Bush camp creating this as a farce to make the Gore people look bad is ludicrous. Why? Because there's no guarantee that the Gore people would ever admit they got the tape. They might just try to use it instead.
The author asserts that Priceline.com and Yahoo! are in completely different businesses, and therefore their market valuations should be completely decoupled. It's a plausible argument: after all, the World Wrestling Federation and Martha Stewart Living aren't lumped together in a "television" sector, and their fortunes are completely unrelated, in reality as well as in the perception of Wall Street analysts. The so-called Internet sector is rapidly heading in that direction as well, as there emerges a broadening discrimination between B2B, E-tailers, IT consultancy, etc.
However, we're not there yet. The reason that stocks such as Yahoo! and Priceline.com are moving downward in tandem is that two years ago they rode the same dippy, irrational wave upward in tandem. In the heyday of the Internet gold rush, any crappy company with a half-baked business plan and no revenue was awarded an enormous market cap simply by being associated with the Internet. Now that the hysteria has faded, and these businesses are being reevaluated in the harsh light of economic reality, it makes perfect sense that they move in tandem toward sane valuations. Then the decoupling can begin.
Subject: Automate the Congressional Staff? Not Just Yet
Re: " Net Election: Senate Follows E-Business To Deal With E-Mail Overload"
From: Joseph Britt
Date: Tue Sept 26 2:24 p.m.
The author overlooks one liability of the Congressional e-mail-sorting system that no competent Senate office would. The messages sorted by the Echomail system would still need to be re-sorted by someone able to distinguish messages expressing an opinion from those asking questions or seeking help on a casework problem. Congressional offices are very sensitive about screwing up casework. Actually Congressional staff are more sensitive about this than Senators and Representatives are—few elected officials lose their jobs by being unresponsive to constituents, but staff can and do get fired for this offense.