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Dow Takes Trip Down Memory Lane


Market hits lows unseen since 1997.

Some hit songs of 1997 now look prescient, given the market's consistently south-of-sour performance: "Candle In The Wind," say. "Unbreak My Heart." "Foolish Games."

What were then sappy love songs now seem like canny market prognostication. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 250.89 points on Monday, or 3.41%, to 7,114.78 --its lowest level since May 7, 1997 -- while the S&P 500 Index declined 26.72 points, or 3.47%, to 743.33 - its lowest point since April 11, 1997.

Both indexes have lost about half their value from the highs reached in October 2007.

Once-stalwart technology stocks -- including Intel (INTC), Google (GOOG) and International Business Machines (IBM) -- particularly took a hit. With manufacturing down, it's no surprise that makers of raw materials such as plastics, chemicals and aluminum were also down.

The Dow, S&P 500, NASDAQ and Russell 2000 were in positive territory in midday trading Tuesday, a gain on lower valuations - not due to any sudden rebound in confidence.

There's almost certainly more bad news ahead for investors as the Conference Board's consumer confidence level -- a survey of 5,000 households -- fell to 25 in February from 37.4 in January - the lowest level since data collection began in 1967 (1985 = 100).

Does anyone remember the dot-com bubble, its collapse and the strong recovery? It all seems as distant as the Peloponnesian War now.

The sad tale of market diminution includes chapters on the housing bubble; sub-prime mortgages; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; the possibility of Uncle Sam taking as much as a 40% stake in Citigroup; government bailouts; American International Group; CEOs at General Motors and Chrysler begging for a federal handout after flying to Washington in private jets; JPMorgan Chase scooping up moribund Washington Mutual; and . . .

Perhaps R. Kelly said it best in "I Believe I Can Fly," though the Backstreet Boys also came close with "Quit Playing Games." En Vogue advised, "Don't Let Go."

Sound advice; upbeat, too. But then Duncan Sheik told us we ere "Barely Breathing."

Oh well, as Meredith Brooks informed us in here undoubtedly profound and insightful lyrics: Life's a "Bitch."

Because as the Notorious B.I.G. noted: "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems."
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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