Apparently there's a nasty case of the "bank jitters" going around, and it's really infectious. What it sounds like the stock market needs, as opposed to several hundred billion taxpayer dollars, is just a good old-fashioned beating. Not the theoretical-economical kind of beating pegged to losing trillions of dollars in imagined money—more like just some fat lips and bloody noses. Every afternoon-news program seems to have a correspondant blaming the Dow's yoyoing on "panicky investors" and traders' "concerns." CNN (no, I don't know why I was watching it) explained that the Dow's 10,000 level, under which it's drunkenly stumbled, represents a major psychological barrier for the market.
Really? They're panicked and fragile and need therapy, and so the lead weight that is the U.S. economy—growing more leaden each day—can drag down the entire First World? (Call it class equality the hard way.)
In fact, as David Leonhardt writes online for the Times, the Dow is sort of a red-ink herring—things are probably worse than all that.
You can bet that most media accounts of the market’s performance will focus on the Dow…since it’s the best-known measure of the market. But it’s also a mistake. The Dow… [is] based on only 30 stocks. Almost no one owns a mutual fund tied to the Dow. The performance of the S.&P. 500, on the other hand, roughly describes the performance of mutual funds owned by millions of people.(Be sure to click through to Daniel Gross's 2003 piece for Slate, the basis for Leonhardt's post.)
The only good news I can think of at the moment (non-sports-related) is the refreshingly clear sense of desperation being exhibited by McPalin as they can no longer talk about anything besides Obama's alleged Manchurianity. They can feel it slipping away. But even that has a grim veneer to it: as my friend Craig Willingham pointed out the other night, the fact that the old white men are finally ready to hand the country off to a black guy—now that they've finished wrecking it. Hey, good luck with all that mess you're inheriting, Black Guy.