Drinking the Investing Kool Aid

When I was in 3rd grade, my class studied the stock market. We each got to choose three different companies that we wanted to invest in and then follow them for a given length of time. We read the Wall Street Journal daily, looking up the price of our stocks and put together a line graph that displayed their continued growth (clearly, it was a much better time for the economy back then.) I enjoyed this activity so much that I continued to follow my three stocks (Kellogg’s, Hershey’s & Disney) for some time after we completed the unit in school. I didn’t really understand how the stock market worked, nor did I really care; I really just liked drawing the graphs.

We received the Wall Street Journal at school but when I was at home we only received a local New Hampshire paper and the Boston Globe. So, one day when my mom sent me in to the grocery store to pick up a few things, I decided to grab a copy of the Wall Street Journal, so I could “check up” on my stocks (yes, I was a hardcore investor at the time). I had seen my mom grab our town paper off the shelf many times and not pay for it, since they were free. I figured the same was true with the Wall Street Journal. Unfortunately, I learned this was not the case when I climbed back into the car with my “reading” for the car ride home. My mom made me run back into the store, completely humiliated and embarrassed that I stole something, and made me pay the $1.25 that I owed for the newspaper. That was the first, and last time, I ever stole anything.

My interest in the stock market has slowly declined since my inital investing days. Since Matt is a “professional financer” I decided to make an effort to better understand the work that he does by reading “The Intelligent Investor.” What a mistake that was! I got about half way through the book (twice) before I quit for something more interesting (like the Shopaholic series!)

 

As much as I would like to leave the past behind me and forget about all of this investing nonsense, it doesn’t seem like that is a real possibility unless Matt decides to change careers.

Last night, when Matt came home around 10:30, I was already in bed. He came into the room and we talked for a little about our days. I honestly love how Matt’s version of “pillow talk” is to tell me about the investments that he researched or news from the stock market. Last night, he was all fired up from the craziness that took place on Wall Street.

As per usual, I didn’t really understand what he was talking about. Basically, the take away points I got were that the stock market had a mini “crash.” Specifically, people were saying that a trader might have accidentally sold 16 billion dollars worth of stock, instead of 16 million, because he accidentally hit the wrong key (fat finger). As a result, P & G’s stock dropped over 35% in a matter of minutes, setting off a state of panic and a market free-fall. Early this morning, Nasdaq announced it will cancel all trades of stocks at prices that were 60% above or below the last price at 2:40 p.m., or immediately prior in an attempt to set things straight.

On my walk to work this morning, I was stunned when I came upon the New York Stock Exchange building. As I have blogged about before, many companies will put banners up along the building to promote their company. This was the site that I came upon this morning.

Now isn’t that ironic?

They’re Magically Delicious

Every morning on my walk to work, after my stop at Dunkin Donuts, I pass by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The building itself it quite impressive, but the security that patrols the area is the real sight to see. Guards armed with machine guns, bomb sniffing dogs, and road barricades are constant reminders that we are living in a post 9-11 world. Thankfully, there are other reminders that this is a neighborhood where people live, work and go to school.

Everyday at 8:30am and 3:00pm, the streets are taken over by children streaming into and out of our building. The usual scene of men in suits is replaced by children in preppy uniforms and strollers clogging the sidewalks. Children, who are so accustomed to the site of tourists snapping photos of the historic sites in the neighborhood, they don’t even attempt to avoid being in the picture. The most impressive site, is when all 500 of our students and 100 staff members stream out of the building at the same time during our fire drills. I remember fire drills growing up, where we fled the building and lined up in rows in a field next to our playground. Here our kids walk around the corner to Starbucks. I am sure some of those 5-year-old would love in run in and grab a latte or cappuccino.

Some mornings, various companies sent up displays outside of the Stock Exchange. Sometimes they are announcing their listing debut on the NYSE or other times they are celebrating various events taking place. My favorite display was when Caterpillar set up giant machines on the street in front of the building. Walking by it, you felt like you were an ant in a sandbox with toy bulldozers and backhoes. My second favorite was the Super Bowl Half Time party that was set up Friday before the big game, by Ritz Crackers. They brought in a giant inflatable football helmet and various football themed games and of course, tasty treats. The only problem with these types of events is that they are always set up on the other side the security check point, so you can only experience them if you are a NYSE employee or badge holder. Unfortunately, I am neither. The last event worth mentioning was when a company (not sure what it was) trucked in a few cows and a bull. Not something you expect to see on Wall Street at 7:30 in the morning.

Some companies don’t set up great big displays, but rather, a simple banner is placed along the building. I still get a kick out of these which is why this is today’s “little thing.”

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