Financial Market Reporting, Part 8: Mutual Funds and Index Funds

In a previous post about indexes, I identified the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard and Poor’s 500 as the two most frequently referenced. They originated as short-cuts that summarized market trends, and are often used as a benchmark against which investment performance can be judged.

There has been an explosion in the number of indexes in recent years. There are hundreds if not thousands available, enough to slice and dice the markets in as many ways as can be imaged. Some are broad-based, like the NASDAQ Composite with more than 3,000 stocks. Others might track a region, like the EURO STOXX 50, based on 50 large companies in the Eurozone. Some follow companies of a certain size, like the Wilshire US Small Cap. And still others focus on an industry, such as the NYSE Arca (originally AMEX) Semiconductor Index.

Continue at businessjournalism.org….

Financial Market Reporting, Part 7: Indexes

Business reporters can get up to speed on market indexes with a backgrounder on the Dow and S&PIn my first Financial Market Reporting piece, I complained that many reporters make casual reference to “the market” without specifying what they mean. Usually, I wrote, they mean the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which I called the “best known” stock market measure. The DJIA is just one of a multitude of stock market indexes that pop up in virtually every discussion of the markets, including reports evaluating individual stocks and other investment vehicles. So they warrant a closer look.

The first index

The DJIA was not the first stock market index. It was not even the first index created by Charles Dow. In 1880 Dow, who was 29 years old, moved to New York and got a job at the Kieman Wall Street Financial News Bureau, which furnished financial news to banks and brokerages. In those days there was a lot of “fake” news, designed to tout companies and their stocks. But the Kieman service had a reputation for sticking to the facts.

Dow figured if one responsible news service could succeed there was room for more, and with a fellow reporter, Edward Jones, founded Dow, Jones & Company. The pair produced newsletters and summaries of financial news, which they delivered to financial institutions and investors. Their “Customer’s Afternoon Letter” quickly grew to have more than 1,000 subscribers.

Continues at businessjournalism.org….

 

Lunch with Paul Kangas, Nightly Business Report

Paul Kangas

I remember one specific lunch with Paul Kangas. Silly, isn’t it? I spent a fair amount of time with Paul during the many years I was associated with public television’s Nightly Business Report. That included several meals with a man who, among many other things, appreciated good food and drink. Why would one particular lunch stand out?

It was 1990. A year before I had moved from Chicago, my hometown, where I worked for CBS, NBC, and as a freelance contributor for NBR, to New York. Here I was NBR’s New York Bureau Chief and Senior Correspondent. Paul had been with NBR since it first went on the air in 1979. A former stockbroker, Paul was at first the broadcast’s stock commentator. Later he added co-anchor to his role.

But Paul was so much more than his title implies. On a broadcast that itself defined a new role for business news on television, Paul set the standard for both the program and the industry.

Continue reading

9-11 + 15

9-11 Memorial Pool
9-11 Memorial Pool

I did not go to witness the ceremony of remembrance at the 9-11 Memorial today. I am never comfortable when I am at the 16 acre site of the World Trade Center in Manhattan. It’s not the memories. Those come and go depending on what is going on in the world. It’s the images which lingered before me for months after that day. Now they almost never return. Unless I am at the site.

On September 11, 2001, my wife Amy and I lived in Battery Park City in lower Manhattan. We had moved there from midtown just a few months earlier. Our apartment building was at the south end of the neighborhood, south and west of WTC Tower #2. I was the New York Bureau Chief and Senior Correspondent for public television’s Nightly Business Report and the newsroom/production facility/broadcast studio was just across West Street, even closer to the tower, due south of the site. Tower #2 filled the window of my bedroom, and of my office.

I was putting on my tie when I heard a noise I later described as the sound of a dump truck unloading gravel at my feet. Running to the window, I saw smoke coming from the top of tower #1, the view partially obscured by #2, which was closer to me. I had been through the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, so I did think of that. But I thought in terms of a bomb planted inside, or an explosion on one of the equipment floors toward the top of the building. It was 8:46am.

Continue reading

Star Trek at 50

William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek
William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek

50 Years. It is hard to believe. I still remember where I was and who I was watching with on September 8, 1966, when Star Trek premiered on NBC. If only we knew then what we know now.

The anniversary has triggered a deluge of comments on social media and, as is usual in this day and age a great deal of controversy. And why not? The original series, now formally known as TOS, has been followed by four more, plus an animated series. And a fifth is on its way. On this date we can also count a franchise of 13 films. I’m not going to even try to total the number of novels, comic books, works of non-fiction about the Star Trek world and the success of the concept. Or the number of doctoral dissertations written about this phenomena, or the number of college courses taught on Star Trek themes. It is all a moving target.

And because in these days of social media anything and everything becomes an issue for debate, it should be noted that while many commentators see Star Trek as a noble venture which presented sensitive and controversial issues to a world not ready to openly discuss them and encouraged generations of young people to pursue careers in the sciences, others see Star Trek as a fable describing a utopian world to which even it was not faithful. Like most of these disputes, where is some truth in both positions.

 

Continue reading

Robert Goheen and the Open Mind

Robert F. Goheen
Robert F. Goheen

Robert F. Goheen was a professor of classics when he was selected, at the age of 37, to become the 16th president of Princeton University. When he began his term in 1957, Princeton was a good school. But it was also very much a southern men’s club. When he stepped down in 1972, Princeton was one of the world’s great universities, having grown greatly in size and budget; in research productivity; and in ethnic and racial diversity. And it had become coeducational.

That last change was probably the most traumatic. Princeton’s trustees voted in favor of coeducation in the spring of 1969. The first women to be admitted as freshmen in an incoming class arrived that fall, members of the class of 1973. I was a member of that class, and I remember the turmoil on campus, with television crews running all over asking everyone what they thought of the matter. Since I had attended a coed elementary school and a coed high school which had far more diversity than was found at Princeton in 1969, I didn’t see much novelty. In fact, with only one hundred women and about one thousand men in the class, I found the ratio disappointing!

Goheen had championed coeducation in spite of some fierce opposition, mostly — although not exclusively — from alumni who decried the loss of a tradition and threatened to withhold their monetary contributions in protest. Moreover, his support marked a reversal of his earlier position. In 1965, he opposed coeducation, but changed his mind four years later.

Continue reading

Journalism and Business

I usually find when a journalist writes about journalism, the result is boring, or self-serving, or both. But with all the discussion surrounding Rupert Murdoch’s bid to buy The Wall Street Journal, the sales of the Tribune Company and
Reuters, and complaints from shareholders about the performance of New York Times stock, I’ll take a chance.

I remember when I was in school, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, trying to decide between two career interests, the law and journalism. The law seemed the more serious profession. But it was the time of the Watergate scandal. The journalists were the heroes, and the lawyers were all going to jail.

I chose to be a hero. As I look back, I figure I would have made a lot more money had I chosen the law. Otherwise, I remain satisfied with my decision.
Continue reading