It feels like the dog days of summer. Desks emptying early, people racing for a few more long weekends before we scream into September.
But don't mistake that quiet for calm. The thin feeling of trading, coming in the wake of the Net-stock scare earlier this month, has helped ease some tension. But beneath the surface, the market remains nervous. And as September draws closer, we can expect new concerns to surface.
In no particular order, earnings, interest rates and Y2K issues are going to start getting more attention. And with that, the edginess will grow. Given the thin market of late August, the combination of concerns will likely conspire to give us more volatility than expected.
So don't get too wrapped in your beach blanket. The coming days and weeks are bound to offer more intensity than you expect.
Back for real? The
is up to more than 18,000, and the mood has brightened considerably throughout the summer. But there are rumblings of tax action, which crushed nascent recoveries in the past. And
has offered us a contrarian cover with the title: "Asia's Astonishing Bounce-Back." Given their contrarian covers on
(arguing for his departure), oil (arguing that there was too much oil for prices to rise) and the Internet (it's the greatest thing -- right before the latest Net-stock skid), one might want to start worrying a bit more about Japan.
Had another chance to visit with a subscriber recently. Hank Humphrey, a longtime fan of
, invited me to join him at Baltusrol, a club where he plays a little golf from time to time. We managed to get out for 18 holes on the lower course, and suffice it to say it's a good thing he's the member and I'm just a hack -- in more than one way.
Hank has subscribed to
since early 1997, making him one of those long-term true believers in our efforts. Like
Chuck Poston of Cincinnati, Hank is retired and enjoying his life. A little golf in New Jersey, a farm in North Carolina and time spent visiting kids and grandchildren. And like Chuck, Hank likes reading
not because he is an active trader (he's not), but because he wants to get a true feeling for what's happening on Wall Street. He used to work on the Street, and he says only
gives him the same sense of accuracy and information that he once enjoyed while working in the investment business as a pro.
There are a lot of people who simply crave quality information and intelligence. And we're glad they're finding a home at
. Among Hank's favorite stories in the past few weeks: a Cory Johnson
column about his family of daytraders and anything by the markets team. For the curious: Hank shot a blistering 84 on his birthday. I was about 30 shots above that. Now that's client golf!
Thanks to Berko:
James J. Cramer
on a week of vacation with the family, Berko, his able partner, stepped up and gave
readers a different flavor for what's happening at
. His insights gave us a nifty alternative to the daily filings of Cramer, and we appreciate him stepping up to the plate. Want more Berko? Let me know at
L'Etoile du Nord,