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The tone of talk in the public square is everything when it comes to predicting market moves. And as the


nears a new high and The Business Press Maven looks around this morning, I must say that I like what I see and hear -- which is quite a departure from back in January, the age of dumb revelry.

Back then, as the Dow neared the 11,000 benchmark,


, for one, was in full flower with a daring display of idiocy. Rather than simply reporting on the move and trying to figure out whether nearing a new high was warranted, the talking heads turned into carnival barkers, rank promoters of the move. Their breathless "Dow 11,000 coverage" was so pervasive and over the top that The Business Press Maven was

forced to equate it with what was also in the news then: the widely hailed 7,486th performance of

The Phantom of the Opera



was not the only offender.

MSN Money

, for example, actually

ran an article

with this lead: "Rally on!"

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Look around today and you'll find, instead, a more matter-of-fact tone. Why does that matter? For a few reasons. When the business media fall into "Party on, dude!" mode, it means they're too busy throwing confetti to notice substantive things.

In the case of January, in the same articles in which I said that


had lost its marbles at the sight of Dow 11,000, I was also shouting about what the business media were missing: The

Federal Reserve

was in no way saying that interest rates would be flash-frozen. Even if it had, it would be a moot point because then-incoming Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke was not in attendance.

Little details like that can be missed when the business media are busy pouring mixed drinks for the Dow, so it's good that nothing is being shaken with ice now. It's good that the market finally has an accurate read on Fed intentions. And it's good that inflation probably appears in check and that the overdone rise in oil prices seems to have abated.

To be positive about two things in a row might just make The Business Press Maven twitch all over. But the fact is, I'm happy with

Dress Barn


this morning. As you know, The Business Press Maven regularly performs jujitsu on retailers for blaming the weather for their every mistake and miscue, and the business media, for, without giving it a teaspoon of thought, passing along these excuses, which are often contradictory.

Over the summer, the same hot weather got blamed for hurting retail sales because people stayed home and because they went to the mall to enjoy the air conditioning but were too depleted by the heat to buy. I'd like to point out that if weather were such a factor, retailers would credit it when they did well. And that brings us to Dress Barn, may the good Lord bless it.

It reported

a good fourth quarter and said that the fall looked robust -- not solely due to its genius, but because the cooler-than-expected weather means that people are buying sweaters early and often, as they say in Chicago voting precincts.

If you've already digested your breakfast, read Mark Hurd,



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CEO (though not for much longer), spin his wheels in a

Business Week


How bad are things for H-P? Well,

The Wall Street Journal

reports the good news today that the criminal investigation might be hurt by the fact that some 20-something data spy in the Midwest seems to have

sledgehammered his computer


When that's the good news, The Business Press Maven does not need to preach, things are bad. And things are looking good for


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shareholders, at least according to


. in a concise and somewhat convincing

little piece


And speaking of conviction, I am convinced that I want to beat myself about the head every time I see


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make another move higher. This is a case where the Peter Lynch principle to simply buy what your family eats and wears would have brought riches. (No, my family doesn't eat the sandals, but you get the point.) I, however, did not buy, not even realizing until recently (dumb little Maven) that what appears to be a one-hit wonder company was public.

Which brings me to

L.A. Gear

, a company I once shorted to my portfolio's delight. Or


, which rode this thing called the running shoe into other product categories and many years of profits. So which will it be for Crocs? Please send The Business Press Maven your thought and rants, though do go light on the crayon. As we go forward, please pay particular attention to product extension (they are do or die) and tell me what you think.

While we are on the subject of retailers expanding product lines, what do you think of


, cold weather mountain gear producer, hitting the surf, a move featured in a big

Women's Wear Daily


this morning


And, in conclusion, as much as I enjoy making the folks at


cry for their clumsy high spirits back when, I do want to direct your attention to an interesting segment on

Adam Morrison

. Morrison, who might be one of the top rookies in the NBA this coming season, has Type 1 diabetes. Now he appears to be the first professional athlete to endorse a medical device, a

Johnson & Johnson

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product that measures blood sugar levels. It's more meaningful than endorsing L.A. Gear, I'll tell you that.

A journalist with a background on Wall Street, Marek Fuchs has written the County Lines column for The New York Times for the past five years. He also contributes regular breaking news and feature stories to many of the paper's other sections, including Metro, National and Sports. Fuchs was the editor-in-chief of, a financial Web site twice named "Best of the Web" by Forbes Magazine. He was also a stockbroker with Shearson Lehman Brothers in Manhattan and a money manager. He is currently writing a chapter for a book coming out in early 2007 on a really embarrassing subject. He lives in a loud house with three children.