Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Taking Stock of Stocks 26 Years and 1,352 Columns Down Road

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Taking Stock of Stocks 26 Years and 1,352 Columns Down Road

Article excerpt

Benjamin Franklin was given to say that, while you may delay, time will not. And so it is that footprints in the sands of time once again mark the anniversary of a journey begun long ago. On Sunday, July 31, 1988, the following prologue appeared in the Trenton Times of Trenton, N.J.

"Today, Lauren Rudd begins writing a weekly column about Wall Street for The Trenton Times. ..."

Streetwise can now attest to its 26th anniversary as a nationally distributed column without a single missed week. If you are keeping count, those years represent 1,352 columns about Wall Street. The irony is that what I wrote on that auspicious day many years ago might again be considered a prescient commentary on today's market activity.

"The individual investor has been pummeled and is ready to surrender. What with the debacle of last October (Refers to the market crash of Oct. 19, 1987), many are deciding that they have had enough and are leaving Wall Street, an action reminiscent of an audience walking out on a bad play.

"After going down in flames that fateful day, individual investors retreated to lick their wounds and to decide what to do next. This leaves Wall Street worried, and well it should. The individual investor has always been its bread and butter. However, these same investors now feel that their trust in Wall Street may have been misplaced and that the game is rigged, with the spoils going to the large institutions."

Yes, there has been some change over the ensuing 26 years. The fair-disclosure rule requires that everyone receive the same information at the same time, while Sarbanes Oxley helps ensure that what you read in a financial statement is more or less accurate. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are additional small steps forward despite continual efforts to abandon and/or defund them.

No, the oversight is not perfect, as the victims of various Ponzi schemes can readily attest. Just as damaging is the continual violation of the public trust, illustrated by issues such as flash trading and the stream of insider-trading cases.

Meanwhile, the economy, as represented by Main Street, although still nursing injuries inflicted by the Great Recession, is on the road to recovery -- if you ignore the implicit loss of five years of investment returns and wages. …

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