Pearl Harbor rocked stocks

The Ticker

December 05, 1991|By Julius Westheimer

Fifty years ago this weekend -- Saturday, Dec. 6, 1941 (stock markets were open Saturday mornings until 1954) -- the Dow Jones average closed at 116.60, but the day after Pearl Harbor the DJ dropped 4 points, or 3 1/2 percent, equal to 102 points at today's level. Yesterday the Dow closed at 2,911.67, roughly 2,500 percent above its Pearl Harbor week level.

,3 LOOKING BACK: New York and Baltimore newspapers (3 cents daily, 10 cents Sunday) of the Dec. 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor week show: Men's ties at Bloomingdale's, 69 cents (3 for $2); ladies suit, Saks Fifth Avenue, $39.95; men's Hickey Freeman suits, $60; Davega Philco cabinet radio, $105 (there were no TV sets then); St. Moritz Hotel, New York, rooms from $4 up; beef stew lunch, Longchamps, 85 cents; S&N Katz sunglasses, $1.95; Julius Gutman's men's shirts, 89 cents, Cannon towels, 29 cents, and boys' pajamas, 47 cents.

LOOKING AHEAD: "Politically motivated monetary policy [especially when it doesn't work] spooks the markets. Thus the dollar collapsed, stocks tumbled and even the bond market took major hits. Cut stock holdings to 20 percent of your overall holdings, use rallies to sell." (Adrian Day's Investment Analyst) . . . "We continue to hold our positive stance for stocks." (Tucker Anthony Memo) . . . "Saying the market was historically up 30 percent on average after the Fed's fifth rate cut is like saying that on average you don't need an overcoat in Buffalo." . . . (Joseph McAlinden, Dillon Read) . . . "The explosion coming in stocks will make previous moves seem like chicken feed." (Young's Intelligence Report)

RECESSION RECAP: "Forget the leading indicators. Look around instead. Notice the spending slump for cars, appliances, houses; job cuts; scared bankers; empty shopping center parking lots; vacant restaurants. When eyeball indicators look negative, bet on recession -- and manage your business and investment affairs accordingly." (A. Gary Shilling, Forbes, Dec. 9) . . . "Investment adviser Harry Browne doesn't trust economic forecasts; so why is he so bearish? Because he thinks there are just too many things right now that could worsen and send the economy into a tailspin -- skyrocketing federal debt, insolvent banking system, erratic Federal Reserve monetary policy" (Mark Hulbert, same Forbes, on newsstands this week.)

LOCAL RECESSION: My "root canal" dentist says, "My business is way down. All dentists are hurting so they don't refer patients to specialists any more. They do root canals themselves." . . . A salesperson in a well-known costume sales and rental store on North Howard Street says her business feels the recession badly. "After all, we are a luxury item," she explained, "and people can do without costumes." . . . The sales manager of a local direct-mail firm says her business is way up, adding, "It's just a matter of making more and better sales calls."

MARYLAND MEMOS: Tomorrow night, "Wall Street With Louis Rukeyser" features short-selling techniques with guest Joseph Feshbach and panelists Elizabeth Dater, John Dessauer, Harvey Eisen . . . Speaking of W$W, my 12 stock selections this year are up 23 percent vs. S&P 500 index, up 15 percent and Dow Jones average, ahead 12 percent . . . Security Analysts host Giant Food, Tuesday, Dec. 10, Sheraton, noon . . . BG&E stock landed in the 12-month new high listings at midweek . . . By contrast, IBM stock, glamour darling of the 1970s, landed in the yearly new low listings.

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