Bidding farewell to 1991, we present a collection of items about money, investments, contests, the workplace, etc.
NOTES & QUOTES: Tom Hauff, WBAL-TV news director, told me his grandfather gave him these pieces of advice: "When you walk, walk like you're going somewhere. . . . To make a living, find a need and fill it. . . . It never hurts to ask; the worst anybody can say is no." . . . When listening to 411 operators for phone information recently, how often have you written "410" before the number you really wanted? . . . Overheard: "I'm independently wealthy; I have enough money to last me the rest of my life as long as I die tomorrow." . . . "The average man earns $28,605 a year." (Men's Health).
GOODBYE 1991: When I asked the young woman selling soft drinks at a local movie theater, "How much longer does this horrible picture ('The Last Boy Scout') last?" she replied, "Oh, only 20 minutes more, but don't be embarrassed; a lot of other old people didn't like it either."
Have you noticed knots of women smoking outside office buildings? When I asked one why men smokers don't do the same, she replied, "Most men have private offices where they smoke." . . . When I phoned the switchboard of a well-known local firm and asked by his full name for the chief executive officer, the operator (who later admitted she was a holiday temporary) asked, "What department does he work in?"
WHAT A WEEK! Because, until last week, there was never a 167-point surge in the 100-year history of the Dow Jones average, we saw wide "musical chair" shifts in our forecasting contests. Whereas Sun editorial page editor Joseph R.L. Sterne led last Monday in our "expert" division with his 2,921 year's end prediction, he is replaced today by real estate executive Jack B. Wasserman with his 3,102 crystal ball number, less than one point from Friday's 3,101.52 close. In just a week Sterne is 180 points away, validating the old Chinese proverb, "We all change places at the rising of the moon."
MORE CHANGES: In our reader contest, today's closest forecaster for Dec. 31 is T.L. Boyd at DJ 3,101, followed by Bernie Vondersmith (3,103), Patrick Hoyt (3,104) and Gerald Macks (3,104). These men replace Dec. 13 leaders Rose Ann Speece, Henry Blum, Philip Voelkek, Bill Bricker, Lester Van Asdlen, Marlene Cohen, Ivan Quinter, all distant with forecasts around 2,915. And Melvin Krolczyk (3,094) is close, with this comment, "I just haven't been able to win, so this year I won't be scientific; this is my house number backward."
YEAR-ENDERS: According to today's Barron's, the Dow Jones price-earnings ratio (relationship of stock prices to underlying earnings) stands at 30 times earnings, about double the normal relationship. . . . National Business Employment Weekly, dated today, is a fine issue ($3.95 and worth it), including the 10 best 1991 articles (best resumes, how to network, answering want-ads, job-search tips, etc.)
BG&E, Potomac Electric and McCormick stocks reached 12-month "new highs" last week. . . . Maybe Ravi Batra was right, after all, about the Depression of the early 1990s. . . . Money magazine, January ($2.95), runs tables showing where lowest area mortgage and highest savings rates are.