Ten Very Good Reasons to Remain Bullish Russia? Asia? The euro? Pah! Here's what really makes the market go. (Hint: It involves global warming, power ties, and Warren Buffett. And maybe bagels.)
By Stanley Bing

(FORTUNE Magazine) – I was sitting around the other day doing what all ex-hippies do--watching the CNBC ticker--and my pal Barbeau called. "What the hell is going on with the market?" he said peevishly, echoing the question that's been on the lips of all former Janis Joplin fans lately. "It's down 20 already!" It was only 9:51 A.M. "No," he continued. "Thirty! Thirty-five! Forty! My God! I gotta go!" In the time it took to hang up the phone, the market lost 50 more points. By noon, it was down 400. It closed down 120 after zooming upward for no apparent reason between 3:15 and 4 P.M. During the entire 6 1/2-hour period, there was no news worth relating. The sun shone the whole time. Okay, it was a little humid, but that doesn't explain anything.

It's obvious that the market has not been acting in an entirely rational fashion lately. This is unfortunate, because there are people who actually have real money wrapped up in it. Others may not have any money themselves but work for companies that would dearly like to sell stock to people who do. Both these groups, it seems to me, would like to see the market go up every day. And yet sometimes it does not--and quite dramatically too. The time has come to put an end to this madness. Business, after all, is a rational process, run by rational people, and the stock market should be the same. There are any number of excellent reasons for the market to continue to climb. Ten, to be precise.

1. Nothing has changed. This morning virtually everybody I know got up, shaved some part of themselves, and ate the same breakfast they've eaten for at least a decade. For me, since 1987, it's been a muffin. You may be different. It seems to me that more people eat bagels nowadays. This is a slight difference from toast, but not an appreciable one. It certainly doesn't explain a 4% drop in the net worth of capitalist society in one day.

2. Earnings are up. At my company, we have many earnings. Sometimes we earn X. Sometimes we earn 2X. On a rare occasion, we may earn 3X or 1/2X. But anyway you slice it, we've got some, and so have you, I bet. Earnings are good things, and I believe we should be rewarded for them with a stock price that's 30 or 40 times their number. That's shareholder value, and who doesn't believe in that? Communists!

3. The Russian beet market is still okay. Russians eat a lot of beets. What they can't eat, they force others to. Recently, in what many consider a positive development, the Russian beet situation became less important, and their ability to force other people to eat them diminished. Now all of a sudden, people are obsessed with Russians again. Let's forget about 'em! Who needs 'em?

4. The yen is still worth very, very little. This was true 50 years ago, and it continues to be true, even if it creeps up now and then to the point where you could buy a small, supplemental postage stamp with a hundred of them. It has always taken many, many yen to buy a camera, for instance. I bought a beautiful Pentax in Nagano this past February. It came to, like, nearly 100,000 yen! If my wife found out I'd spent 100,000 of anything, boy, would I have heard about it! Imagine my pleasant surprise to find out that my credit card was charged for less than $700. Seven hundred! That's not that much.

5. The unification of Europe continues...to be the most boring subject on the planet. I mean, really. If they want to be 20 countries with one currency, let them. If they reconsider, and decide they want to be 20 different countries with a bunch of cute currencies and lots of funny sashes, that's okay too. It's still a terrific place to visit. The people are great, and the scenery is unbelievable. I highly recommend it, especially in August, when most of the people go away.

6. The dollar is strong and weak and going up and down. Who cares? You've got a bunch in your wallet, haven't you? Shut up about it already!

7. Yellow power ties are over, baby! And I think that's fantastic. I was on a train a couple of years ago, and every single male was wearing some version of the same tie--blue diamonds on a yellow background. Several women were wearing it as well. Today you only see that tie on twentysomething posers who are trying to appear boomerish enough to supplant their elders. And the hell with them too!

8. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. Hurrah!

9. Global warming is continuing. There's nothing worse than trying to get to work on a really cold day in the middle of winter, when your nose freezes to the rest of your face. Well, those days are over! The ice caps are melting, so toss yours away, particularly the ones with the little flaps that cover your ears. Don't you hate those? Nobody looks good in them. Seriously, it was warming up nicely during the entire booming bull market of the early '90s, and there's every reason to believe the trend is continuing. And that's fine, because you want trends to continue when things are going well. You don't want to have stuff bubbling along nicely and suddenly a trend on the periphery of things changes and pretty soon adjacent trends begin to decay a little bit and then you wake up one morning and find you've got a whole new bunch of trends to contend with.

10. People are still having fun! I see it every day--men and women eating and drinking and laughing and enjoying themselves at the office and at home. You want that to stop? You want everybody to start worrying about purchasing that next veal cutlet? You want companies to have to stop concentrating on spin and start worrying about financial performance? You want your bonus cut? You want the bull to die? I don't think so!

So I want you to close your eyes and take a very special breath. And then I want you to clap your hands together and believe harder than you've ever believed in anything in your life. Say to yourself, "I do believe in growth! I do! I do!" And keep on clapping! Harder! It's working! Look! It's raising its head! It's snorting! It's rising to its feet!

By the way, let me know when it gets back to where it was in May.

Until then, God bless us, every one!

By day, STANLEY BING is a real executive at a real FORTUNE 500 company he'd rather not name.