Charging Bulls, at Least for the Day: The Stock Market Rallies

Dow 9,387.61 +936.42 (11.08%)
Nasdaq 1,844.25 +194.74 (11.81%)
S&P 500 1,003.32 +104.10 (11.58%)

Wow! What a day. We needed this. Is the stock market giving the finger to the economic crisis, sort of like it gave the finger to 9/11?

No, we aren’t out of the woods yet. The stock market is a reaction and a prediction of what investors think will be happening in the future. However, let’s hope the bottom is in the past and we are on an upwards climb and today’s rally was a sign of good things to come on the financial horizon.

[Update: Today was the largest single-day gain ever for the Dow]

McCain calls comments by Georgia Democrat ‘shocking’

When is enough enough? It seems this election cycle is the new shock jock entertainment, if that’s what floats your boat. The Cultural War seems to be escalating.

According to CNN, Senator John McCain has called on Senator Obama to ‘immediately and personally repudiate’ remarks made by Rep John Lewis, D-Georgia.

Rep John Lewis issued a statement after several days of what he perceived as attention-grabbing attacks on Barack Obama during McCain/Palin campaign rallies:

“What I am seeing reminds me too much of another destructive period in American history. Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin are sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse…

George Wallace never threw a bomb. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who were simply trying to exercise their constitutional rights. Because of this atmosphere of hate, four little girls were killed on Sunday morning when a church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama.”

Senator McCain, who has previously sung the praises of Rep. Lewis, responded with:

“Congressman John Lewis’ comments represent a character attack against Gov. Sarah Palin and me that is shocking and beyond the pale,…

The notion that legitimate criticism of Sen. Obama’s record and positions could be compared to Gov. George Wallace, his segregationist policies and the violence he provoked is unacceptable and has no place in this campaign. I am saddened that John Lewis, a man I’ve always admired, would make such a brazen and baseless attack on my character and the character of the thousands of hardworking Americans who come to our events to cheer for the kind of reform that will put America on the right track…

I call on Sen. Obama to immediately and personally repudiate these outrageous and divisive comments that are so clearly designed to shut down debate 24 days before the election. Our country must return to the important debate about the path forward for America.”

Good grief! This rancor and contentiousness is just getting out of hand. I do hope everyone remembers the sad fate of Governor George Wallace. He ran for president as a third party candidate and was shot down in an assassination attempt during a campaign rally in Laurel, Maryland in 1972. Wallace was permanently paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of his life. Evil and careless words lead to evil deeds.

Oddly enough, Wallace had become a born-again Christian and had apologized for his segregationist vitriol of earlier years.

Retirement Plans: What’s a Person to Do?

Today’s Washington Post is just full of financial articles today. Section F, the business section, has so much information in it, your head will spin.

One article in particular that caught my eye was “Retirement Wreck: Are 401(k)s Still Viable for Saving? (F1). It discusses the gradual movement from defined-benefit plans, like social security and employer pensions to defined-contribution plans like 401(k), 403(b) where the employee has ownership of the plan and the risk, regardless of how little they know about investing or the stock market.

In the past 15 months Americans have lost around 2 trillion dollar’s worth of retirement savings housed in pensions and 401k-type plans. Ouch! 401k plans generally have more stocks in their portfolios than do pensions, so they have been hit the hardest.

Historically (or back as far as 1976), it has taken as short as 5 months to as long as 8 years to recover from a bear market. The article warns about letting fear take over. Those who panic and withdraw their funds face penalty and lock in their losses.

Is the advice solid? Who knows. It seems to be pretty much the same that the experts on TV like Suzie Orman and Ali Velshi advise us.

Click on the Washington Post link above for the entire article.