You Always Wanted to Know About the Stock Market But Were Too Busy
Trying to Connect to E*Trade to Ask
by Mad Dog
In reality, a
lot of other factors come into play, including news about the
economy, whether Alan Greenspan farted and it sounded like ďI
think Iíll raise interest ratesĒ, and how the planets are
Lately it seems as if all you hear about is the stock market, the
stock market, the stock market. It's enough to make you pray for a
steady stream of Cuban kids heading to the U.S. on rafts just so we
have something different to hear about for a change.
If you're like most
people, you wouldn't know a bull market from a china shop, though
chances are you know enough to realize the two don't mix. But since
you're determined not to be the last person on your block to throw
every spare dollar you have into the stock market, you might as well
learn something about it before you take the plunge. And who better
to answer your stock market questions than someone who doesn't own
stock, doesn't have enough money to buy a can of chicken stock, and
is only doing this because he hopes a lot of newspapers will run it,
meaning he'll be able to corner the market in Larry Linville
memorial Beanie Babies. Yes, me. So let the questions begin!
What is stock?
A stock is a piece of paper that says you own a little teeny tiny
piece of a company. The more stock you have, the more of the company
you own. Of course this is all make believe since no one ever sees
that piece of paper, so for all you know it may not exist, much like
the imaginary friend you had as a child except stocks don't talk to
you and tell you to put pinholes in daddy's condoms.
So how do I make money with stocks?
If you're like most people, you don't.
But I'm not like most people.
That's what most people say.
stock marketís steeped in tradition, like the way they ring a
school bell which no one can hear to signal the close of the market
and how stocks are priced in Celsius instead of using
||Why do stock prices
If a lot of people want a particular
stock they offer to pay more money for it, which raises the price,
much like what happens on eBay when you try to buy a Margaret Keene
slipcover for the couch. On the other hand, if no one wants a stock
the price drops, which means you have worthless pieces of imaginary
paper filling your safe deposit box so youíll have to sell your
house and move in with the in-laws. In reality, a lot of other
factors come into play, including news about the economy, whether
Alan Greenspan farted and it sounded like ďI think Iíll raise
interest ratesĒ, and how the planets are aligned.
Who is this Alan Greenspan and why does the
market do whatever he says?
Heís the chief of the Federal
Reserve Bank. To people who invest in the stock market that makes
him God. This, of course, pisses the real God off, who as
retribution causes the market to fluctuate wildly. Think of it as
the eleventh plague.
Why is a person you buy stock from called a
This is what we call irony. Since a
stock broker receives a commission each time you buy or sell, they
make money even when youíre losing all yours. This means that in
the long run youíre the one whoís actually broker. But the stock
marketís steeped in tradition, like the way they ring a school
bell which no one can hear to signal the close of the market and how
stocks are priced in Celsius instead of using decimals. Brokers have
had that name for years so it continues, much like their calling
Whatís a bull market?
This is when the market keeps going up
and up, making people think it will never go down. It got this name
because those who arenít caught up in the frenzy are the only ones
who know this concept is bull.
And a bear market?
When stocks are on a downward trend
itís called a bear market. This is because most people, having
believed in the bull market, bought stock on margin, so once prices
go south they have to fork over money they donít have, or money
they canít bear to lose.
The Internet has brought
many improvements to our life, including e-mail, online auctions,
and the ability to look at porn without having to go into a store
and take the chance that someone you know will see you buy it. It
also made it possible for people to sit at home and trade stocks
24-hours a day.
||How can I find a
Through meticulous research, scouring
stock histories, watching the Financial News Network as much as
possible, and above all, looking for an Internet company that has a
name beginning with Ďií, Ďeí, or ďmyĒ and ending in
dot-com, especially if their business plan doesnít mention the
And a bad one?
Thereís no such thing as a bad
stock, only a misunderstood one.
I only have a few thousand dollars in the
market and it makes me crazy when it goes down. How does someone
like Bill Gates handle losing billions of dollars in a day?
Contrary to what most people think, Bill Gates is just like you
and I only infinitely richer and more cut-throat. A bad day in the
market is as difficult for him as it is for you, he just has
different ways of handling the stress. You go home and kick the dog;
he puts out another buggy version of Windows that crashes every five
minutes. At the end of the day you both feel much better.
Whatís buying on margin? Can I do that?
Sure. You can flush your money down
the toilet too.
Iíve been hearing a lot about day
trading. What is that?
The Internet has brought many
improvements to our life, including e-mail, online auctions, and the
ability to look at porn without having to go into a store and take
the chance that someone you know will see you buy it. It also made
it possible for people to sit at home and trade stocks 24-hours a
day in the hope that theyíll be the 1 in 100,000 who actually
makes money doing it.
If they do it all night, why is it called
Because they trade their day for the
opportunity to stare at a computer screen and eat Maalox.
Las Vegas. Youíll lose all your money there too but at least
youíll get to hear Wayne Newton, see showgirls who look like
RuPaul, eat 99-cent shrimp cocktails, and pretend youíre in the
||I know about the Dow
Jones Average, but whatís this Standard & Poor thing I keep
Itís an endearing term professional
stock traders use to describe the average person who invests in the
What are IPOs?
Idiots Purchasing Overpriced Stocks.
Can I do that?
If the shoe fitsÖ..
A friend told me penny stocks were a good
buy but when I asked my broker to recommended some he tried to sell
me ones that cost four bucks! What gives?
Your brokerís cheating you. Just kidding. Well, not really,
but in this particular case he isnít. These days any stock under
five bucks is called a penny stock. Face it, you canít buy
anything for a penny anymore. Penny candy costs a dime, penny
arcades charge a quarter a play, and Penny down the street charges,
well, letís just say the days of all you can eat for $10.95 are
I put my life savings in the stock market
and lost it all. For future reference, isnít there a more fun way
to lose my money?
Go to Las Vegas. Youíll lose all your money there too but at
least youíll get to hear Wayne Newton, see showgirls who look like
RuPaul, eat 99-cent shrimp cocktails, and pretend youíre in the
I love car racing and wanted to invest in
NASDAQ. My buddies at the body shop where I work laughed. Why?
NASCAR is car racing, NASDAQ is an acronym for the National
Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations, which is a
stock exchange very much like the New York Stock Exchange and the
American Stock Exchange. Of course, this has nothing to do with why
your buds were laughing. That was because they know you donít have
any money left to invest once you pay child support to both your
I have some stocks that were doing well
until the market took a nosedive a while back. Theyíve come back
up since then but Iím not sure at what point I should jump out the
Nowís as good a time as any.
Will you catch me?
No. If you wanted a safety net you
should have bought government bonds in the first place.
If youíre so smart, why arenít you
The world already has enough rich
people, what we really need is more smart ones. Now that you know
all about the stock market youíll be able to join the ranks of
either the rich or the smart. If youíre real lucky you can be like
Ben Stein and be both. Now run along. Donít you have a flabby
stock option to exercise or something?
©2000 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read
them instead of those goofy stock listings.