The Great Barometer

Someone once asked me, "Why mention the markets in the face of the devastation from Hurricane Katrina?" (search) My reply: "Because I think they're looking past the devastation from Katrina."

Some of you might be surprised that the markets are as emotional as human beings. They are, after all, a compilation of human beings. So they respond to events, just like you and me, but in telling ways.

Because quite rightly — and here's where the cynics are correct — quite selfishly, they look past the moment to seizing opportunities after the moment. And what's been remarkable following these markets since the "moment" of Katrina is how much they've stabilized, indeed, how much they've improved.

The Dow is now 200-plus points higher than where this started. Oil is more than 7 bucks down from its highs. And gasoline is more than 30 cents a gallon from its highs.

The knee-jerk feeling of doom and gloom for our economy has been replaced with hope and good will for our economy, and more importantly, for our people.

The markets aren't always right. But they have a better track record than politicians and prognosticators. Remember it was the markets signaling a turnaround in our economy soon after September 11 (search), while almost every expert had given up on the notion.

They are our great barometer and that's why I mention them. Not only because they are sometimes the reflection of greed, but more often the reflection of something more lasting: hope.

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