Dian's Column
Dian's Archive


Hope, Hope and Hope Some More

By Dian Vujovich

Funny thing about hope. It seems to be something we—or at least I– keep doing again and again no matter what the outcome.

For instance, the last two lines in my first blog of this year titled “January’s Effect” read: “My hope? That by the end of January 2009, there will be more positive market performance news to report than negative. ”

Well, so much for that hope.

As it turned out, the stock market’s performance this January has been the worst in the 113 years of the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s recorded history.

Down 8.84 percent for the month, let’s hope that’s not an indication of how the rest of the year will go, although the odds are against it. Based upon past performance, 75 percent of the time the way the Dow performs in January is an indication of how it will perform for the rest of the year. Looking back at the DJIA’s performance over the past 30 years, that January effect has been right-on in 26 of them, according to The Wall Street Journal.

And there I go again, using that word “hope” in the paragraph above. I’m beginning to think it might be the wrong word to use–particularly within the financial arena. Is it hope that makes our markets run in one direction or another? Makes us vote for one presidential candidate over another? Or the reason consumer confidence is at an all time low because we’ve have run out of hope? It’s also in the tank too, by the way.

In a Jan. 27, 2009 press release, The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index in January was at a historic low. The Index began in 1985 and using 100 as its base is now 37.7. If hope impacts all things seen and unseen on Wall Street as well as Main Street, it seems we’ve less hope today than we did last month. Or, in the past 29 years.

The Conference Board also publish something called The Expectations Index. It’s down too— from 44.2 in December to 43.0 in January.

Keep in mind; data in both cases is based on the responses of a survey of 5,000 households. Questions asked reflect their thoughts about short-term future economic conditions and include those regarding business, employment and income.

I’m not so sure 5,000 household responses are enough to reflect a true picture of what’s going on. But, the Consumer Confidence Index sure does get a lot of media coverage.

Back to that word “hope” again. In the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, “hope” can be either a verb or a noun. When used as an intransitive verb it means “to cherish a desire with anticipation.” For example, “to hope for a promotion.”

When used a transitive verb it means “to desire with expectation of obtainment: to expect with confidence: trust.” A synonym would be” expect.” As a noun its meaning is similar and gets back to trust and expectations.

Hope may indeed be the wrong word to use given the economic problems America faces today. But without it, what are we left with? Despair? Fear? Neither one of those will get us anywhere. So I’ll stick with hope and with any luck at all hope that our economy and markets improve going forward. Hum….luck. Now there’s something to hope for.

To read more articles, please visit the column archive.

[ top ]