The thing about the stock market is that I know next to nothing about it. Everything I know comes almost directly from the movie Trading Places in which Dan Akroyd trades places with Eddie Murphy who proves that his "street smarts" make him an instinctive business man. This movie, I'm guessing, does not accurately display or explain how the stock market functions. The fact that I haven't seen it since I was about 13 and don't remember it very well takes away from what I may have learned from it. I seem to remember them being on a train and Jamie Lee Curtis pretending to be a Swedish Girl for no apparent reason and then some guy dresses up like an ape is molested by a real ape. If that's what the stock market is actually like then maybe I'm more interested than I thought.
Unfortunately yesterday I became something of an expert. I had no choice. I hate to admit it but I have some investments (because my dad thought it a smart way to use my Paper Route money even though I still think that G.I. Joe action figures would have been cooler). Yesterday I had to sell out one of my funds (it involves a car and paying it off and dropping my insurance rates but I won't bore you with the details) so I had to watch the market to make sure that I wasn't doing anything stupid.
So firstly I called my dad and was like... "What do I do?"
I knew three words: Dow, NASDAQ and Jones. I didn't know (and still don't know) what any of them meant but was convinced that they were important. My dad informed me that I had to watch the Dow Jones. I could do that. Now I knew that there were scrolling tickers at the bottom of some channels on television. Aside from indicating which channels to skip over I heard once that they have something to do with the stock market so I decided to turn on the TV. The only problem with that is that the TV is in a different room from my computer with internet access so how would that work? How could I keep my eye on my finances and read the latest Not My Desk article at the same time? Simple: I couldn't.
Then it hit me. I remembered that when I first got AOL Instant Messenger that there was this silly little stock market thing at the bottom which was the second thing I disabled right after the *bliiiiiing* sound effect when someone sends you a message.
So I went into my IM preferences and enabled the stock ticker. Immediately it sprung to life with a bunch of funny symbols and letters. But what did it all mean? Was this even in English? I quickly spotted one very large problem... there was no Dow Jones! I scratched my chin contemplatively and wondered what to do. So I called my dad again and reported that the Dow Jones had gone missing. He informed me that it may be abbreviated as "DJIA." Great, I found it and I looked.
Hmmmmm. Good. I know that "+" is good and "-" is bad... right? 168.9 is a lot. If I had 168.9 dollars I'd have a lot of money but we're not talking about dollars. At least I don't think we're talking about dollars. So it's 168.9 stock market... ing... units. Well it's more at least and I know that's good. More is better. I know that sometimes people say "less is more" but I don't think I've ever believed that and I wasn't about to start. In the case of money I don't think less has ever been more.
Great! +168.9. Great. *sigh* Now what? What do I do? Do I just sit here and watch? I can do that. So I begin to pass the time by IMing friends, reading the latest comedy sites, downloading games and all the other "work" that generally makes up my day before I can hang out and relax in the evening with friends.
I kept glancing back at the stock ticker: +172.6, +188.3, +201.4. I don't know how it worked but I was beginning to like it. All I knew (or at least assumed) was that the higher that green number got, the more money I had.
So as the number went up I would cheer. As it fell I would yell "Boooo!" at my computer screen. It was like watching a sporting even except that the score just seemed to go up and down arbitrarily and I couldn't make obnoxious comments like "Damnit, why aren't you accepting passes!" and "Put the puck in the net!" like I usually do.
After all was said and done the DJIA closed at +257.74. I felt victorious. I made a few hundred bucks and felt like celebrating. Today I checked the Dow Jones again (because I left the ticker on) and found that I was interested in what it was doing. I'm sure that any interest in what the Stock Market is doing is just carrying over from yesterday.
Today the stocks plummeted -93.44. Ha! The fools. They obviously don't know how to play the market. I played yesterday and won, these fools that played today lost. Here's my advice to anyone who isn't a grizzled veteran of Wall Street like myself: Buy low and sell high.