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Amid the doom and gloom, a flash and another flash

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Rick Horowitz
March 27, 2009

It came to me in a flash.


This was unusual. More than unusual, actually—this was nearly unprecedented. When it comes to the world of economics, to the world of Wall Street and high finance, almost nothing comes to me in a flash—except for the daily discovery that I don’t have a clue.


I’m not sure that counts.


Anyway, this was something else again; this was financial insight of an entirely different order. A chance to turn my prospects around after so many months of merciless meltdown.


Naturally I wanted to share it with you. After all, we’re in this together, right? Why should I be the only one who profits from my being…a prophet?


Straws.


You heard me: straws. I’m going big into straws—they’re the world’s next huge growth sector.


The kind of straws people grasp at.


Look around you. Check your laptop. Read your paper. Tune into your favorite cable show. Or just eavesdrop on the conversation at the next table.


Everybody’s grasping at straws. It’s the new national pastime.


The People Who Keep Track of Things issue their latest monthly reports—sales of durable goods (whatever those are), sales of new homes, sales of existing homes, and you can hear people exhaling for the first time in weeks. They’re grasping at straws.


Are the new numbers wonderful? Hardly.


But they could have been worse. In fact, The People Who Predict Things about The People Who Keep Track of Things had expected them to be worse, and had said so, right out loud. So when the new numbers came in, and they were only, say, the second-worst numbers anyone had seen in the past who-knows-how-many years, instead of the first-worst…

Break out the Champagne! Perhaps, at long last, we’ve finally reached: The Bottom. Perhaps, at long last, the turnaround can begin.


Or maybe not.


But nobody wants to hear “Or maybe not.” And can you blame them?


So everyone’s grasping at those straws.


So I say it’s time to invest in straws. Let’s corner the straw market, and ride the tide of exploding straw demand to riches we’ve only dreamed about!


Or do you have a better idea? I don’t hear you having a better idea. I don’t…


Wait a second.


I feel a strange buzzing sensation in the general vicinity of my brain. Could it be—but it couldn’t be!—another flash of insight? But that’s totally unprecedented! There’s no way in the world I can be…

Yes! We need a new index.


It just came to me: We need a new market index. It’s hard enough these days for people to keep track of all the financial data that’s being thrown at them. There’s the good news. The bad news. The worse news. The even-worse news.


But what about this strange new category we’ve been dealing with so often lately? The news-that’s-bad-but-could-have-been-really-bad-so-it’s-almost-kind-of-good news?

What do we do with that?


We file it under Not Quite As Awful As We Feared.


Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the NQAAAWF Index! You can thank me later.


Two flashes in one day.


I think I need a nap.


Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at rickhoro@execpc.com.

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