The Stock Market: A New Game?What, exactly, is "normal" when it comes to assessing the Great Recession's stock market and economy? The diversity of opinions was the subject of "Searching For True North" (Cover Story, Oct. 5), a debate that spilled over to the responses we got. Readers argued for and against the view that a low-growth, low-return world is the "new normal"—with one commenter suggesting that any idea of normal, new or old, is bogus. —Roben Farzad
Both market theories—the "new normal" and the "massive reversion to historical patterns"-could be right in the long run. From 1900 through 1984 there were three long stretches (15 to 18 years each) where conventional wisdom was that the secular bull markets were dead. Each was eventually followed by a strong upswing in stock prices. The current "long stretch" of dismal returns seems to be another one of those periods.
Robert J. ParishJUPITER, FLA.
There's another view of "normal" that has come out of the crisis stronger than ever: that "normal" doesn't exist at all, that the belief in market equilibrium is part of the kit bag of ideas—including the efficient market and rational expectations—that have been effectively undermined.
Posted on TheDeal.comby Editor in ChiefRobert Teitelman
The article says "the sacred texts of investing need to be rewritten." But a careful study of Security Analysis or The Intelligent Investor (both by Benjamin Graham, the father of value investing) will help inoculate the student against the nonsense that gets passed off as investment wisdom.
Matt NellansFORT MYERS, FLA.Why Russia's Promise May Be Illusory"The Peril and Promise of Investing in Russia" (In Depth, Oct. 5) gives a misleading impression of the nation's "140 million voracious consumers." Russia's population is aging relatively rapidly, poverty is high, and the middle class is small. Figures for disposable household income are skewed by a small group of very wealthy Russians.
James ThomassenAUSTIN, TEX.Downsized Doesn't Necessarily Mean LeanRegarding "Business is Lean, Fit, and Ready to Grow" (Business Outlook, Oct. 5): Company headcounts, payrolls, and budgets may be smaller than they were in previous years. But little does not mean lean. Lean means having less waste and more muscle.
Tom PryorANTEGO, TEX.A Broader Measurement of the Best BrandsWhy did you use only sales and earnings to choose the "100 Best Global Brands" (Special Report, Sept. 28)? Why not also consider a corporation's adverse impacts on the environment, humans, and animals?
Margaret HurleyROCHESTER, N.Y.Andy Stern's Concerns: What About Taxes?Regarding "Union Leader Andy Stern on the Future of Big Labor" (FaceTime, Sept. 28): What a caring guy the SEIU's Andrew Stern is to be concerned about the health aide who lost her family ranch because of medical bills. Apparently he doesn't have the same compassion for those who've lost the family farm because of out-of-control property and estate taxes. Where is his voice on this issue?
Debra Beetem LaRochePHOENIX