From The New York Times:

The stock market will see bigger gains in the immediate future than at any other period of its history, and except for minor fluctuations the present high level of prices will be constant for years to come, according to a statement by Dr. Charles Amos Dice, professor of business organization at Ohio State University and author of “New Levels in the Stock Market,” just issued by the McGraw-Hill Publishing Company.

The new level of prices, according to Dr. Dice, is not fictitious, and common and easy explanations which attribute the tremendous advances since 1923 merely to ch—

Did I forgot to mention that this article is from 13 October 1929?  Or that the aptly named Dr. Dice’s book was published the week of Black Thursday?  I considered a different approach—in which this post would’ve been a sequel to this one—but I didn’t want to play this one for laughs.

Like Timothy, I’m not equipped to understand what exactly the market’s up to.  No matter how patiently DeLong explains the situation, I’ll be lost by the second sentence.  But I still feel it.

It’s on the porch.

It’s through the window.

It’s in the hall.

It’s behind the door.

It’s under the bed.

What do you do when the robber you fear morphs into a monster beneath your bed?  You can stop home invasions with moxie and a baseball bat, but no amount of violence can cure a bed of monsters.  Put differently: I have a rational fear of a McCain presidency, but I can alleviate it with a steady diet of polls and pundits; whereas I have an irrational fear of a catastrophic market collapse that can’t be tamped by wit or wisdom.

Not that I don’t try: I dutifully click on the links forwarded by various trusted authorities and read their sources’ take on the state of the economy, but as we all well know, those takes differ.  Economist A declares W about X indicates a shaky 1,400.  Economist B avails himself of Y and Z to demonstrate the fundamental soundness of 1,400,000.  But none of these authorities can answer my simple question: Did we have our Black Tuesday already?  Or was that our Black Thursday, and we still have a Black Monday to look forward to before the main event?

So I decided to see what was said in the weeks prior to the 29 October 1929, to see if there were some equivalent to the presentiments of financial doom in residence beneath my bed.  The results fail to comfort.  There are the odd personifications of the market’s wares:

Stocks of all sorts milled about in a curiously confused fashion yesterday.

There are the half-finished attempts to impress:

If all the margin calls sent out of Wall Street Saturday morning were placed end to end, the line would stretch a great distance.

There are the Palin-like reassurances whose confusions border on poetic:

The stock market bobs up and down in a manner that must be terrifying to the fledgling.  Yet in the face of the ancient contention that what goes up must come down, the bears are having a hard time in getting a toe-nail’s grip—even for a day.  Up the pike will come the bulls in a mad rush and teh crowd can hardly see the score board for the dust.  The shorts hardly stay in long enough to get squeezed.

There are the McCain-like declarations about the fundamentals of our economy:

“There is no reason to feel unduly alarmed,” one leading banker declared.  “We have made careful inquiries and have failed to discover that anyone has been seriously hurt.  There is no danger of a panic because the economic position of the country remains sound.”

There are many editors who share Colbert’s fears:

And there are many, many examples of hubris:

We can only repeat that business is now too big and diversified, and the country too rich, to be influenced by stock market fluctuations.  For the past six years the stock market has not been the barometer of business it was when things were not so sound and prosperous as they are now.

All of which leads me to believe that at least we won’t be sucker-punched by bears before the bulls maul us.