Musings from a Financial News Junkie

For nearly six months, as I’ve been comfortably ensconced in my home in northern NJ, just a few miles from NYC, I’ve been spending a lot of time with my new officemates—Sara, Andrew, Melissa and Dominic.

These people, who I’m with from Monday to Friday from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, aren’t my wife and children, nor are they my neighbors or friends that I can visit at a safe, social distance.

Rather, I’m spending quality time with the anchors and on-air personalities of CNBC, which I keep on in the background—oftentimes on mute—for most of the working day. In addition to providing a connection to the outside the world and keeping me up-to-date on the financial news, this habit allows me to see many of our agency’s clients who appear throughout the day to discuss how COVID-19 is impacting the economy and what investors should be thinking about and doing with their money.

With all the major stock indexes seemingly setting new highs every other day, viewership on CNBC—as well as other leading broadcast networks: Bloomberg, Yahoo! Finance and Fox Business—must be way up.

Flashback to 1999, the year that the Nasdaq went haywire and broke 5,000 for the first time.  (For comparison, the index is at nearing 12,000 as of close of day today.)

I distinctly remember walking into a bar after work with a colleague (remember, bars?!) and seeing Maria Bartiromo on the TV. No Major League baseball or NFL, but stocks and financial news. CNBC in a bar. With hindsight, it’s clear that watching financial news in a bar was a telltale sign of a frothy, overvalued stock market.

Looking back, it’s easy to see how we all got carried away with internet and tech stocks and why the bubble burst. I can’t help but make a comparison between what happened in 1999 and what is happening today as Apple breaks through the $2 trillion market capitalization mark and Tesla’s stock is worth more than world’s five largest automobile producers combined.

As everyone has been saying ad nauseam, “we are living in unprecedented times.”  The fact that the stock market continues its meteoric rise after its March lows despite record unemployment and countless businesses going under is certainly “unprecedented.”

Are we headed for another 1999-2000 internet bubble burst, followed by an even deeper recession?  Can the FANG stocks, Microsoft and Zoom continue at these eye-popping levels?

Inevitably  the market momentum will slow, and even reverse itself, but that doesn’t mean we are headed for another crash (I certainly hope not!), and there’s money to be made by those who invest wisely.

It’s important to stay abreast of developments by following the financial media—and it’s what we do for a living.

But, as much as I love watching my clients on Squawk Box at 8:00 am instead of commuting to work, I yearn for the days when I can see my “real” officemates again—in-person—and even go out with them for drinks after work.  But hopefully by the time that happens, the bar TVs will be tuned to ESPN with real fans in the seats as the Jets win their first AFC championship in 50 years.

Now, that would be unprecedented!

by Richard Dukas, CEO


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