8/19/2005

CommentaryThe Bear Days of August

Bears are too pessimistic to take an extended
vacation. Only bulls spend the summer at the
beach. The resulting imbalance puts downward
pressure on the market: while the bull's away,
the bear will play. For happier times we must
await the bulls' tanned return. Our day will come.

Last week I discussed my bullfight passion.
Now I want to take up the question of whether
it is cruelty to animals.

A fighting bull is very different from its domestic
cousins. Its ancestors were the wild aurochs that
roamed free millennia ago. Today it is raised in
captivity for the bullfight, but it has never been
tamed. When it is separated from the herd, its
natural instinct is to attack. It is a magnificent
physical specimen, weighing over half a ton,
yet able to run as fast as a racehorse over short
distances. Its horns are the stuff of nightmares. 



Were it not for the bullfight, this grand animal
would be extinct. It has no other use to man.

Thus the operative question is whether the life
of a fighting bull is better than no life at all,
because those are the only two choices.

Consider the life of beef cattle: Weaned at 6 to 8
months, castrated, confined in a feedlot until a
year old, and then slaughtered.

Consider the life of a fighting bull: Born and
raised on a vast tract of land, fed and watered
but otherwise left alone in a herd, and then after
four years of age sent into the arena.

There it is poked with sharp objects, bloodied,
challenged, and eventually killed. That sounds
cruel. But consider:

First, by law it must die within 20 minutes. This
accords with what we have learned about "hot
blood" from soldiers in battle, that wounds
often aren't painful at first.

Secondly, even when it comes, I don't think pain
bothers bulls the way it bothers us. Our human
consciousness tends to add to our pain. If we
were in the bull's position, we would be thinking
"Why are they doing this to me?" and "Oh no, I'm
going to die." Those thoughts would intensify
our agony. But the bull seems to take it in stride.
He is focused on what is happening around him.
He doesn't brood about it.

Would a fighting bull be better off if he had never
lived? I don't think so. Except for the last half
hour, which isn't as bad as it looks, he has a
great life. That's not a bad tradeoff, when you
think about it.

Death awaits us all. How it happens is important
at the time, but in truth death is a small part of life.
The worst thing about it is the pain it causes our
loved ones. Surely that does not apply to bulls.

If we avoid the trap of anthropomorphizing, it
seems to me that being a fighting bull is a good
living (irony intended).

Even so, isn't it somehow immoral for humans to
enjoy a bullfight? That idea is surely Puritanical
priggery, the fear that someone, somewhere is
having a good time.

The pleasure of those who love the bullfight
deserves room in the equation.

No doubt you're all tired of this subject. I promise
there'll be no more of my bull.

Nor will I now move on to bear-baiting, though
the idea does have a certain appeal. I'm talking
about market bears, of course, not real ones.
 

The Market Day by Day

This was the GTI's fourth consecutive week in
the red, but the cumulative damage is only 5.5%.
In the old days we used to lose that much before
breakfast.

Returns for the Week:
Gilder Technology Index (GTI):  - 0.9%
Nasdaq Composite Index (NSD):  - 1.0%
S&P 500 Index (S&P):  - 0.9%

 

Historical Returns GTI    NSD  S&P 
1997 (est'd) 21% 22% 31%
1998 (est'd) 48% 40%  27%
1999 284% 86%  20%
2000 - 44% - 39% - 10%
2001  - 43% - 21%  - 13%
2002 - 56% - 32% - 23%
2003  130% 50% 26%
2004   3% 9%    9%
2005 to Date  - 1.9% - 1.8% 0.6%
Avg for 8+ yrs  9.7%  6.0% 5.9%
Last 52 wks 22%  16% 11%
Since the high
of 3/06/00
- 79% - 58% - 20%
Since the low
of 10/09/02
248% 92% 57%

Makeup of the GTI:
The GTI companies are those "Telecosm
Technologies" in the Gilder Technology
Report whose stock is readily available to
investors. If a company is not traded on the
NYSE, AMEX, or NASDAQ National Market,
it is not in the GTI.

This past week there were 28 companies in
the GTI.

Advances vs. Declines:
Among the GTI stocks this week, there were
9 up, 18 down, 1 unchanged.

 

The Year to Date



The GTI's Origin (1/1/99) to the Present



The GTI's Weekly Change, Last 52 Weeks




Trailing 3-Month Returns, Last 52 Weeks

 

Volatility, Trend, Recovery:

As an indication of volatility, this table shows a
verage weekly change in the GTI
each year:
Year Ave Wkly Change
1999 4.2%
2000 7.7%
2001 8.5%
2002 6.8%
2003 4.3%
2004 3.4%
2005 to Date 2.1%

As an indication of trend, this table shows
number of up weeks for the GTI each year
:


Year
Number of Up Weeks
As a %
1999 39 of 52 75%
2000 24 of 52 46%
2001 22 of 52 42%
2002 19 of 52 37%
2003 31 of 53 58%
2004 28 of 52 54%
2005 to Date 15 of 33 45%

The GTI fell 94.1% from its March 6, 2000,
high to its October 9, 2002, low.  Click here
for the details of its long recovery attempt.