Scandals, not attacks to blame for market lapse

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 9, 2002

With the stock market teetering up and down the scale this past week and yesterday, many people have blamed September 11 terrorist attacks for the slump in the market. But local financial analysts beg to differ, citing low consumer confidence and scandals involving telecommunications industry as the main cause.

According to Scott Patterson, investment advisor for People’s Bank, “September 11 is behind us. There are two things that’s affecting the market now – consumer confidence is down as a result of account expense issues facing Zerox, WorldCom and Enron. The other is the economy is not rebounding. Unemployment went to 5.9 percent.”

Tommy Boyd, investment advisor for A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc., agrees with Patterson, explaining investors in the market are in a bad mood because of a continuing pile on of negative news connected with scandals involving Zerox, Enron, and WorldCom.

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The stock market is normally connected to the direction of the economy, he said.

“If the economy is growing, then the stock will increase in time. Right now, the stock market is apparently disconnected because we are seeing economic recovery, but the market is looking the other way,” Boyd explained.

On Friday, the Nasdaq soared 345 points. By Monday afternoon, the market had dropped considerably. Patterson said historically, the market drifts after a holiday, but suggested people probably found some bargains on Friday.

He said the market’s problem may have started with Sept. 11, but it has also been affected by the war on terrorism and the Middle East conflicts.

“The bigger problem is investors’ disgust with corporate greed,” Boyd said.

The latest corporate accounting scandal involves WorldCom, whose interests include No. 2 long-distance telephone company MCI. The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a civil fraud suit against WorldCom, with the Nasdaq Stock Market plans to delist the company’s shares, which have plummeted from $63

in 1999 to 25 cents Friday.

News like that caused Selma investors to take another look at their investment portfolio.

Attorney Michael Jackson, who has invested heavily into technology stocks said he has experienced the sting of the corporate accounting issues.

“The scandals with Enron and now WorldCom have really put a dent in my investment portfolio. I don’t like looking at my statements anymore. I think the penalty for white collar crime should be stiffen,” he said.

Despite the slump in the market, Jackson said he’s in the market for the long haul.

And Boyd agrees Jackson’s philosophy, writing in his weekly business column, “the most successful investors take a long-term view- at least three to five year – rather than expecting stellar returns overnight or panicking when the value of their securities decline.”

No one knows when the stock market will rebound. It’s very likely in our opinion, that the market will reconnect with the economy sooner than later, Boyd added.