Minnesota investors not panickingby Tom Weber, Minnesota Public Radio
Investors rode quite a roller coaster Tuesday as the Dow Jones Industrials plummeted more than 460 points at the opening. By the end of trading, the index had recovered all but 128 points, but see-sawed all day long. We wondered how Minnesotans were affected by the market's ups and downs.
St. Paul, Minn. — Felix Meschke woke up this morning, saw that foreign markets had tanked overnight, saw the Dow lose 450 points in the first few minutes of trading -- and did nothing.
"I personally am invested for the long run, and am not changing my portfolio at all," said Meschke.
Meschke invests his own money, and it seems he has a pretty good knowledge of how to do that since he teaches in the finance department at the University of Minnesota.
Part of Meschke's lack of alarm is his prespective on what 450 points really means, in a stock market worth more than 10,000 points.
"It's so ingrained that we look at the point changes of the Dow. The problem is, you artificially kind of make things more exciting than they actually are," said Meschke.
In the St. Paul skyway during the lunch hour, there weren't any huddled masses around TVs, watching for stock updates.
Among a handful of people having lunch, some were thinking about it and some weren't. And no one seemed anxious.
"I try to ride out that stuff, and I don't look at stuff on a day-to-day basis," said one person. "But I am thinking about doing some reallocation. I think the jury's out on exactly how hard and bad it's going to hit, and how long it's going to hit."
"I'm a student right now, so it doesn't really affect me that much," said another. "To be honest, I haven't really been following it."
"I've always been told to save money, so it hasn't changed anything. I make sure I can depend on what I'm making," said a third.
But try telling Barbara it doesn't affect her. The retired consultant, who didn't want her last name used, says most of her retirement portfolio is in stocks.
"It made me more uneasy because of the foreign markets going down," said Barbara. "If it was just us, I could say, 'Oh, it's just a blip.' But once the whole world reacts, it's like, 'Oh man, we're definitely in a world economy now.'"
But even with the uneasiness, Barbara's husband wasn't selling.
What they are doing is waiting for guests -- a relative who lives in Germany is coming to visit to take advantage of the low dollar and shop cheap.
Even the professionals had wide-ranging days.
One stockbroker who works in the skyway said he was so swamped with calls from customers wanting to buy or sell that he had no time for an interview.
But Jim Stattmiller of Feltl and Co. in Minneapolis did have the time, and said it was kind of a slow day.
He says he's been preparing his clients for a downturn for the past 18 months.
"A lot of my clients have been with me for quite a few years. We've been up and down, up and down," said Stattmiller. "If you can remember that the long-term picture is more important than what happens today, you don't get too wrapped up in this."
That said, Stattmiller says he's not sure the economy has bottomed out, and he'd probably be even more conservative in advising clients if he had the past few months to do over.
- All Things Considered, 01/22/2008, 5:20 p.m.