Betting on the Market

Your General Reactions...

What did you think about this FRONTLINE report on how America seems to be wagering its future on Wall Street....?

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Dear FRONTLINE,
It is hard to imagine a more one-sided presentation than thisshow. Virtuallyall of the examples were the most extreme cases. You implied thatthe fellowwho did not want to invest his retirement in a bank was foolhardy,refusingto stick with something safe. You neglected to note that he wascorrect.Investing in a bank account is sure to lose money, that's notsafe. Why notpresent people who were prudent investors as a model for whatpeople who haveto invest should do? Next time, try for a little balance.

McauliffeW@aol.com


Dear FRONTLINE,
I applaud this show for the most part. The selection ofPeter Lynch and Garrett Van Wagoner was a great example of the difference in investing mentality as it has changed in recent years. Both approaches have their place and fit certain needs. I have owned, and in the case of the Van Wagoner funds, still own some of both companies.

There is something that I feel you failed to mention. With respect to the Iomega story, just as is the case with many other issues, you never mentioned the people who played this stock short. Lots of people make money when the market drops too!

Thanks for the hard work on this show.

Sincerely,
Stan Kay


Dear FRONTLINE,
Your recent "Frontline" report on the stock market was excellent. I really enjoyed it. It started me to thinking about investmenting. I have recently divorced which has depleted my savings. I own my home and vehicle. I am a Full-time employee and persuing a B.S. degree in Computer Engineering(presently a Sophomore at a community college). I will have to take an educational leave from my full-time employeer to finish my Junior and Senior years. I am really interested in starting to invest in the stock market, because I realize that putting money in a bank savings will not stay ahead of inflation. This episode of "Frontline" has further expanded my intrest to get started on the stock market.

Thanks, I'll keep watching.

Arthur Frank Shoffner, Jr.
Corinth, MS
fshoffnr@tsixroads.com


Dear FRONTLINE,
A sobering look at what truly moves the stock markets...Psychology of the masses! This program should be "Must viewing" for ALL INVESTORS. Coming on the heels of Chmn Greenspan's comments in the Fall,it brings into focus the purpose for the sole existence for the "Markets"...i.e.Capital Formation and Investment...NOT speculation! While the hour passed much too quickly...I hold hope that a near future program could be devoted to how to protect gains already made through long-term, value oriented investing..i.e. Asset allocation, Foreign Markets exposure,Etc.Thanks for a well done presentation!

Palm City, FL


Dear FRONTLINE,
OK, it is an important topic and you spread some caution that is much needed. You covered the source of the stock inflation well, (though you coul have drawn closer parallels with the Roarin' Twenties).

But you did a better job of the "Betting" than on the "Market". You spoke about the clothes and not the Emperor.

Next time, tell the folks out in TV-land WHY the market is a bit different than Las Vegas, that there is supposed to be a relationship between the value of the outstanding stock and the assets that a company has, such as profits, market share, patents, property, workforce, sales force etc.

Your otherwise excellent review needed this background to make one believe the oft-repeated refrain of "What goes up must come down." Why must come it down? Because, after a huge run-up, the assets of the company (or of a whole lot of companies) are soon no longer worth anything like as much as the face value of the stock.

Without this knowledge, the Wall-Street Casino is vulnerable to the observations of any passing child who is capable of recognizing nudity.
Keep up the good work.

Jim Pawley
Madison, WI
jbpawley@facstaff.wisc.edu


Dear FRONTLINE,
I am on the younger end of the baby boomers,(34 years.)I was very interested in your program on the stock market, I to have the majority of my savings in the market. However I feel like all you were trying to accomplish in this program was to scare people! what would have been a lot more beneficial, was to dedicate some portion of the show to indicate other options or solutions to avoiding doom, But I guess eventual doom was your main message.

Matt DeCleene
Marietta, Georgia
matt3562@aol.com


Dear FRONTLINE,
Although at age 50 I did not live through the Great Depression, the scenario described by Joe Nocera that exists now sent chills up my back just because of what I have heard and read about that time. The general public is getting into the market with little or no experience behind them. The rapid rise of stock values unsettles more that a few experts . . . YIPES! When the correction comes it could devastate the economy.

Robert Markle
Grand Haven, MI
bobmarkle@novagate.com


Dear FRONTLINE,
The story of "How America Is Wagering its future on Wall Street" was one of the most interesting stories that PBS has shown since the "The Revenge of the Nerds." I thoroughly was fascinated by the story because it brought some reflections upon myself.

For so long, I have contemplated investing in the stock market. One of the fear factors for me not to invest in it was primarily the "Lack of control" in the investment. With the latest craze of mutual funds. I have constantly been told that these types of investments are diverse and the safest in the market. However, by watching this particular program gave me insite of how the mutual fund market is not so much safe after all.

Granted Peter Lynch's approach to the market was quite fascinating in that it was more practical and logical. However, as the show indicated his approach has been overlooked by new mutual fund managers who have more speculative ideas then practical ideas.

Its scary!!!

I thoroughly enjoyed the show and hope that it will air again sometime soon.


Dear FRONTLINE,

I am 62 years old, have been in the market since I was 21.

The show was a eye opener. The young people are in this for all the wrong reasons. Hoping to make the fast buck is NOT the way. As Peter said you need to buy good stocks and hold on to them as long as all the reasons you bought them are in place. Being unable to know the name of your stock and what they do is not the way to go.

God help us.

Richard Hunsader
Dorchester WI
hunsader@pcpros.net


Dear FRONTLINE,
This show was interesting and timely -- with a third of the money coming into some mutual funds coming from 401k plans Americans really are betting their retirement on the stock market. When the baby boomers start to retire in mass in about 10 to15 years and the money starts being withdrawn the market will see very bleek days.

This will occur right when these retirees need it the most. The implications for our economy will be potentially devastating. The good news is we should have a few good years still left in the market till then.

Mark King
MiAMI ,FL
SUNKING@ WOW.COM


Dear FRONTLINE,
I thought the show was interesting but not completely accurate in portraying the current market. The statement that was made about the market having to drop 50% to reach it's historic norm or average is misleading. It's true that the average return is slightly lower than what it should be but the P/E is about where it should be in reflecting the market's valuation. If by norm it was meant the average historic market valuation, that may be true but it doesn't really mean much. A high P/E would be a truer measure since it would more readily reflect an expensive market.

People who buy a stock or mutual fund buying that doesn't reflect a stocks truer value relative to its earnings are playing a risky game that could affect the rest of the market if it's widespread. However, stocks and funds that do this usually adjust on their own as was the case with Iomega and some funds that have crashed and haven't recovered. Buying a stock without researching its fundamentals will inevitably result in losses as I learned the hard way.

I find it hard to believe that the couple profiled sold their Microsoft stock in favor of two agressive funds and stated that the funds are supposed to double by August. Their dream house is not likely to become a reality if they continue to gamble rather than invest for the long term.

I think the theme of the show was expressed well by the segments shown but I don't think it reflects the attitude of most investors. It does appear the investors interviewed feel the market is a sure thing and it's become a religion for them. I don't think they were in the market as recently as 1994 or they'd have a different outlook. I found some of the comments interesting but it's focus on that part of the market's investors who are aggressive and only bet on the high flyers to make it big in the short term are not representative of most investors.

The Dow at about 3600 may be the market average and give the impression that it's overvalued but the market is not as expensive as that inference based on company earnings.

John Costa
Newport, Rhode Island
jctwo@edgenet.net


Dear FRONTLINE,
I watched with rapt interest your program about Baby-Boomers investing in the Stock Market. I also watched in horror as I heard Mutual Fund managers discussing buying and selling stocks without thoroughly researching the companies that they were about to pour money into, or with the primary technique of buying and then selling the same stock in a short period of time. I am a member of an investment club and am learning how to invest my money in individual stocks with a "tried and true" technique of research, number-crunching, and common sense. This approach is recommended and supported by the NAIC (National Association of Investment Clubs). We thoroughly research the industry, the company, the management, seriously look at the previous performance of the stock, as well as take into account a wide range of other factors. If Boomers were taught about this way of investing: searching for a company that they really want to OWN and SUPPORT for a long period of time, (it is "investing", after all!), then I believe that there would be no need for concern over the future health of the stock market. I would like to see a program espousing a "common sense" approach to investment. A program that would teach potential investors about the NAIC philosophies would be extremely educational and helpful. Hopefully, boomers will learn that it takes time and work to build a solid nest egg for retirement. If Boomers learned to put their money into well-managed companies with valuable products to sell, these companies would grow and prosper (along with stockholers' investments), while "feeding frenzies" would become a thing of the past.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Kimberlea S. Smith
Norman, OK


Dear FRONTLINE,
I was dissapointed the show didn't take a particular position. The theme seemed "Yes the market has done well these past few years and historically, but it might go down and who knows for how long." I have invested because for the individual no other place really exists. Further I don't believe we can rely on trends because the period of 1900-1930 was like no other period, and neither was the periods1930-1940, 1940-1950, 1950- 1982, and 1982 to now. Each period has its own unique qualities. I have often pondered the same thought as put forth at the end of the show, what happens when the baby boomers retire? Do they begin to pull their money out which will precipitate a slow decline? Or are they educated enough to leave a large portion of their savings invested?

ALLEN PECHENIK
BERKLEY, MICHIGAN
ALDEB@CONCENTRIC.NET


Dear FRONTLINE,
While the first 20 minutes was a fair historical review, the remaining time was superficial and unprofessionally produced. Your message was one of impending diaster. While you properly introduced Lynch, Cramer, and van Wagoneer, little information was given about Fleckenstein. Was he or any of the others that so generously warned us of our fate a major short in the market at the time of filming? If so, I think you are negligent not to inform the viewers of this serious conflict of interest!

Paul Auclair
Fulton, MD
PAuclair@aol.com


Dear FRONTLINE,
Enjoyed the show. I am very fearful for many of the individuals shown, and agree with the comment that "blood money" seems to be at risk here. At this point, Jan '97, it seems the signs of a significant correction are visable. The market to many is being kept afloat by the seasonal contributions to pension funds and 401k matching money (and people's bonuses. As this short term flow subsides, the risk is severe. I pray dearly for those on your show to exercise reason and prudence with their hard earned money!

Emilio D'Arduini
NY, NY
edarduini@aol.com


Dear FRONTLINE,
Tonight's Frontline was very timely for me. I'm 54 and am just experiencing slight inklings toward "geting into" the market. I found much of what was presented to be helpful in at least getting me focused on the nature of the market. Since I have no experience, tonight's show has provided me with a view of the stock market that has motivated me to do a little more thinking and a lot more study before I proceed.

Thankfully Yours,
Gary A. Podlesnik
Latrobe, Pa.
amking@earthlink.net


Dear FRONTLINE,
I awaited last Tuesday's Frontline on Investing with great anticipation. However, once again, your show leaned toward the senationalism,without a major premise or theme. What was the major point that you had hoped each viewer might take away from your show? -- Some investors are crazy, risk takers? Many investors will likely lose everthing when the upcoming "adjustment" comes? Be careful when investing (no tips offered, however)? -- I am increasingly concerned by your lack of clear show objectives and how this may be serving to confuse the average viewer.

Thank you for your time.

Rick Roberts
Overland Park, Kansas
Rick5253@AOL.com


Dear FRONTLINE,
Excellent program!!! Wonderful web-site!! Both are a must view and must read for ALL INVESTORS. It is important to realize that the monentary policy by the FED (Federal Reserv Board) is the cause of the boom and bust cycle i.e. business cycle. The 1929 crash was a result of an easy money policy. For a detail understanding of the 1920's and 1930's an example book by Liberty Press is "Economics and the Public Welfare" by Benjamin Anderson.

Frederick Von Hayek has written in great detail on the relationship between the monetary policy and business cycle. Many people have the false believe that capitalism and/or free markets are the cause of the business cycle; when in fact it is always government involvement in the credit and banking system creates this cycle. Milton Freeman wrote on this topic but not in as much detail as Von Mises or Hayek.

The most important aspect of understanding of Hayek and one of his key points is : The greater the increase of the money supply, the deeper the bust cycle or recession that follows ! By examing M2 money supply data, logic follows that our next recession is going to be worse the 1979-1981 recession.

Keep up the good work !!

Northville, Michigan


Dear FRONTLINE,
I thought that the sobriety factor that you presented throughout the program has been long overdue for the masses of new investors. However, I feel that you should have mentioned that a properly balanced and rotated portfolio will not suffer from the wild downturn that aggressive equity portfolios will experience. Prudent investing techniques will always serve the portfolio holder well. Also, people who are betting the whole ball of wax on stocks alone are not informed investors but mere gamblers as your program implied. Define your risk tolerance and construct your total portfolio accordingly. I am fearful that your scenario of what newer investors are going to do in a good size correction is correct; mass withdrawal and exiting without clear thinking due to poor portfolio construction of composition and allocation. One fact not discussed is that with the explosion of mutual funds, there has been a huge increase in fund managers; most of whom were not even managing money as short as October, 1987. When one looks at the performances of most funds in 1994, we are left with the thought that this was the toughest of market conditions that most of these new rooky managers have experienced in their short fund managing tenures!

When and if a huge correction does occur, +20%, it will sure be interesting to watch the ill prepared and aggressive investors run for the hills. In the meantime, I will have the means of picking up some terrific values all the down to when it bottoms because I am prepared yet very active by staying within my defined investments parameters and not going for the "BIG" hit by being overly aggressive.

K. Michael Henderson


Dear FRONTLINE,
Thanks for another quality report. However, I believe that you focused on too many people who were in it for the fast buck. At 31, I'm am the first of the Generation Xers and, judging by this report, would seem to have more sense than many boomers when it comes to the market. The majority of investors have neither the knowledge nor time to play the market in order to pave their futures with gold. They need to either recognize that fact before it's too late or invest in a truly sure thing, like the hot "lottery fund" that I am counting on to pay for my retirement!

T. Britt
Atlanta, GA
flitterbic@mindspring.com


Dear FRONTLINE,
Your show on the stock market, and the upcomming bear market was very informative. However some investment options were omitted. If you dollar cost average your investments, and spread out your investing over time, you minimize much of your risk. Also, proper diversification for your portfolio is essential.

William Wangerien Jr.
Atlanta , GA
billmdee@mindspring.com


Dear FRONTLINE,
I enjoyed this episode very much and hope that all the positve response that you get encourages you to expand this episode to a multi-faceted exploration of this topic. I belive that this topic is increasingly important given both the realities that people are begining to face towards their retirement and the current debate over Social Security restructuring. As thorough a job that Frontline did on this topic, it is my belief that you only scraped the surface in how people are viewing the market, its performance and volitility, and their future. Keep up the good topics and indepth probing.

John F. Simon, Jr.
Charlotte NC


Dear FRONTLINE,
I was sorry to see your awful Frontline special on "betting on Wall Street." What a hatchet job! The program left impression that all investors are insane gamblers ignorant of the risks involved.

"Grant-ed", a cold shower on "irrational exuberance" in the market is often welcome and needed. But why such a one-side horror show from PBS?

Please tell us who sponsored this production? Could there be some connection between agendas of the sponsor and/or the producer and the current debate over what to do about social (in)security? I say all this as one who in the past has ordinarily enjoyed PBS frontline specials. This was a travesty.

Will S. Harrop


Dear FRONTLINE,
People of my age (34) have no choice but to bet on the market... with pensions and social security being essentially non existent by the time we retire... and traditional savings vechicles like savings accounts and CD's not even returning enough to keep pace with inflation the only way to have a resonable chance to retire comfortably is to invest....One other note I believe that once the majority of the Baby Boomers reach retirement age and are removing all this money they have been pouring into the market and also recieving Social Security benefits the economy (and the market with it) are in for a period of long downward trend....

Frontline once again has taken an issue of paramount importance and brought clarity and substance keep up the good work

Warren Knight
Southington CT
WHKSSK@aol.com


Dear FRONTLINE,
The couple that have their life savings invested in small technology stocks just blew my mind. She didn't even know the name of the companies. These type of investors deserve what they will eventually get.....flamed. Everyone wants something for nothing. Good sound research into companies will pay off in the long run. Too many of the people on this program were looking for a get-rich-quick scheme. It doesn't work that way. Wall Street has thousands of bankrupt investors over the last century to attest to that.

Grove City, Ohio


Dear FRONTLINE,
Last night, once again, I found myself grateful and disturbed by you and PBS for at least attempting to tell one of the stories that few seem willing to hear. I think your program was balanced if not, regretably, superficial. I do not mean this as "criticism" but wish, sincerely, adamantly, that you could expand on several key points of your expose. Specifically, I think the a much greater analysis of (1) the Motley Fool phenonmenon, (2) the comparison and contrast of Lynch, Vinik, and the San Francisco superstar du-jour, and (3) the fundamentals underlying the crash in 1987 would be appropriate, plus (4) what the stock market has really returned, adjusted for inflation, for different investment horizons starting from different beginning points.

You tried to explore each of these but, in this time of heady returns fueled by the lack of oxygen at the higher atmospheres of 25, 40, 80, and "infinite" P/E ratios, a brilliant analyst, like Grant, comes off as "carping." How many of yours viewers, do you think, wonder how spectalularly Magellan might have done had Peter Lynch not stepped down? Its personality that creates value, right? Those of us who spent the last year or two in cash on the side-lines, look kind of stupid when we try discuss any of this with the proud owner of a mutual fund orbiting the moon.

As in every Frontline, there is the haunting image of some, probably decent, human being about to be conflagrated by tragedy: in "Betting of the Market" this is, obviously, the family in upstate New York. I hope, like some of the more "responsible" TV talk-shows, as you were exploiting their stupidity to help make your point, you also at least tried to provide some substantial financial counseling. I hope they "win" with the stock they cannot remember the name of, but you owe it to your viewers to disclose what the hell was going on behind the scenes between Frontline and this family. In this case, a follow-up six months later showing them loading their belongings in either (a) a new Mercedes or (b) a shopping cart will be no consolation if you and your loyal audience helped promote the outcome.

Sincerely,
Howard Lynn Hopffgarten
Washington, DC
Unfortunately, in this era of extrao


Dear FRONTLINE,
You asked me how I found your sight. I was channel hopping last night Jan 14/97 at 9:00 PM on Channel 14 and happened to see FRONTLINE-The program was frontline: Examines U.S. Stock Investments; profiles Garrett Van Wagoner, Peter Lynch. The Net site was mentioned at the end of the program. The site is absolutely excllent, and I spent over an hour downloading the entire site. You have a new listener. I will regularily access your site. I am new to the net. When writing this message I am unsure if I must hit enter when the printing goes beyond the end of the box at the right hand side. Does the page automaticall scroll? The line seems to go on forever, if I don't hit enter. I would appreciate this information very much, as I am not sure what to do. So much to learn! The graphs of the Bull and Bear Markets were particularily interesting and they print very well "live" to my color printer. (I don't know how to print to a file yet).I would suggest that an option be included that will let us print the graph with a white background. The graph reproduces perfectly, but uses a tremendous amount of black ink. Your users with color inkjet printers will love you. By the way the printer I use Hewlett Packard Deskjet 870 Cxi Professional Series, does an outstanding job downloading your material. The stories on TIMING were especially interesting to me, and I will be glad to receive the information you will send. hope this helps.


Dear FRONTLINE,
I just saw the above referenced program on channel 48 in Cincinnati, OH last night. I was saddened to see so many people throwing all of their money into one stock based on what others said to do. I was particularly upset with Sharon, who with her mother started an investment club, but OBVIOUSLY did not learn much from the experience. NAIC and all the investment clubs that I am aware of stress the importance of the following:

  1. doing your homework on a stock;
  2. look at companies with a minimum of 5 years history, preferably 10 years;
  3. look for the potential to double your money through price appreciation and dividends in 5 years (NOT NEXT WEEK OR MONTH)
  4. don't put all your eggs in one basket, diversify!

Sharon sold Microsoft and put all of her family's savings into two volatile tech stocks she couldn't even name, all because someone said it would double by August. I hope they do but would not be surprised if the prices fall.

Enjoyed the program. It should be required viewing for new investors to see all the things they shouldn't do.

Sharon L. Lindquist-Skelley
Dayton, OH
slls2@juno.com


Dear FRONTLINE,
Does anyone in their right mind think there are 50 million "investors" out there? They're gamblers, and God love them. Most will have their retirement savings wiped out, will then have to earn wages in their seventies with taxes going to social security, thereby saving the system. Of course the "bookies," the stockbrokers, and the "casino," the rich, will make out like bandits. They always do.

Bruce Levine
Cincinnati, Ohio
BrELevine@aol.com


Dear FRONTLINE,
Thank your for your presentation on the rise in the stock market.

At a time when "serious" proposals to privitize Social Security are being made respectable by the think tanks like the Cato Institute, you remind us of the historical nature of the market that the mass media chooses to ignore, lest it point out the the anabolic steriods (money market funds) the stock market is taking. I suspect when this supply is exhausted, these proposals, if enacted, will substitute our savings with our our retirement nest egg, our safety net, Social Security. Ironically, this is the very thing investors claim to be amassing with the help of trading on the stock market.

We seem to be engineering a well constructed collapse, the ultimate Ponzi scheme. As the first "baby boomers" retire on their stocks, the sell off triggers a collapse in prices as these shares enter the market place to fund their retirement. With fewer buyers than sellers, using the same demographics that are used by the Think Tankers like the Cato Institute to demolish Social Security, stock value declines at best, or at worst, a panic may ensue. On the other hand, Social Security recipients do not contribute to a general collapse in Social Security as stockholders can violently collapse a market by panic selling.

The hidden hand seems to be in every wage earners pockets these days and it appears in many forms. Widespread layoffs in pursuit of a strategy to impress upon the market the corporations' "efficiencies". The family that feels its not getting ahead, a feeling made all the more understandable when massive layoffs have contributed to the climate of insecurity the market has created in today's workplace. Meanwhile people are seen comparing themselves, their homes, their lifestlyes with people who have made the first money out of the numerous Ponzi schemes constructed by the stock market.

Frontline would do a huge public service if it were to reinforce those ideas that could remove this society from this mana machine which increasingly rules our lives. The market is fine for people with the backing to play it. It rewards people who have the money to stay in it. But for the large part of America, they are not in the same position. This is the central paradox of a society centered around the pursuit of money. The situation is so obvious that only a corporate run media could ignore it: Money is to be made by impoverishing people.

Sincerely,
Jim Maiullo


Dear FRONTLINE,
I watched the Frontline on investing with great interest. I am 37 yrs. old and my wife is 34. I have been with the Houston Public Library for a little over 3 years, and it's a very good and stable career for me. The pay is not as much as it would be for a comparable position in the private sector, but I've worked at those jobs, and from what I can learned, they offer no real job security for the future. I bring this up, because I believe it relates to one of your program's premises; The fact that most people are investing their savings into what they believe is a "sure-fire" way to supplant their "non-existant" retirement. I have always been wary of the stock market (mutual funds as well) as a means for people to get rich quick. I also have a problem with the fact that investors have no real control over gains or losses as your program pointed out. Working for the Library, I come in contact with various books which espouse the benefits of investing with almost evangelical fervor (ie: Beardstown Ladies- these Grannies are so cute! They must be right, Right?). All of this reminds me of those late-night info-mercials that promise great rewards if only...Well, I think you can guess the rest of that scenario. I have an opportunity to invest a little of our income in the fund markets before tax, and I just can't make up my mind to do it at this time. It could be very inticing, what with all of the graphs and charts and comparisons (past performance is no guarantee of future performance) if I wasn't an intelligent person. Maybe I'm not, but I'm also not losing all of our savings either. It is my firm belief that investment bankers and brokerage firms behave pretty much like the Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy in the movie "Trading Places", and that most are only concerned with making themselves rich at any cost and to the detriment of those investors not included in their social-loop/clicke. It reminds me of a line in a musical song from a group called S.N.F.U. taht goes like this... "the social ladder is incomplete, it's missing rungs are to protect the elite. So, why is it that we stand in line to try that ladder just one more time?" Human nature with a little push from advertising. Oh well, I guess this is what all wars have been fought for (cold war included): Capitalism unabashed! Enough wisdom!...enough to make me sick and enough to make the rich richer! Alas, money cannot buy happiness and I will cling to this wise proverb. See how unhappy I become when I think about it ($$)?


Dear FRONTLINE,
I love Frontline, and consider it the best program on television. The program on the stock market which aired January 14, however, was not one of your better productions. The program completely missed the story on the Motley Fool, an on-line forum which I log onto daily. To me, the Motley Fool serves two purposes. First to teach how to be a better manager of oneís money. Second, to provide a forum for the dissemination of financial information. Had the producer wished, he could have spent much of the hour illustrating how the Motley Fool works to prevent the sort of financial stupidity elsewhere exhibited in the program by instructing its readers that those who invest in the stock market should build a diversified portfolio of fundamentally sound companies, while pointing out that no money should be invested in the stock market for the short run. What really annoyed me though was a glaring factual inaccuracy in the program. Your narrator stated, in fact emphasized, that they ìguaranteeî 22% returns should their investment methodology be followed. They do nothing of the kind, and I am tempted to begin an ad hominum attack against the producer for this invention.

Much of this program was good, but Frontline ought to do a better job checking the accuracy of its scripts.

Sincerely,
Thomas Ewald
Charlotte, NC


Dear FRONTLINE,
Frontline's "betting on the Market" was an excellent and illuminating hour. It also underscored a personal frustration I have with investing today. As a younger Baby Boom generation member, I have had nothing but "invest, invest, invest" drummed into my head when it comes to retirement. So I have invested. Now all I hear is hand-wringing: "What will people do when we hit a bear market?" "Can people stomach a 30% drop in their retirement nest egg?" "Will mutual fund investors flee at the first sign of downturn?"

What am I supposed to do? Everyone tells me to invest if I don't want to spend my golden years in some Dickensian nightmare. Then I'm told how dangerous it is if I do invest and we hit the bear market wall. The same people who tell me to invest are, I'm sure, the same ones who pressure the mutual fund managers to outperform. The managers then trade like lunatics, contributing to market volitility, which then prompts a new round of hand-wringing from the people who started the cycle in the first place.

It's annoying, exasperating-and frightening.

Joe Hornbaker
Covington, KY
barkere@cincy.campus.mci.net


Dear FRONTLINE,
I was disappointed in Betting the Market because it had too little analysis, and what facts were presented were more in the nature of factoids. While an interview format alone is OK for stories of personalities and personal actions or struggles, this piece required facts and numbers For example, one interviewee said that 80% of money in stock funds has come in during the last 5 or 6 years. But who is it coming from, is it being diverted from other investments, and how much is in retirement accounts? Given the nature of the story, harder facts would put it more in perspective than mere anecdotes about people with gambling approaches. Barron's has been commenting on the phenomenon of more money from the middle class and the risk of a downward snowball. But it has provided charts giving multiple perspectives, including the relative amount of equity in homes versus stocks, and other facts.

While I am a big fan of Frontline and greatly looked forward to this episode, I was disappointed by the resulting piece.

Boston MA


Dear FRONTLINE,
Your show was excellent, however, it may have been noted that the couple who could not even name the stock they owned except by its symbol are betting their savings without putting any effort into research. Reading the SEC filings and some simple math can at least assure some reasonable hopes their investments will not be totally destroyed. The stock market is a scary place to be if you only rely on the advice of others and do not put the effort into learning more about your investments and the new wave of "sharks" will gladly take your money and manipulate the market to their advantage, with the average investor only incidental to the huge profits they make.

Earl Gipson


Dear FRONTLINE,
To begin with, I love the Frontline stories. I have always thought your program is one of the most objective news programs out today; in a world of very few quality television programs. I was intrigued by the piece you did on "Betting on the Market." I am very surprised and concerned at the number of middle-class people who are waging their entire financial lives on whether a stock price goes up or down. When are we going to learn that nothing is "set in stone" and lasts forever? And what kind of message are we sending to our future generations about the complexities of finances? Quick fixes and "get rich quick" schemes boasting financial freedom are not going to solve the problem. Its about living our lives in moderation and understanding completely the financial risks we face everyday. In other words, the stock market monster is gonna get ya if you don't watch out!!!

Sally Landes


Dear FRONTLINE,
I happened to tune into your show last night, and enjoyed it very much. However, I would like to suggest another "frontline" on a more basic level, for those of us viewers who would like to start investing but need some basic education. For example, I would like to know the differences between growth and investment stocks, stocks vs bonds, bear vs bull markets. How does one read the financial pages?

I am a baby boomer with a master's degree and many years of experience in corporate speech consulting. Somehow, as I went through school, I never learned any of the above, and am interested in doing so now.

If you do decide to do a show on this, I would be happy to answer any questions to guide you on the content. In addition, could you e-mail me and let me know if/when such a show would be on? Thank you; it's wonderful to be able to give feed-back by e-mail to a show's staff!

Cantor Neil Schwartz, or
Katie Schwartz, B.S.I.

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