Monday I WAKE UP this morning thinking about or car. That is not the way to start the week. Our 1977 Chevy has absorbed more hours than I care to count. After the installation of new tires and brakes, the car began vibrating when driven over 50 miles per hour. The brake people blame the tires. The tire people blame the brakes. Now the driver is vibrating.
It is my turn to car pool, and I have to call (again) to shift days. Owning an American car has always been an act of patriotism for me, but my patriotic fervor has been shaken.
At the office, this day, like all the others, starts with a reading of The Post and Wall Street Journal. The investment business is one where it is important to stay on top of current events, because the reaction of securities prices to news stories can be instantaneous. Of course, the stock market often reacts to rumor as well as news. When a prank caller recently announced that Ronald Reagan had suffered a "heart attack," the Dow Jones industrial average was plummeting within minutes.
An associate and I discuss our new prospect, a large pension fund in the Washington area. We hope to become the portfolio managers for this fund, meaning that we would be hired to provide the investment advice. However, we must first make our presentation to the board members. Coordinating and setting up such a meeting can be terribly time consuming and frustrating. Several more phone calls still leave us without a meeting date.
I take a friend to lunch to discuss a teaching position. My concern is over the extra hours that the course (Financial Analysis of the Firm) will require. We also discuss the program for a national conference for investment analysts which will be held in Washington in the spring.
The stock market is slow and dreary this afternoon. Interest rates, which peaked at 18-20 percent, and then declined to 8-10 percent, are now up again. This puts pressure on the stock market because investors switch out of stocks and into high-yielding fixed-income securities. The Producers Price Index for the latest month is announced at 18 percent, on an annual basis, due to a huge jump in food prices. The Dow Jones industrial average closes down 12 points today.
Before dinner, I go jogging. Barbara, Catherine, Adam and I are all at home for dinner tonight. With four busy schedules, this is becoming a rarity. I help with homework and do some reading for the office. Tuesday
I complete travel arrangements for a trip to Boston and Cape Cod. A client calls to say she will need $8,500 for a down payment on a condominium. I sell some short-term notes and assure her the money will be in her account next week. I buy stock for clients in a building company which has a commercial roofing process about which we are very enthusiastic. The key is that it is not an asphalt (petroleum-based) product and has not increased in price as much as asphalt roofs have. The politics of petroleum is a major factor in determining stock prices.
In the evening, I play a ladder match at our tennis club. I play well tonight, and by winning, maintain my number 8 position. After showering and grabbing a bit to eat, I go to our elementary school PTA meeting. We discuss the budget and a proposal to have a fund raiser. Wednesday
One of the minicomputer stocks was down 12 points today because corporate management announced that Wall Street earnings estimates were too high. Our analysis indicates that the earnings shortfall is temporary and that the three-year outlook remains excellent. Many companies will buy minicomputers as an answer to lagging productivity. I buy the stock for my clients.
I leave the office early because we are going to our mountain cabin in West Virginia. With the children's schedules for choir, soccer, Girl Scouts, Indian Guides and music lessons, we have to do a lot of planning in order to take time like this. It only takes 1 3/4 hours to get to our mountain house, so we are there in time for a spaghetti dinner. Thursday
We sleep late and then have a big breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage and toast. Adam and I go fishing in a nearby pond. For bait, we try the "amazing minnow" and then switch to grasshoppers. The sky is deep blue and there is absolutely not a cloud anywhere. We are all proud of ourselves for having arranged for such beaufiful weather on our holiday.
We clean the cabin and wash the windows, inside and out. We get attacked by wasps nesting above the windows, who seem indignant that we would disturb their sleep.
In the afternoon, all four of us take a canoe ride on Back Creek. Adam and Catherine paddle the canoe while Barbara and I go along for the ride. Leaves drift lazily down to plunge in the water. The sun is out, the water is warm and we got out and wade part of the way because the creek is low.
Later at the cabin, Catherine bakes a delicious apple pie for dinner and we all have double portions. We head for home, thankful for our retreat where we can get away from telephones, televisions and rigid schedules. Friday
A stock purchased for our portfolios is up by over 50 percent in three weeks. This market is becoming speculative, a feature which has been absent for over seven years. Most of the blue chips plod along, however, while the secondary stocks produce all the action.
A client adds a large sum of money to the portfolio under our supervision. This is a foundation and it indicates that they are healthy, despite the economic recession. Many such foundations and trade associations are struggling and must dip into their investment reserves.
I recommended the sale of two electric utility bonds due to their deteriorating financial. The future of the electric utility industry is bleak. Government ownership or subsidy is a real possibility unless utilities can earn higher returns so that they can attract capital.
We report the market value of our portfolios every three months to our clients, and I begin sending these out. The stock market has increased by over 11 percent for this quarter and our accounts have done well. These are the kind of reports that I like to send out.
Barbara and I go to a dinner party in the neighborhood given by good friends. One of the couples has just moved here from Paris. Good company, good wine and a good way to end the working week. We leave around 11 p.m., as Saturday is always a busy day. Saturday
The day starts poorly for me. I lose a tennis match in straight sets. Next comes Adam's soccer game. This team has been together for four seasons now, and the parents have as much fun as the boys. We have about a 25-mile drive to get to our field (who schedules these games?). Our boys (The Orange Crush) play well, but we lose 2-1.
We try to catch up on household chores. Barbara cleans the house while I go shopping, which is a pain on Saturday because of the crowds of people. Especially bad is the grocery store, which is one of those enlarged stores where they mix in the socks and underwear with the soup and bread in hopes that you will buy a little of everything.
The kids have to be carpooled to church for choir practice. Then Barbara and I hit the yard. Our yard looks like a mine field due to our friends, the moles, who have taken up residence. This means that in addition to liming, fertilizing and seeding, we must treat the yard with spectracide, which kills the insects, and then the moles go over to someone else's yard. We work until about 7 p.m., have a late dinner and fall into bed, exhausted. Sunday
Choir warmup is 8:45, and Barbara and I have to set up for serving coffee after church. Our new rector is with us today. It has taken a whole year to find him, and we have done surprisingly well on our own, but it is nice to have a leader again. The sermon discusses how many people are lost and looking for their faith. Bill (our rector) gives a good parallel of a friend of his who was lost in the mountains for five days.
I spend the entire afternoon paying bills and going through the mail, while Barbara finishes cleaning the house. Catherine works on her homework, and Adam goes to a friend's house to shoot off rockets.
We host our book group in the evening. Five other couples come over for some peach cobbler and white wine, and to discuss "Gandhi: A Personal Memoir" by William Shirer. For our next meeting we decide to read "Trinity," have a pot luck Irish dinner and then go to an Irish pub for beer, darts and Irish songs.