- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Monday, March 10, marked the three-year anniversary of the Nasdaq stock market's closing-day peak of 5,048.62. With the Nasdaq already having shed 74 percent of its value before trading began Monday, it seemed only appropriate that the index sank another 2 percent on the anniversary of its peak.
Except for the Dow Jones industrials' 89 percent collapse during the Great Depression, the Nasdaq's three-year retreat represents the largest proportional plunge in U.S. stock-market history. Since March 10, 2000, shareholders of Nasdaq-listed companies have lost more than $4.8 trillion in wealth. Cisco Systems alone, which briefly surpassed Microsoft as the world's most valuable company three years ago, has jettisoned more than $350 billion in value. Intel has shed nearly $300 billion in market capitalization during the three-year bear market, and Microsoft has lost more than $250 billion. Emblematic of the telecom meltdown, MCIWorldCom has gone from a company worth $133 billion three years ago to bankruptcy today.
The Nasdaq's dramatic ascent beyond 5,000 was truly awesome to behold. When the Reagan bull market the greatest bull market in history commenced on Aug. 13, 1982, the Nasdaq composite index began the day at 160. It reached 1,000 in July 1995, 1,500 in July 1997 and 2,000 in July 1998. Then, the fun began. The Nasdaq index surpassed 2,500 in January 1999 and 3,500 in December 1999. Three months later, it breached the 5,000 level.
In the breathtaking December 1999 run-up to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos being named Time magazine's Man of the Year, Amazon's stock in a single day jumped nearly $15 on its way past $100 per share. The share price of Amazon later plunged below $10 per share.
After AOL used its fabulous paper wealth in January 2000 to grab more than half the hard assets of media giant Time Warner, credible rumors (credible at the time, at least) circulated through Wall Street speculating that Internet-portal Yahoo! would soon make a play for the hard assets of Disney. Incomprehensible in hindsight, to be sure.
Having given up three quarters of its value over the past three years, is the Nasdaq prone to fall further? Well, consider this: Sometime during Monday's anniversary descent, when the index fell from 1,305 to 1,278, it pierced the 1,300 level, which was the level at which Nasdaq closed on Dec. 5, 1996, the day Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan warned about "irrational exuberance."

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