Some fortunes skyrocket like fireworks for the New Year's Eve celebration. Others — those dirty old companies that make things — skulk at home, with no party invitations. I started tracking this in early 1999, when I was convinced the bubble was about to pop. With the benefit of hindsight, it looks like the bubble didn't even get going until we were warming up for the Y2k parties.
It looks like the top of the bubble was probably just about 1 year ago today, March 10, 2000. Unfortunately, I didn't grab a snapshot about then (and even more unfortunately, I didn't sell every stock I owned). The closest I have is Dec. 23, 1999, so we'll go with that. On my page of static tables, you can see the steep slope up during the month of December, 1999, as well as the earliest chart I put on line, in April 1999. (The "Momentum" essay has a Feb.'99 chart as a sidebar.)
Summing the market capitalization (stock price times number of shares outstanding) of the top 100 shows that something major was up last December. From the dip in mid-October 1999, to December 23, 1999, the top 100 companies' market capitalization rocketed north by more than 20% — almost $2,000,000,000,000.
The Dec. 23, 1999 snapshot was motivated by Yahoo! briefly edging out the company I work for, Hewlett-Packard; a hundred billion dollars worth of Yahoo!, think of it.
I hoped a year later was the moment to take a picture of the post-dot-com nadir, but no. There's been another $trillion of gas deflated in the last 3 months, and some folks are saying "no end in sight." The Nasdaq index is off 60% since its peak, and is limping at 2-year-ago levels. (And yes, that seemed high at the time! Scary thought.)
Lucent was number 8 once upon a time; now it's just barely on the list, at #100. Cisco has been #2 and #3, but it's half the size it was, now down at #15. And mighty Microsoft is back in the number 2 slot, after falling down to #5 when its legal fortunes looked bleakest. The nouveau Bush adminstration appears prepared to preside over the antitrust verdict being dismembered.
And General Electric just seems to float above the fray. It has waned some since its visit about the half-$trillion mark, and had to settle for #2 when Microsoft was flying highest. But it's been up at the top all along.
Aside from individual (company) fortunes, the top 100 as a (variable membership!) group has a pretty stable market capitalization. But then that's the Central Limit Theorem for you. The top 10's total capitalization shows the same regression to the mean, and inertia (if you can call going from $9 trillion, to over 11 trillion and then back below 10 trillion "inertia"):
|Total Market Capitalization ($billions)|
|Top 10||Top 100|
|April 9, 1999||2,385||9,268|
|Oct. 15, 1999||2,527||9,160|
|Dec. 3, 1999||2,932||10,713|
|Dec. 23, 1999||3,184||11,073|
|Dec. 21, 2000||2,624||9,956|
|March 9, 2001||2,626||9,819|
I'm now collecting data on a weekly basis, and dumping the sortable tables of top 100 mkt. cap. in an index.
Tom von Alten tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org