There’s a Revival of the Dotcom-esque Froth in Today’s Markets; Cathie Wood Is Standing in for Henry Blodget and Jack Grubman; Nasdaq Is Playing Nasdaq

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: April 3, 2024 ~

BubblesOn Wednesday, April 3, Cathie Wood, CEO and Chief Investment Officer of ARK Investment Management, reiterated her price target of $2,000 on Tesla, the electric vehicle manufacturer. Tesla’s stock opened Wednesday at $164.02 and was trading at $168 by early afternoon. The average analyst price target on Tesla is $178.16 – more than $1800 away from Cathie Wood’s price target.

Market Insider reported on March 14 that Tesla is the third-largest holding in Wood’s flagship ARKK fund, “with a value of $574.88 million.” In other words, Wood has a not so subtle incentive to want to boost Tesla’s share price.

Tesla has lost $300 billion in market cap since June of last year and its share price is down more than 30 percent year-to-date.

Tesla does have this going for it. It makes real things – autos – that are useful to society (providing there is an engaged human behind the wheel).

The stock exchange where Tesla is listed is Nasdaq – which has a checkered past in terms of its listings – as well as price fixing by the biggest trading houses on Wall Street.

Following the Nasdaq dotcom mania of the late 1990s, the Nasdaq reached a closing high of 5,048.62 on March 10, 2000. It then proceeded to lose 78 percent of its market value over the next 2-1/2 years. It reached a closing low of 1,114.11 on October 9, 2002. One year into the crash, New York Times reporter Ron Chernow described the devastation as follows:

“Let us be clear about the magnitude of the Nasdaq collapse. The tumble has been so steep and so bloody — close to $4 trillion in market value erased in one year — that it amounts to nearly four times the carnage recorded in the October 1987 crash.”

Chernow called the Nasdaq stock market a “lunatic control tower that directed most incoming planes to a bustling, congested airport known as the New Economy while another, depressed airport, the Old Economy, stagnated with empty runways. The market functioned as a vast, erratic mechanism for misallocating capital across America,” Chernow wrote.

Misallocating capital across America and away from the “Old Economy”? Hmmm. Today we have airplane components falling off commercial passenger planes in the sky and unsafe bridges, while a Donald Trump startup, Trump Media & Technology Group, (owner of a social media platform whose primary use seems to be for Trump to slander sitting judges and elected officials), has a market cap of $5.5 billion and trades at 1800 times revenues. According to an SEC filing on Monday, the company lost $58.19 million last year on revenues of a meager $4.13 million.

Where does Trump’s company trade? Nasdaq, of course.

Following the dotcom bust, the Nasdaq was so discredited that it did not reset its March 2000 high until 15 years later. In fact, it remained 50 percent or more below that high until 2007.

It turned out that there was a pack of crooked analysts on Wall Street that were the wind beneath the Nasdaq’s dotcom wings.

These analysts were effectively pimps pushing out lemon companies as hot IPOs while calling the companies dogs and crap in internal emails. The analysts and their bosses got rich from bonuses while investors were left with a portfolio of bankrupt companies.

On April 28, 2003, the Securities and Exchange Commission settled its cases against the corrupt research practices with 10 Wall Street banks for $875 million. No one went to jail. Just two individual analysts were charged: Jack Grubman of Citigroup’s former Salomon Smith Barney unit and Merrill Lynch’s Henry Blodget. Both men were barred from future affiliation with a Wall Street firm and paid fines that were a fraction of the bonuses they had collected.

The same Wall Street banks that settled with the SEC in 2003 continue to be allowed by the SEC to issue research reports on companies for whom they underwrite stock and debt offerings.

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