NPR logo The Dow: Scary, But Does It Mean Anything?

The Dow: Scary, But Does It Mean Anything?

The Dow probably matters to him. Does it matter to you? Source: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Source: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

Almost every newscast I heard yesterday mentioned the stock market plunge... And specifically the fact that the Dow dropped below 10,000 points for the first time in four years. When investors and finance types compare stocks and funds, they often refer to the Dow. But when we talk with experts about the economy, they tell us the Dow doesn't matter, that it's just another number among many. Sure doesn't feel that way when you've got a retirement account in the mix, and all you hear about is how much that number's dropped in the last 24 hours! I know, I know... the markets go up and down, and they'll eventually come back up. But if you watch the Dow, I'm curious why. What does it tell you?