The Market Was Down
Nobody knew why the market was down that day. But it didn’t stop everyone from having a theory.
"Worries over Spain’s role in the EU brought the market down today," said a woman on the radio. "The market had an off day today, due to uncertainty in oil futures," announced a man on television. “Market Slightly Down as Health Care Details Come into Focus” wrote a newspaper writer.
The truth was no one knew why the market was down. It started the day, just... down. It stayed down most of the day. It had an up moment for a little bit around lunch, but was still, just, down.
Why was the market down? No reason. Well, stupid stuff. Actually, to be honest, maybe it was Spain at the beginning, but it was really only worried about Spain because it woke up looking for something to worry about. Then, before long, the market started worrying about bigger things, things that didn’t seem to have an answer.
If the market had never existed, would anyone miss it? Would anything really be different? Did anyone actually really care about the market, or did they just think they could make money from it? And then there were all those people who said they hated the market, and they always seemed so much cooler and better looking than the people who liked the market— were those people right? Were they on to something? Was the market soulless? Evil? Pointless? Harmful? Bad?
The market calmed down for a minute when it pictured Warren Buffett. What an undeniably warm, wise, lovely man Warren Buffett was! And he sure loved the market. With all his heart, without question. That made the market feel better.
But then the market thought of something so sad it made it want to kill itself: what if Warren Buffett was just wrong? This made the market feel worse than ever: the idea that an obviously wonderful old man like Warren Buffett might have wasted his heart loving something as terrible and worthless as itself, the market. Now the market felt so guilty and terrible it let itself wonder what it would be like if it let itself completely collapse. But it didn’t. Oh, that’s ridiculous, the market told itself: now you’re just down because you’re down. Come on. Look alive.
The market began to pick itself up a bit. People were happy to see the market improve— everyone was rooting for it (except for a few people who were always betting on the market to fail, but there would always be people like that; and those were people that even the people who hated the market hated). When the market realized how many people were counting on it, and how many people were hoping it got better, that made it pick itself up a little more. It felt more valued, more confident. Feeling that way made it look that way, too, and that made more people treat it that way. And that made it feel that way even more.
It was still down, though. Just kind of down.
What time was it? It felt late.
The thing was, the market could only be what it was. That’s what it was: the market. Some people would always love it; some people would always hate it. Was it good? Was it bad? It wasn’t its job to know. It was just its job to be what it was.
As the sun started to burn its way down in the sky, the market decided to just stop thinking for a while, stop working for a while, and get some rest.
The next day, the market was up!
This story is excerpted from One More Thing by B.J. Novak. Copyright © 2014 by B.J. Novak. Published by arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC.
Produced in partnership with Rico Gagliano and The Dinner Party Download.