April 14th, 2003

Me 2012

Misfiring

Part of a note I received from Toddler Bank's HR department, about our American Funds, our 401k administrator:

Here is an interesting tidbit for you concerning the judgment of the fund investors for American Funds: not one fund ever had a single share of Enron, WorldCom or any of the dot-com stocks.

I realize that this is supposed to make me feel good about American funds. And, I'll admit, I can see why a fund company would never have bought into Enron or Worldcom. But NONE of the dot-com stocks? Excuse me? So, were they morons, or are you just lying? Let's check.

American Funds has a "New Economy Growth Fund". For those of you not familiar with stock investing, this would generally be code for "I jumped onto the Internet Bubble." Among their major holdings today are AOL Time Warner and Yahoo! I'm not entirely sure by what standards Yahoo! doesn't qualify as a dot-com stock. Maybe because it doesn't have ".com" at the end? How about UnitedGlobal.Com, then? Would that count? That's on their list of holdings at year-end 2002.

So, is the person who wrote this bit of tripe an idiot, or does he just think I am? I think this is the least reassuring bit of reassurance I've ever received. I feel insulted and about sick. I think I'll email American Funds about this. I really hope this is just some invention from my HR department and not a press release from AF.

Gah.

And, quite frankly, it wouldn't make me feel any better if it was true. There were many points at which it was an excellent idea to hold dot-com stocks, and not all of them for speculative reasons. Yes, the dot-com bubble was a bubble and its stocks were grotesquely overvalued for a long time. But that doesn't mean there were no dot-com stocks that were ever promising and worth buying. Sheesh.
Me 2012

Adjusting sights

Right after I made the previous post, I left a comment on American Funds' website showing the quote from the newsletter. Much to my surprise, less than an hour later, I received a call from a somewhat horrified woman in their marketing department, asking me who'd written it and where the information had come from. Not only did she think it sounded unlike anything a representative from AF would say, but it patently wasn't true -- AF had a small holding in Worldcom at one point. I gave her the HR person's phone number. Haven't heard anything from them since.

One of the things that struck me about this is that marketing for a mutual fund is a highly regulated affair, and making a claim like that could get them in real trouble with the SEC. My guess at this point would be that whoever wrote up this bit for the newsletter based it on a half-understood conversation with someone from AF. Either that, or the woman who called me back is just terrified that someone actually noticed.

OK, I'm not really that cynical. Yet.
Me 2012

Worst RPG EV4R

The F.A.T.A.L review. Warning: contains a LOT of foul language. It is very funny except when it hurts your brain and makes you want to scream, cry, and claw your own eyes out to STOP THE HURTING. You might want to just read the first bit, laugh, and then stop while you're still capable of thinking maybe it's just a big joke.

But IT'S NOT.

I got this link from broken toys, and as Scott Jennings put it: "Even reading the review made me feel unclean."