A good time to be in financial services

If financial-service advertisers can’t entice people to invest in the stock market now, they ought to find another line of work. It’s not just that the Dow Jones industrial average closed at an all-time high on Tuesday. What also matters is that the Dow hit this mark at a time when real estate—the other place where Americans put their capital—is looking like a dog of an investment, for the time being. When the Dow hit its previous high, in January 2000, the housing market was booming as well, thus competing strongly for investors’ cash. Moreover, the Dow’s slow climb since its October 2002 low point has left price/earnings ratios at sufficiently modest levels, and stock prices don’t look wildly inflated now, as they did to rational souls back in the heyday of irrational exuberance. Clearly, then, it’s time for Madison Avenue to help Wall Street reconnect with Main Street.

—Posted by Mark Dolliver