Today is National Occult Day, so clearly we can blame spooooooky underworld spirits for the fact that the two big stock indexes – the Dow and the S&P 500 – and crypto-geek lust object Bitcoin all reached milestone highs today, with the Dow breaking 16,000 for the first time ever, the S&P breaking 1,800, and Bitcoin breaking the $600 barrier.
The stock index numbers, arbitrary and round, are important only symbolically, in the sense that the headlines in tomorrow's papers touting those numbers might restore a bit of consumer confidence somewhere in the country. The Bitcoin number matters less, although it is fun to think about which Caribbean island I'd be on right now if I'd bought more than one Bitcoin at $130 back in April.
Today's stock rallies are partly the result of a better-than-expected quarter from Boeing, which sold a bunch of airplanes to rich people in Dubai and saw its stock price rise accordingly, and partly the same things that have been happening all year: confidence from investors that the Fed won't end its easy-money policies soon, strong corporate profits, and a stabilizing economy. (The Bitcoin gain is harder to explain, but might have to do with Chinese buyers or an imminent Senate hearing during which the crypto currency will be given the blessing of the SEC and DOJ.)
Of course, none of this matters much to Americans who don't own stocks or math-based Internet currencies. For those people, the economic picture is much grimmer. (See Annie Lowrey's fantastically depressing NYT piece this weekend about the plight of the long-term unemployed.) But hey, if you've got a big old index fund in your Vanguard account, a few thousand Boeing shares, or a Scrooge McDuck–like pile of Bitcoins, today is your day. Go forth and pop bottles.