GLOBAL PROVINCE - Home - About This Site - Agile Companies - Annual Reports - Best of Class - Best of the
- Big Ideas - Brain Stem - Dunk's Dictums - Global Wit & Worldly Wisdom - Gods, Heroes, & Legends -
Infinite Bookstore  - Investor Digest - Other Global Sites - Poetry & BusinessScenes from the Global Province
A Stitch in Time - Two Rivers


Return to the Index of Letters from the Global Province

March 18, 2002—March Madness

Coach Porter. Coach and, later, impresario in both the Illinois and national high school athletic associations, Henry V. Porter coined "March Madness" in an essay he wrote for Illinois High School Athlete in March 1939. He went on to write a poem, "Basketball Ides of March," his pen never silent. March Madness amounts to an affectionate term for all the hubbub surrounding Illinois state high school tournaments. You can read about this at www.marchmadness.org. It's odd, of course, that March Madness should originate in Illinois, since legend has it that Indiana's Hoosiers are much more passionate about their high-school basketball warriors.

Of course, the term has been co-opted for NCAA doings and everybody else's basketball fireworks this month. And the madness itself stretches well beyond sports. Haven't we always talked about the Ides of March and the conspiratorial killing of Caesar? Then there's St. Patrick's Day, when the wonderful Irish march a crooked course staggering a bit from libations too many. The progress of madness in March touches more than the pedestrian antics of basketballers caught up in competition.

Love is in the Air. Included in this insanity are the transports of love. Friend Chuck, whom we thought to be retired from everything, just looked up his high school sweetheart of 40 years ago, and, after a whirlwind courtship, they are to be married. The retired chairman of General Electric has been tap dancing with the editor (now ex-editor) of the Harvard Business Review. Meanwhile, certain lady politicians of Taiwan are reputed to be engaged in acrobatic romances with sundry married men of Taipei.

A Good Face on Despair. Yet another way to trip through the madness of March is to take on the flavors of New Orleans. Oppressed by a deflated economy, sparkling crime statistics, and legendary corruption, the Mardi Gras city always puts a smile and a shrug in front of its troubles. March puts it at its best and most surreal, as our recent visit revealed. Thankfully, its overwhelming humidity has not yet set in, and the streets, oddly enough, are rather free of people, making peregrinations easy and unchallenged. You will hear about Three Dog Bakery, The Epitome cigar shop, and other singular old Orleans delights on the Global Province in good time. Suffice to say, this is still very much a city which, unlike the rest of the tourist cities in America, has not remade itself into a gigantic mall inhabited by all the look-alike national retail chain stores that have driven the special and local out of shopping. The cuisine, of whatever style, bears a decisive New Orleans stamp, even though some cooks come from out of town now. The power of the place is stronger than all the stereotypes that predominate elsewhere. The madness of New Orleans, despite its tears, is that it remains stubbornly itself in the face of all the sameness that has become the patina elsewhere.

It Ain't Over Til It's Over. The bulls are strutting again, a covey of economists tells us the recession/depression is over, and congressmen are larding the humongous new defense budget with lots of pork barrel. As they say in New Orleans, Let The Good Times Roll. Well, almost, maybe.

Yes, stock-market mania has also come in March. And yet some pretty wise fellows, Sir John Templeton and Jeremy Grantham, for instance, think we're in the midst of a bear market that's here to stay. They believe we must wrestle with a 7-to-9-year Bear. So keep some of your powder dry. While Grantham's favorite asset is timber, he does think small caps will outperform big caps, so you might look for little, unnoticed, very liquid, underpriced companies.

The recession and the stock market blues may be over. Or we may be just having some market madness.

P.S. For those suffering from the drought in the East, we can console you with Chaucer's thoughts on April, which kick off the Canterbury Tales:

Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour....

Back to Top of Page

Return to the Index of Letters from the Global Province

Home - About This Site - Contact Us

Copyright 2004 GlobalProvince.com

Hit Counter