Countdown: Only 12 more days to Dow 0

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The Dow was down another 679 points today. Twelve more days like that and it hits zero. The point being that there aren’t going to be 12 more days like that, at least not in a row.

At this point I’m getting really sick of trying offer explanations for why the market did what it did. It would seem to be a combination of deep uncertainty about how the banking system rescue being mooted by the Treasury Department is going to play out for financial stocks (who gets saved? who doesn’t? how will existing shareholders be treated?) and increasing fear about how hard the recession is going to hit nonfinancial companies. But it could also just be fatigue, or panic, or something else. Pure random chance seems pretty unlikely, though.

Prices are starting to look pretty cheap relative to past earnings, but nobody has any clear idea how much future earnings are going to look like those of the past. A lot of people thought stocks looked really cheap in early 1930, and they got totally burned.

That said, my bet is that this isn’t 1930 at all, and at some point over the next few days or weeks or months, those who buy into stocks will end up being richly rewarded. Not a lot of people seem to think today is that point, though.

Update: Because I’m so busy (I’ve been working on a story for Fortune this week), they made Barbara write the straight lede on the horrible day on Wall Street. Burn on her. But she actually did it really well.