A tip of the market cap to…

August 18, 2008, 4:21 PM UTC

Hi. We’re back.

Actually, I was back a few days ago. Bob and the gang had a staff meeting on the west coast last Thursday, and I perceived it was inadvisable for me to remain incommuncato.

It’s hard to come back. Your attention wanders at first. But one comment made by somebody at some point in the day caught my ear, wormed its way in, and provides, I think, a nice bass note to attend my return.

We were talking about the Market and how crazy things are starting to look just about every day. It’s like one of those friends you had in college, the kind you grew out of. Big mood swings. Very dramatic. One day way high, the sky’s the limit, anything is possible. The next, down in the dumps, too bad, so sad, me feel like me wanna die. After a while you get bored with such people. They take too much energy to keep around. They fall in love with something or somebody every couple of months, then lose interest in them just as fast. They come to stay and eat all your food, then complain about the quality of your cooking. You try over the years to shake them off, distance yourself from them. But they just won’t really go away. And over the years, as you all get older, they get nuttier and nuttier and nuttier until there’s really no explaining to your kids how you ever were friends with Uncle Morty in the first place, but there he is at the table every Thanksgiving, or calling you at 3:00 in the morning because he got himself into some kind of trouble again. Wall Street is like that.

So Farraday is sitting at one end of the big conference table and we’re all bitchin’ about the state of things, and he says, “It’s crazy. Bed Bath & Beyond’s market cap is bigger than GM’s.” This seems incredible to me, so I just file it away and then find I’m spending the weekend thinking about it. This morning I checked it, and it’s true. Bed Bath & Beyond’s market cap is a little under $8 billion. GM’s is a little over $6 billion.

This is not to say that there’s anything wrong at all with BB&B. I like it very much. Well, actually, I like the Bed and Bath part. It’s often the Beyond part that weirds me out a little. There are only so many salad spinners and scented candles you can buy. But it’s a good store. Nothing wrong with it at all… I’ll probably be there this coming weekend, looking for a new duvet cover.

But how could the Market value a great, crucial behemoth like General Motors less than a place that sells sheets, towels and George Foreman grills?

Okay, all you dedicated rationalists. It’s time for you to dive in and tell me how this all makes perfect sense, which I’m sure it does. And that, in the end, may be the most frightening thing of all.