Stocks and Bytes

A friend tells about her investment club of friends and neighbors. They chip in amounts in three figures, follow the stock market, and are doing quite well, thank you. It's fun, it's modestly profitable (though Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan advised stockholder caution this week), and it adds to the amazing figures from the National Association of Securities Dealers:

* Since 1990 the percentage of US adults who own stock has doubled from 21 percent to 43 percent.

* The previous doubling of stockholders - from slightly more than 10 percent to 21 percent - took a quarter of a century.

Does it mean anything that the percentage of households with computers also has doubled since 1990, and with comparable figures, 20-plus to 40-plus? We don't know how many folks are into both stocks and bytes, but we're sure Mr. Greenspan wants investors to track their finances somehow. We almost hear him echoing the computer warning "be sure to save," which can be a protection if either a desktop or a market crashes.

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