Are journalists, politicians, analysts, et al. really so retarded that they insist on leading all stories about yesterday's Dow with a patently useless measure? (The short answer is probably yes.). To wit:
Stocks plunge as House rejects bailout package: Dow absorbs biggest one-day loss in history: 777.68 points
Stocks plunged yesterday with the Dow Jones industrial average falling nearly 780 points—the biggest one-day point drop ever—after federal lawmakers failed to pass a $700 billion plan to bail out the financial system.
That particular formulation comes from The Baltimore Sun, but you've all read or heard countless variations on the theme. If this figure is not expressed in percentage terms, it is absolutely useless. Indeed, for most of its existence, the DJIA, couldn't have dropped 780 points because the index wasn't that high. Which of course reporters (and pols, and analysts, et al.) know, and always bury somewhere deeper in the story. To wit, from the Sun story mentioned just a few lines above:
The Dow's 7 percent decline was the 17th biggest percentage drop in its history, well below the more than 20 percent drops seen in October 1987 and the Great Depression.
Somehow "Dow absorbs 17th-biggest percentage drop in its history" just doesn't pack the same wallop, does it? More here.