Could the Markets Push Gore to a Concession?

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This is the moment traders have been dreading. No, not the arrival of the GOP lawyers in federal court Monday, or the off-and-crawling manual recounts in four Gore-friendly Florida counties (though the blooming presidential uncertainty can now be declared to be adding to investors' malaise). It's something very Wall Street, though Al Gore and George W. Bush will be hearing about it all week:

At the opening bell Monday, NASDAQ crashed through the floor.

Look at the chart — this has been on the horizon for a while. From the March peak of 5132 to Friday's close of 3029, the general direction of the NASDAQ graph — what's called the trend line — is a consistent downward slope. It's tested its low of 3026 several times, in May, in October, and last week, and, as technical analysts like to say, "there's no such thing as a quadruple bottom." When the trend line hits the floor, the floor gives way. Then the floor turns into the ceiling.

Monday, both indexes were ailing; by lunchtime, the Dow was down 215 points to 10,386 and the NASDAQ down 158 to 2870. The Dow tends to be more responsive to political considerations; the tech index has plenty of its own troubles to worry about. A bad profit warning from Dow component and tech bellwether Hewlett Packard helped sellers in both indexes make up their minds Monday, but it's generally agreed that the dawning of another week of election madness is starting to be a big part of the problem across the board.

Before the election, everybody wondered if the choppy markets would signal to voters the end of the Clinton-Gore boom. Now that NASDAQ is in a whole new bearish paradigm, with no numerical reason to stop falling, will the politicians take notice?

It's been a dutiful worry in these days since the non-election that the vacuum in the president-elect slot could shake the financial markets. Now that it might be happening — certainly it will look that way to Washington eyes — could the financial markets affect the presidential post-campaign?

The Bush camp has already offered Gore a one-recount endgame; this is the week for Gore to think about it. On Tuesday, the state of Florida seems determined to certify a winner of the machine recount, and at week's end (now Saturday) they'll have a final number with overseas ballots. The vice president, while he decides how many more generations of legal and electoral wrangling he wants to endorse, will be hearing from high-end Democrats how he'll get blamed for dragging this thing out. And how he'd be much better off running in 2004 as a martyr than winning in 2000 as a graceless hair-splitter.

If the markets are falling around Gore's ears this week, he might be a lot more willing to listen.