William Shakespeare had a thing about the fickle nature of things. Everything was fickle: women, pride, time, love — even whole countries. But nothing was as fickle as fortune in Elizabethan times. In King Henry V, Shakespeare tells us all about “Fortune’s furious fickle wheel.” In Romeo and Juliet, the Bard’s young heroine reminds us that “O fortune, fortune! All men call thee fickle.”
One wonders what the Bard would think about the modern-day stock exchange. Here, even good news can spawn a Nasdaq nosedive. I refer of course to Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International and the trade group’s release of equipment book-to-bill figures for April. It was another record month, but the ratio of bookings to orders wasn’t quite as high as last month’s ratio, which paved the way for the Nasdaq to plummet to a record low. Fickle fortune(s), indeed.
What would Shakespeare make of the rise and fall of Silicon Valley’s sometimes nebulous empires, and the ebb and flow of more wealth in a day’s time than one could accrue in an entire lifetime in the 16th and 17th centuries?
Would he be perhaps inspired by the fickle nature of the stock market?
I like to think so.
Thus, without further ado, The Royal Shakespeare Electronic News Company gives you:
Much Ado About Money
ACT I. Scene 1. The King’s corner office.
CEOnicus: Adminio! Take thee note of my words.
Adminio: Yes, m’lord?
CEOnicus: To my citizens tell: Trade reporters, investors, employees, lend me your ears. Orders are up! Throughout all there is a most glorious backlog! Three shifts slave through night and day, sun and moon to ship our fair products! Now do not tarry, Adminio: To the Web you must post! Let the e-mail go forth!
Adminio: Yes, m’lord.
CEOnicus: Oh, brave new world that has such circuits in it!
ACT II. Prologue.
Analysto: Ah, orders are up, and backlog there is still in the Valley of Siliconia.
The Land of the Dragon beyond the rising Sun makes overtures, The East seeks more chips from the West!
`Tis true, said orders are not up as much as last month, But beware the ides of fiscal year! It is foretold, and we are prepared.The second-quarter doldrums we must not rue, for Siliconia is in the midst of an upswing!
Scene 1. Day Traydbalt’s cubicle
Traydbalt: Mon dieu! Margin, margin, wherefore art thou, oh margin! I am ruined! I spy thine shrinking book-to-bill! Curse fortune’s fickle fate, that I did not sell yesterday! Sell, Sell! Oh fie on you, little mouse! Thou canst not click fast enough!
Scene II. The King’s corner office. He is studying his PC.
CEOnicus: Oh a pox on this fickle market! Our stock plummets! O God! God! How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world!
Shareholdio: CEOnicus! A pox on thee, thou fobbing folly fallen eggshell! Why dost our stock droppeth?
CEOnicus: Alas, it is that vile Day Traydbalt! He shall taste the bite of my sword! Had all his hairs been lives, my revenge had stomach for them all!
ACT III. Scene 1. A corner Starbucks in Siliconia
CEOnicus: Aha! Thou ruttish fly-bitten puttock! Traydbalt, you shalt taste my steel wrath!
Traydbalt: Nay, CEOnicus, I beg you for my life! I am poor and near penniless now! For my gambles have paid me dearly! Woe is my fickle fate!
CEOnicus: Alas, I have not the strength to slay thee! Pity hath seized my heart. Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Traydbalt, is not in our margins, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.
Analysto: To this screed must all subscribe: All’s well that ends well.
Editor’s Note: As explained at length elsewhere on this site, this is a news story written by me that originally appeared on the now-defunct Electronic News’ website, which is long gone. It’s former sister pub Electronic Design News (EDN) currently holds the copyright to all Electronic News copy (to the best of my knowledge). You can still see a copy of this story at EDN.