Dow 10,000: It Ain't What It Used to Be

Now that the Dow Jones Industrial Average has remained comfortably above the key psychological 10,000 level for a couple of months, reader Carl G. from Idaho has suggested I compare the Dow 10K of 2010 with the Dow 10K of 1999, when it first crossed that barrier. Whenever I discuss the stock market and purchasing power -- that is, what you could buy in the real world if you sold your shares -- some readers inevitably protest that the DJIA's nominal number -- 10,000, 12,000, etc. -- is all that matters.