With all five indexes trending down, plus two of three groups of new issues, this month's Investing in Growth Companies paints one of the saddest pictures of the public stock market since INC. started publishing nearly seven years back.Based on the drooping picture here, one might consider renaming the page "Divesting of Growth Companies."

Hey, just kidding! But seriously, just how gloomy ought we to be? Even the Dow Jones Industrials, down only a few points for the month in question, would have been a lot worse were it not for some takeover action that boosted some Dow components over the drying-out mainstream. And, after this column's repeated musings over why the NASDAQ Industrials were keeping their heads above water while the similarly structured INC. Index kept sinking like Brotherhood borrowers who couldn't meet the vigorish, the OTC market at last got its comeuppance, plunging below break-even with a remarkable 21-point loss.

So are we done for? In some ways, possibly. While large companies like General Motors continue to act in exemplary fashion (given the stage setting), and other Big Boarders are becoming yet larger and stronger through mergers, our friends, the small-cap stocks, have a long way to go before they approach respectability and a market turn (should, indeed, one be in the making).

Possibly we are unwilling witnesses to the dawn of a new Industrial Era: that of the four-year corporation. As seven-year locusts are to insects, a startling number of companies that we are all familiar with, but which shall remain nameless here, are to the corporate world. The phenomenon is beginning to set a cycle of about 48 months. Start-ups flourish, grow fat, and then fizzle before they can come up with the next product that will carry them onward and upward. That's why Wall Street is viewing them backward and downward. And likely will continue to do so until events prove otherwise.