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Ma & Pa Wield Wall Street Power

Joe and Marge Fisher are riding today's roller coaster stock market, reports CBS News Correspondent Diana Olick. At their New York auto parts store last month, this mom and pop insisted a drop in the market wouldn't scare them off.

"We're in it for the long term. You only lose if you sell," said Marge Fisher.

Unlike even a decade ago, today's market is fueled by millions of small investors, like Joe and Marge Fisher. Many are inexperienced and many have never seen a major downturn.

So how will they react, with patience or panic?

What these small investors do is critical. Seventy million Americans now own stocks directly. Millions more have a stake in Wall Street through 401k and pension funds.

With the collective power of those numbers, some who run pension funds say it's best to stay put.

"Everyone is a little bit nervous because in the last few days the stock market has been volatile," says Alan Havesi, the New York City Comptroller. "But if you sit where we sit as long term investors, you've got to have faith in the future."

So far they seem not just cool and calm, but expecting to collect on the market's misfortunes.

Reported by Diana Olick
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