Chit Chat

Chit Chat

Chit Chat

Moneybox
Commentary about business and finance.
June 19 1998 2:02 PM

Chit Chat

I have only this to say: It cannot be the weekend already. If Friday really is here, though, and if the prospect of hours of conversation about The X-Files movie is getting you down, perhaps our weekly Cocktail Chatter list--seven conversation openers designed to demonstrate your command of the week in business--will brighten your spirits. If not, complaints may be directed to letters@slate.com. Without further ado--aside from this sentence, which is all ado--the envelope, please.

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1. "Before Amazon.com's stock tumbled today, its market cap was actually bigger than Barnes & Noble, which does business offline as well as online. Apparently, the Street thinks that all those B&N stores are worth less than nothing."

1a. "'Does business offline': that's like the way we used to say `natural grass' in the 1970s, as if `grass' was no longer descriptive enough on its own."

2. "At one point this week, oil prices fell below $12 a barrel. Remember when OPEC promised that it was going to curb production, and everyone bid the price up? (for a reminder of how oil prices slipped from OPEC's grasp, click here.) The funny thing is that even Venezuela, the most notorious backslider, has apparently lived up to its promises, but the price keeps falling. Rumor has it that no one drives in Asia anymore, except for IMF officials."

3. "It's interesting that the Street didn't overreact to the death of the tobacco bill. I guess most people remember that what happened in Congress didn't do anything to change the permanently looming threat of billion-dollar liability suits."

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4. "The thing about former Sunbeam CEO Al Dunlap that I never quite understood was that he would wear dark sunglasses indoors. And not Ray-Bans, either. I'm sure that contributed to the Sunbeam board's impatience with his endless series of prevarications about how well the company was doing."

5. "I'm suffering South Park withdrawal symptoms."

6. "Here's something else I don't quite get: Why would reporters for CNBC make comments like 'We need the Dow to stay up more than 150 in order to really sustain this rally'? Reporters, cheerleaders: there is a difference, right?"

7. "Most interesting sight of the week, without question: Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin having a public argument on banking reform in a Senate conference room. It was just the sort of discussion that no one ever gets to see anymore, a genuine intellectual disagreement about substantive issues. Of course, all the senators wanted them to do was reach some sort of consensus. 'Isn't there some middle ground here?'"

Feel free to modify these as you see fit to suit your own conversational style. Happy chatting.