Cocktail Chatter

Cocktail Chatter

Cocktail Chatter

Moneybox
Commentary about business and finance.
Sept. 24 1998 5:57 PM

Cocktail Chatter

Next time you go to the casino, and dump a couple of grand, just drop Fed chairman Alan Greenspan a note, convince him your financial well-being is essential to the future of the casino economy, and perhaps you too can have your own Fed-orchestrated bailout just like Long-Term Capital Management. That hedge fund just got $3.5 billion in cash from a group of banks that really didn't want to give it the money but finally did. Remember that the next time you think about pressing a bet at the craps table.

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Anyway, the weekend has arrived, the Dow is as hyperactive as ever, and there's just a lot to talk about at this weekend's parties. Here, then, are some hints.

1. "Internet stock mania is back. Amazon.com, Yahoo, Excite, they're all jumping again. Now the new theory is that these companies don't have any exposure to global turmoil. Hey, neither does my local cobbler. Maybe he should think about going public."

2. "John Meriwether is renaming his fund. Herewith, Long-Term Capital will be called the 'Alan Greenspan is Santa Claus and We Love Him' Fund."

3. "The Fed decided to approve the merger between Citicorp and Travelers, which should be completed sometime next month. As a condition of the merger, executives of the new Citigroup had to promise to take John Meriwether out to dinner for some comfort food."

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4. "There are no safe havens left among the consumer giants, with the exception of GE. Disney, crushed. Gillette, crushed. Coke, crushed. Do you think Warren Buffett secretly jumped out of all these stocks a few months ago, and is now chuckling as he drinks Evian, watches Dreamworks pictures, and grows a beard?"

5. "How about E*Bay? Goes public on Thursday, watches its stock rise 29 points in a single day. What chance is there that E*Bay is an Internet stock? What chance is there that E*Bay doesn't know when it will make a profit? And what chance is there that a year from now we won't even remember that this company exists?"

6. "If the Federal Reserve doesn't cut rates on Tuesday as the market now expects it will, what happens? It seems possible that the sell-off could make last October look minor. That makes you wonder whether it's Greenspan's call anymore. It may be that the market has forced his hand."

7. "Talking to an emerging-markets guy on the Street yesterday, he said, 'It's so much worse than anyone knows.' I didn't like the sound of that. It conjured up the image of analysts using a Ouija board to ask the demons of investing where the market was going next."