Christmas Chatter

Christmas Chatter

Christmas Chatter

Moneybox
Commentary about business and finance.
Dec. 23 1998 11:44 AM

Christmas Chatter

All I want for Christmas is ... 1,000 Amazon.com options left over from the IPO, some quality time with Alan Greenspan, one of those Philips plasma-gas flat TVs, a $41-billion bailout package from the IMF, some Russian government bonds (I need to wallpaper the bathrooom), and a Tickle Me Elmo. Boy, I can't wait to unwrap these gifts on Friday.

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In any case, it should be a fun holiday weekend, even if you're not celebrating Christmas, full of relatives bitter over the fact that you assured them that buying eBay at $30 a share was a fool's game and unwilling to console themselves with the fact that it now costs only $3 to fill up your gas tank. And here are your seven holiday Chatter items, meant to be especially useful when you find yourself inadvertently trapped 'neath the mistletoe. Next week, the year in advance.

1. "Generic drug maker Mylan, sued by the FTC for trying to corner the market on two antianxiety drugs, raised the price of 500 tablets of one of the drugs from $11.38 to $377, and the price of 500 tablets of the other drug from $7.30 to $190. A price hike of 3,000 percent. Now that's pricing power!"

2. "Merrill Lynch announced that it was delaying again its first venture into online trading, which it keeps saying it will offer to its wealthiest customers. The company cited the volatility in Nasdaq stocks as a reason. 'I know you have $6 million to invest. But we're afraid if we give you online trading, you'll blow it all on Inktomi.com stock.'"

3. "Dreamworks' latest 'gamble,' Prince of Egypt, opened on Friday and took in just $14 million. Not bad, but not what the studio had been hoping for. Actually, the studio now says that is more than it was hoping for. Dreamworks' spin doctors have been working hard to lower expectations and offer explanations. My favorite was that the movie didn't do as well as it might have because people were home watching the floor debate on Clinton's impeachment. Hey, if every one of the people watching the floor debate had gone to Prince of Egypt instead, how much more would Dreamworks have made?$342?"

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4. "The head of the Bank of Japan came out Tuesday and defended the bank's stability, insisting that it was safer than any bank other than the Federal Reserve. Of course, the impact of his comments was weakened by the fact that just after saying this he was trampled by anxious pensioners."

4a. "Okay, there were no pensioners. But there might have been."

5. "Seagram's acquisition of Polygram is now official, which means that Universal Music and Polygram Music will be merging. Seagram investors are especially excited, since Polygram owns a host of different labels, which means that Seagram CEO Edgar Bronfman will now have the chance to wreck many different companies at once, instead of just one."

6. "Hog futures rose sharply on Tuesday when the government announced it was going to start buying pigs in order to ease excess supply. Shockingly, the conservative Midwestern congressmen whose states will be the most affected offered not a peep of protest at this blatant intrusion into the workings of the free market."

6a. "Remember, pork is the other white meat."

7. "The euro? What the hell is a euro?"