Weekend Cocktail Chatter

Weekend Cocktail Chatter

Weekend Cocktail Chatter

Moneybox
Commentary about business and finance.
Dec. 10 1998 5:50 PM

Weekend Cocktail Chatter

Damn, is it the weekend already? Actually, that's what every NFL ref must be saying today, since every pro football game is now a chance for them to blow an important call and give undeserving teams undeserved victories. The rest of us, though, get to eat, drink, and be merry, as the holiday party season gets into full swing. Everyone's portfolio should be in good shape now, unless you were one of the ones who sold at the bottom and then couldn't bring yourself to get back in until the Nasdaq was up 40 percent from its October low. And even as Brazil teeters on the brink of devaluation, we know that Santa Greenspan will keep the holiday cheer following. And so, on to the Chatter!

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1. "Would-be Internet titan PinkMonkey.com, which now bills itself as the Amazon.com of the literature-study-guide world (that is, the world of guides for high school kids who don't want to read Wuthering Heights), saw its stock come back to earth this week after it rose 1500 percent last week thanks to .com frenzy. The company still has a market cap of almost $100 million, though. Last week it sold $200 worth of books. I'm telling you, this Slate.com IPO is a great idea."

2. "Check out Thursday's Wall Street Journal for a huge survey of American attitudes toward everything from sporting events to free trade. Among the findings: 1 percent of people with incomes over $100,000 are 'not sure' if they're satisfied with their financial situations. 'It really depends on the day, I tell ya. Sometimes I think I'd be happier working at Fatburger.' "

3. "As for the Journal's op-ed page, it ran a piece yesterday accompanied by a neat little logo--implying it was part of a series--that read 'Time to Cut Taxes.' Since every op-ed piece published in the history of the Wall Street Journal has called for a tax cut, the logo might be considered just a bit redundant."

4. "Long-Term Capital Management, the formerly troubled hedge fund, has seen the value of its portfolio rise more than $400 million since it was taken over by a consortium of investment banks. How long will it be before the bankers who were attacked for bailing out Long-Term are attacked for being vultures who took advantage of the hedge fund? ... Actually, I believe 'When hell freezes over' is the appropriate answer to that question."

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5. "Microsoft ran huge ads in the Times and the Journal Thursday filled with quotes--they looked kind of like review blurbs--explaining why the government's antitrust suit was a bad idea. Here's who was cited: Milton Friedman, the Journal's editorial board, an op-ed piece in the Journal, the conservative Boston Herald, and the strikebreaking Detroit News . Wouldn't including someone who's not an antigovernment fanatic--I mean true believer--help make these ads more convincing?"

6. "Sony gave the heads of its music and motion pictures divisions titular promotions, but then installed Howard Stringer to oversee both divisions, so that neither Tommy Mottola nor John Calley will report directly to Tokyo anymore. 'Hey, now you're chairman and not just president! And guess what else? You have a new boss!' "

7. "Analysts now expect the companies in the S&P 500 to grow earnings by 18 percent in 1999. Given global economic conditions, the only way this could be accurate is if we're going to be colonizing a new planet in January and American companies are going to be exclusive suppliers to this previously untapped market."