Lewises without Salaries

Fri, 2009/10/16 - 2:11pm | Your editor

Two people named Lewis will not be taking any salary this year. One is Ken Lewis, the soon-to-resign chief honcho at money-losing Bank of America. The other is me. I have foregone a salary because I am funding the restart of this publication. Ken (no relation) has other issues.

Just as Ken Lewis might have stashed away some of his extraordinarily generous pay packets from prior years, I am also getting compensation in a form other than a paycheck. Last month, we hit a big enough level of paid subscribers that I could take back the 5-figure sum I used to re-capitalize my company earlier this year. Read more »

Chutzpah and Rachmones

Thu, 2009/10/15 - 2:13pm | Your editor

     Today we begin with a lesson in Hebrew and Yiddish. You will learn two words, rachmones, meaning pity, and chutzpah, meaning arrogance. The words are the same in both Hebrew and Yiddish.

     After playwright Wendy Wasserstein died young of leukemia, her dealmaker brother Bruce adopted her young daughter. Yesterday the Lazard Freres banker also died prematurely, at 61, of heart disease. Despite her incredible intellectual genes, the little Wasserstein girl is a rachmones. She has to learn to say Kaddish (mourning prayers praising God) in memory of her mother and adopted father. Read more »

Thursday Bookstore

Wed, 2009/10/14 - 3:51pm | Your editor

When I was a very little girl, before I knew how to read, I was fascinated by Business Week, which my father got every Saturday by subscription. The cover was standard: a man's face (always a man then) under a red masthead. I knew my numbers so I would turn to the page the front page jumped to. I wanted to see more pictures of the man and his office and his house and family. I usually was disappointed.

Now a bankrupt Business Week has been sold by the McGraw family (as in McGraw-Hill) to the Bloomberg empire of Hizzoner, the Mayor of NY. My father, who had mainly studied classics in his German Gymnasium, became a corporate executive after fleeing to America from the Nazis, and the magazine helped him learn the language and logic of businessmen in his new homeland. Read more »

Fear of Frankenstein

Tue, 2009/10/13 - 3:50pm | Your editor

    On the morning of Columbus Day (US)/Thanksgiving Day (Can.), however briefly, my personal portfolio reached its high water mark of 2008 summer again. Canada is important, because the loonie, the local currency, is approaching parity with the US$. Now 97 cents, it was only 77 cents a half year ago.

    Later on Monday, the US market unraveled. Let me explain exactly what I mean. My total portfolio, which includes American blue chips and my recommended foreign stocks and funds, plus my IRA, got back to the 7-figure level it was at when I transferred my account to E-trade. Read more »

The Vikings Are Coming!

Mon, 2009/10/12 - 5:51pm | Your editor

     Omigosh. I am being attacked by peace-loving Vikings!


Your editor goofed last week in saying that the Swedish Academy gives out the Nobel Peace Prize and is responsible for selecting Pres. Barack Obama to receive it this year. When Alfred Nobel died, Sweden and Norway were one country. But when Norway won its independence, the Swedes handed the Peace Prize to a committee from the University of Oslo. It is the Norwegians who give out the Peace Prize, to someone designated by 5 unknown Norse academics.


There is a ceremony in Oslo's stripped-down Lutheran cathedral and the King of Norway hands over the medal.

  Read more »

Dear Resident

Fri, 2009/10/09 - 1:59pm | Your editor

To: The Resident

1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20000

United States

Dear Resident:

      This is to inform you that a large sum of money has been left in the will of the late Alfred Nobel, deceased, to anyone at the above address who is not named George W. Bush.

      To collect your prize, please provide us with your confidential bank account details. Read more »

From Stars & Bucks Cafe

Thu, 2009/10/08 - 3:20pm | Your editor

   Frida Ghitis writes: “A few days ago I traveled to a place that, according to the IMF, is on track to post one of the highest rates of economic growth in the world: the West Bank.

    After crossing through the Qalandiyah checkpoint north of Jerusalem I traveled to Ramallah, seat of government for the Palestinian Authority. Life is undoubtedly hell for the people of devastated Gaza. But here in Ramallah, searching for squalor proved fruitless. The city offers a vibrant show of Middle Eastern commerce, complete with impenetrable traffic jams and trendy coffee at Stars and Bucks café, where the cappuccino was steaming and smoothies well chilled.

    Anyone who spends much time in Europe where Arafat-style black and white checkered Arab head-dresses and scarves are all the rage will be disappointed to discover those Keffiyahs are nowhere in sight in Ramallah. Young men wear their hair stylishly gelled. No Keffiyah. Read more »

The Glitter and the Gold

Wed, 2009/10/07 - 2:28pm | Your editor

Everything which glitters is not gold.

A rumor triggered the rise in gold prices to $1040/oz yesterday and it was nonsense. The gossip was that Middle Eastern countries wanted to price oil (black gold) in terms of yellow gold rather than the dollar. This has been bruited by Hugo Chavez but never taken seriously by OPEC.

The main reason is that there is not enough gold out there to finance more than a day or two of the oil trade.

Today the greenback has bounced back from some of the low levels reached after the Australian Central Bank started raising interest rates. This may feed into lower gold prices. The price of gold has tended to move inversely to the dollar in recent years. Read more »

Israel and Australia

Tue, 2009/10/06 - 1:50pm | Your editor

Don't worry, Israel. Australia stands besides you! The Reserve Bank of Australia today raised interest rates to 3.25% from 3%. It became the first OECD country to tighten monetary policy, although Israel did this in August.

Expect more short covering. Shorts had to cover yesterday because the Institute of Supply Management reported higher services orders, the first score showing expansion of demand (above 50) in a year. At 50.8, it was ahead of expectations.
Read more »


Mon, 2009/10/05 - 1:51pm | Your editor

How clever I was to study Portuguese now that Rio de Janeiro was designated for the Olympics in 2016! All those years wrestling with the complex grammar at the Fundação Gulbenkian can pay off with lots of trips. First I am going to sail from Manaus, on the River Amazon, over Christmas this year.

Then in 2012 I can go back to Rio for the 20th anniversary of the 1982 Earth Summit (which I attended). And In 2014 I get to go to the World Cup. (Soccer.)

The investment message for a Lusitanophone is probably mixed. We are already heavily overweight in Brazil as paid subscribers know. I am not sure that the increased exposure in the teens decade will really bring in more investor money. Yes, a US visa costs $130; yes, there are great opportunities for purse and camera snatchers and jewel thieves descending from the favelas to pickpocket sports and eco fans. And for lots of cops to protect the visitors. Read more »