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Contributed by Bill Bonner
Publisher of: The Fleet Street Letter

MONDAY, 14 MAY 2001 


Today:  Episcopalian's Guide To Sex

*** Good news...but the market doesn't like it. What
will Greenspan do tomorrow? Will he find the magic
interest rate?

*** Consumers living beyond their means...but for
how much longer?

*** Bonds falling...Amazon sued...Mary much
meeker...The return of 'Emerging Economies'...and

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*** Two bits of good news had a depressing effect on
the market on Friday. Consumer sentiment improved in
April and retail sales were up. Investors worried
that the good news would keep Greenspan & Co. from
cutting rates tomorrow.

*** "Consumers are still living beyond their means,"
happily observed one financial commentator. Consumer
spending rose 3% over the last 2 quarters. But
disposable incomes didn't even rise half as much.
They were up only 1.3% over the period.

*** How long can this continue? With more and more
layoffs, much higher utility bills, more debts to
service... and a rising cost of living - something's
got to give. Schumpeter described what happened to
investors and consumers in the period following the
'29 crash. They stood their ground, he said, until,
"the ground gave way beneath them."

*** In all likelihood, Chairman Greenspan still sees
enough signs that the economy is struggling to
justify lowering interest rates yet again when the
FOMC meets tomorrow. Of course, there are plenty of
signs to justify not lowering interest rates, too.

*** For example: bonds fell again on Friday. If the
bond market is the inflation barometer that many
investors believe it to be, then the steadily rising
yields on the 10-year bond indicate an inflationary
high-pressure system headed our way. The 10-year now
yields about 5.45%, the highest in about six months.

*** Both the Dow and the Nasdaq yielded ground on
Friday. The Dow fell 89 points while the Nasdaq
dropped 21 points. For the week the Nasdaq fell four
out of five trading sessions and lost a total of 84
points to finish at 2,107.

*** Scott McNealy, the head of Sun Microsystems,
does not talk like a guy who is confident that the
worst has passed: "People are claiming that they're
seeing the bottom. I don't know where they're
getting that data. They certainly didn't see the
cliff, so how in the world can they see the bottom?"

*** "While corporate profits in the United States
seem to have reached a peak and will probably
continue to disappoint," writes the DR Blue Team's
Marc Faber from China, "in emerging Asian economies,
corporate profits appear to have reached a major
low... from which a recovery could actually exceed
investors' expectations." (See:
Looking For Value Outside The US Note: You must be a Daily Reckoning Blue Service reader to access this article.)

*** The latest Fortune magazine cover features a
close-up photo of Morgan Stanley Internet analyst
Mary Meeker behind the headline, "Can we ever trust
Wall Street again?" Here at the Daily Reckoning,
we're tempted to ask: "Whoever trusted it in the
first place?"

*** Fortune writes, "Mary Meeker was by far the most
important voice for the Internet - and the notion
that companies without earnings could transform the
world and climb to the moon. That was then. Today
Meeker, 41, has become something else entirely: the
single most powerful symbol of how Wall Street can
lead investors astray. For the past year, as
Internet stocks have crumbled and entire companies
have vaporized, Meeker has maintained the same
upbeat ratings for companies on her list of 'buys.'
Among the stocks she has never downgraded are
Priceline, Amazon, Yahoo, and Freemarkets - all of
which have declined between 85 percent and 97
percent from their peak.

*** "What you realize in talking to Meeker is,"
continues Fortune, "the extent to which... keeping
companies happy and giving investors honest stock
advice... are now organically intertwined. She talks
unashamedly, for instance, about how she used her
research to help land banking deals for Morgan

*** No surprise then that lawyers representing
Sagamore Hill Capital Management filed a class-
action suit against Amazon, Morgan Stanley and
others. Sagamore Hill invested as much as $35
million in convertible bonds, relying on
what it claims were "untrue statements" and
"omissions of material facts."

*** The latest numbers from the Labor Dept., you
will recall, show that people are working more and
producing less. What kind of New Era is this? "The
reality of the productivity explosion," writes Floyd
Norris in the NY Times, "was that it was
concentrated in the information technology industry.
Some of that rise was not real anyway, since the
government's statistical adjustments probably
exaggerated the improvements in computers."

*** But asking bureaucrats about productivity is a
little like asking nuns about sex. They know it
goes on, but they have no direct experience with it.
Instead, it's just a matter of conjecture...and
perhaps a little bit repugnant. More below...

*** "Silver is elegant. Gold, beautiful. But when it
comes to power, wealth and prestige, you can't touch
Platinum," our resource man John Myers writes.
"Yearly production is so low, even a small discovery
can propel a company from the pink sheets to the
front page." John thinks he's found a Canadian
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"No one knows what goes on behind closed doors."

Charlie Rich

Throughout all of Christendom, no group has more
attractive churches - nor more fetching women - than

I say this after attending a service at the American
Cathedral of Paris - a huge edifice tarted up in the
ecclesiastical style of the 19th century.

Paris is full of Episcopalians. Sure, there must be
a few Baptists and evangelicals drinking grape juice
in some stifling basement in a bad neighborhood.
But, here on the swanky Avenue George V, hundreds of
Episcopalians (and a few Anglicans) gather each week
- and put on a great show. Episcopalians love Paris.
It is the world's most beautiful city...and
Episcopalians appreciate it.

Baptists can put up with ugly churches, bad food and
teetotalism. After all, life is just a short passage
on their way to heaven, like a crowded subway car
you take to get to a good restaurant. You don't mind
standing up for a while, if it leads to a cushy seat
in paradise.

But Episcopalians, unsure of the promise of heaven
and suspicious of the threat of hell, don't like to
take chances. Enjoy the trip...who knows where it

Elizabeth and I had dinner at La Rotonde restaurant
at La Muette on Friday night. We sat outside,
admiring the trees, the people, the fragrance of the
nearby park and the soft light of late evening.

"It's so beautiful when spring comes," Elizabeth
said, respiring heavily, "it's like falling in love
or eating too much chocolate." Last week, the city
threw off the gray overcoat of the long winter and

On the sidewalk, not far away, a young couple
enjoyed a long kiss, of the sort that would be
described as a "French kiss" in America. The whole
city seems alive, aroused, pulsing with new life.

Indeed, Paris is saturated with sex - drenched with
it, as though after a warm spring downpour. Hence,
today's soggy letter. I know no more about sex than
I do about the stock market. But I have spent more
time thinking about it.

Last week, at the office, for example, sex was
forced upon me. I opened an e-mail which somehow
took me to a porn site. Those clever porno mongers
had figured out not only how to get me there...but
how to keep me. Each click took me to another site -
there was no way out. Finally, after a very long
time, I had to turn my computer off.

If information is really the key to success...people
looking at porn sites must have the best sex lives
of any creatures in history. My brief excursion into
web porno-land invited me to check out "Asian
Hotties"... teenaged something or others and "Yo
Mammas." Neither race nor age was any barrier. "Old
Ladies" were just a click away at one point. And
another click offered "Animal Acts" (though, I
admit, I saw no place to click for "Vegetable Acts"
nor "Mineral Acts" - suggesting a gap in the market
and an opportunity for someone.)

Even the respectable press is in Full Disclosure
mode. An article in Figaro Magazine shows two
middle-aged Paris intellectuals - a husband and wife
team - in bed. Each has written a bare-all book. His
book features a photo of his wife's derriere on the
cover. Hers provides readers with a blow-by-blow
chronicle of her sex life.

Sex never seems to go out of style. Still, fashions
change in sex just as they do in the stock market.
When the bull market was at its throbbing climax,
Ted Turner described deal making as "better than
sex." Now that deals are more difficult to pull
off, sex seems to be making a comeback.

How often should you have sex?

"As often as possible," comes the mob's reply. But
Episcopalians realize that quality is more important
than quantity. Ask yourself, which would you prefer:
A single night with Bush foreign policy advisor,
Condoleeza Rice, in a wispy negligee...or a whole
month with "Stormin' Norman" Schwartzkopf in full
battle gear?

In most Episcopal churches, you would get an even
show of hands for either choice. More is not
necessarily better. Like everything else about sex,
it depends on the context, the details, and the

After all, the mechanics of sex are pretty simple -
everything you need to know can be picked up by an
18 year old in just a few minutes. It's the romantic
details that really matter. But, like fragile spring
wildflowers, these nuances d'amour are almost
impossible to grow commercially or in an open field.
Instead, they need a little shadow...and the dark of
night. Or they wither in the harsh light of day.

Your Episcopalian correspondent,

Bill Bonner

About The Daily Reckoning:

Daily Reckoning author Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner is, in spite of himself, a natural born contrarian. Early each morning, Bill writes The Daily Reckoning—his take on the financial markets and what’s going on in the world—and sends it off by e-mail before most Americans’ alarm clocks have buzzed. Many readers say it's the first thing they want to read when they get up—not only because it's informative and thought provoking, but also it's inspiring, in its own quirky and provocative way.

Of course, there's much more to Bill than his daily market commentary. He's also the founder and president of Agora Publishing, one of the world's most successful consumer newsletter publishing companies. Bill's passion for international travel and big ideas are reflected in the company he's successfully built. In 1979, he began publishing International Living and Hulbert's Financial Digest . Since then, the company has grown to include dozens of newsletters focusing on health, travel, and finance. Bill has vigorously expanded from Agora's home base in Baltimore, Maryland since the early ’90s—opening offices in Florida, London, Paris, Ireland, and Germany.

Agora's publication subsidiaries include Pickering & Chatto, a prestigious academic press in London and Les Belles Lettres in Paris, best known as a publisher of classical literature in bilingual editions.


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Last modified: May 16, 2001

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