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Contributed by Bill Bonner
Publisher of: The Fleet Street Letter



Today:  Thanksgiving

*** The Nasdaq - down 5 sessions in a row...45% below its 
high - but, where's the bear market?

*** Gloat while you can...who knows what tomorrow will bring 
- no cheers at Yahoo! 

*** Harley gets chopped...ugly gold stocks starting to look 
pretty good...what happened to savings?...and more!

*** The Nasdaq fell for the 5th straight session - down 116 
points. And the Dow fell too - dropping 95 points. This is 
bad news for the bulls. There is usually a rally just before 
Thanksgiving. But investors acted yesterday as if they had a 
turkey's dread of the upcoming holiday. 

*** The Nasdaq closed at 2,755 - 45% below the high set on 
March 10 of 5,048. Yahoo lost $3.50. CMGI hit a new low. AOL 
dropped almost $2. Oracle was off 6%. Internet 
sector index fell 6.4%.

*** Gloat, gloat, gloat - Oh, what a delicious sensation... 
this schadenfroh! CacheFlow fell 50%. Novell dropped almost 
20%. Intuit lost 9%. And Portal Software got whacked like a 
Thanksgiving turkey - with a 63% loss. Strip naked and roll 
around in it, take a deep breath and let it fill your lungs 
with it's sweet fragrance...let it caress your body like a 
Thai bar girl after a night of drunken excess... 

The market will make fools of us let's enjoy 
ourselves tonight!

*** Uh...well, the auto companies are idling plants...GM, 
and supplier Dana, just hit new 52-week lows. I mentioned 
both of these companies several months ago as examples of 
`darned cheap' stocks. Did I forget to tell you that they 
might get darned cheaper?

*** There were twice as many declining stocks as advancing 
ones on the NYSE. On the Nasdaq the ratio was nearly 3 to 1.

*** All over the world - London, Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo and 
Hong Kong - stocks fell. The world's largest company - GE - 
fell below $50. Harley Davidson fell $2. Harley is a faddish 
stock that is almost certain to be chopped in two.

*** But not all the news from Wall Street is negative. 
"This year," reports my friend John Mauldin, "Managed Care 
as a group is up 72%. Hospital Management is up 52%. Defense 
stocks are up 52%. Homebuilding (of all things!) is up 46%. 
Insurance (boring!) is up 40%. Oil and Gas (no surprise) is 
up 40%. Airlines are up 34%. Alcoholic beverages are up 32%. 
Drugs up 28%. Even Manufacturing is up a respectable 12%. 
(stats courtesy of"

"So, what's my point?" asks John, "Where's the bear market? 
Only in a few over-heated sectors like technology and the 
Internet. Now we are seeing fiber optics and the related 
stocks come crashing down as well."

*** John is right. Not all investors have suffered. But 
then, this bear market is probably just getting started. 

*** And so far this week the best performing group is the 
XAU - the gold mining companies, easily one of the ugliest 
sectors of the market since 1993. The XAU index rose 7%, 
Monday-Wednesday. Newmont gained a dollar yesterday. ASA and 
Homestake both rose about 50 cents. 

*** Natural gas rose to a 10-year high yesterday - up 2.4%. 
Inventories fell 3.4% last week, about 30% more than 

*** The economic news was mixed yesterday. Jobless claims 
jumped 2.1% last week. But surveys show that employers 
intend to add jobs in the first quarter...and retailers are 
struggling to find workers. At a recent job fair in Santa 
Monica 19-year-olds said they wouldn't work for less than 
$10 per hour - anything below that "wasn't worth it."

*** Now that the old economy seems to be coming back into 
favor, will the old economic rules also make a comeback? 
"The American aversion to saving," said Atlanta Fed boss 
Jack Guynn yesterday, "has the potential to take a toll on 
the national economy." The saving rate in 1996 - among the 
lowest in the world - was just 4.8%. But savings almost 
disappeared completely this year...the rate dropping to 
0.3%. "It's the pool of savings," Guynn observed, "that 
provides the general capital to finance the growth of the 

*** "Around the world," adds economist Paul Krugman, "bond 
investors have been fleeing from anything that looks even 
vaguely risky." Interest rates for emerging market borrowers 
and junk corporate issuers "are at their highest levels in 
nearly a decade," says Krugman. And the spread between 
Treasuries and junk is the highest since the Asian currency 
crisis of 1998. "These soaring rates on risky debt are," 
Krugman concludes, "a prophecy of future troubles for the 
world economy."

*** On October 18th, the Financial Times reported that 
Sprint became the first telecom to re-price its employee 
stock options. Options have been a favorite trick of 
`degenerate capitalism' - shifting operating expenses to the 
balance sheet. Profits go up, but the company gets weaker.

*** Another phenomenon has been what the credit industry 
calls "cession," - in which credit risk is passed from the 
person who generated it to a third party. A local banker 
might once have been able to judge for himself the 
likelihood that the farmer sitting in front of him would be 
able to repay his loan. But now loans are repackaged for the 
derivative market - and sold to an investor without a clue. 
It is fast money for the banker...and the credit risk is 
somebody else's problem. 

*** A website giving legal information on-line reports that 
bankruptcy became the leading subject of inquiry during the 
month of October. 35% of visitors asked questions relating 
to consumer debt hit $1.5 trillion.

*** The world's first millionaires appeared in Paris 300 
years ago, says Janet Gleeson's book, The Moneymakers. Now 
there are 7 million millionaires in America alone. 600,000 
Americans have more than $5 million. Getting rich is no 
longer a source of distinction. 


"Money, money,'s a rich man's world," proclaimed 
a song Maria and I heard on Thanksgiving eve - while eating 
at a creperie on the rue St. Honore. Maria takes a ballet 
class with Mia Fry not far from my office. So she stops in 
on Wednesday evening and we have dinner together.

Maria went to a party at a very rich friend's country house 
last weekend. The friend is, I believe, one of dozens of 
Saudi princesses living in Paris and London. She is 
delivered to school, and picked up, by her family chauffeur. 
Even when she goes to the movies with her friends, the 
chauffeur takes them.

Wealth is relative, as we all know. Maria - comparing her 
lot to the Saudi royal family - feels poor. Our apartment is 
too small, she says, and there are too many of us in it. We 
don't have a maid. Our car is not at all fancy. All of this 
seemed to come together early in the week. "I hate this 
place," she said, with the ire of a 14-year-old after coming 
home on Monday.

But Maria's father, who grew up in a house with barely-
functioning plumbing, feels relatively rich. Though both of 
us live in the same family, we appreciate our financial 
circumstances in entirely different ways. I am content. She 
is not.

So Maria went off to the party hoping to meet a rich Saudi 
prince - or so she said. Alas, it was not to be. "It was 
fun," she told me last night, "but there were only a few 
guys there - and they were a little dorky." 

Later, walking home, she took my arm. 

"I don't know why I was so cranky yesterday," she said. "I 
don't know whether we're rich or poor, but I feel pretty 
lucky," she said on Thanksgiving eve. "Gala's parents are 
divorced. And Martine's Dad is always gone away on business. 
At least you're here...and you're not too dorky."

This, dear reader, was as close as a sentimental father can 
come to pure bliss - and on Thanksgiving eve.

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THANKSGIVING, First Aired November 25th, 1999

I turned to my trusty assistant...Beirne White...this 

"Beirne," I said gravely, "tell me about Thanksgiving in

Beirne proceeded to tell me about a Mississippi bluesman 
named "Son" House, who lived to be 102 by doing what 
bluesmen tended to do...chasing bad luck, bad liquor and bad 

"What has that to do with Thanksgiving?" 

"Nothing," he replied...whereupon he drew on the resources
generously provided by, formerly of Chicago,
lately of cyber space, to get me the research I requested. 

Beirne hails from Mississippi. And while Mississippians will 
sit down with the rest of the nation...and tuck into their 
turkeys with equal relish...perhaps only substituting 
Bourbon Pecan pie for the sweet potato or pumpkin pie 
enjoyed in was not always so. Somewhere deep 
in the most primitive part of his medulla oblongata, the 
part of the brain where race memories are stored, Beirne 
resists Thanksgiving. It is, after all, a Yankee holiday. 

In the middle of the war between the states, both sides 
would proclaim days of "thanksgiving," following the 
progress of the war as we now follow the progress of the 
stock market. After each of the first and second battles of 
Bull Run-which sent the Yankees fleeing back to Washington-
the Confederates proclaimed days of thanksgiving. But it was 
Lincoln's day that stuck. Declared after the battle of 
Gettysburg-the last great Napoleonic charge of military 
history-Thanksgiving was set for the third Thursday in the 
month of November, commemorating the Northern victory. 

Beirne doesn't say so...but this fact must stick in his 
craw. It doesn't help that the original celebration took 
place in Massachussetts. And that it was hosted by a dour 
bunch of Puritans, who probably wouldn't have been able to 
enjoy a good dinner if their lives depended on it. But they 
certainly had a lot to be thankful for. 

As the Wall Street Journal reminds us annually, they nearly 
exterminated themselves in typical Yankee fashion-by wanting 
to boss each other around. They had arrived in Massachusetts 
by accident and bad seamanship, intending to settle in the 
more hospitable climate of Virginia, which had been 
colonized more than 10 years before. Once in Massachussetts
they proceeded to set up a such a miserable community that
surely most of them, had they lived, would have longed to 
return to England. The Soviets could have learned from their 
example and spared themselves 70 years of misery. Only after 
the "witch burners and infant damners" abandoned their 
communal form of organization, and allowed people to work 
for themselves, did the colony have a prayer of survival. 

But victors write the history books. And now this precarious 
celebration by a feeble group of religious zealots has 
turned into the most American holiday. After Appomattox, the 
South was helpless. Its natural leaders, the plantation 
aristocrats, were either dead, bankrupted and/or 

Many of them went to Northern cities, like New York or 
Baltimore, where, Mencken tells us, they "arrived with no 
baggage save good manners and empty bellies." They enriched 
the North. But back home, they were sorely missed. "First 
the carpetbaggers," says Mencken, "ravaged the land...and 
then it fell into the hands of the native white trash..." 
Scars of war can take a long time to heal. But 130 years 
later, the South is the most economically and culturally 
robust part of the nation. 

Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday in 1931. 
Through the Depression, and then WWII, Thanksgiving grew in 
importance. In a country where roots meant almost nothing, 
where people were ready to pick up and move at the drop of a 
hat, where there were huge differences in what people 
thought and how they lived, Thanksgiving served to provide a 
unified, national myth... most popularly expressed in Norman 
Rockwell's Thanksgiving cover for the Saturday Evening Post. 
Roots mean more in Mississippi than they do in California. 

"No man is himself," said Oxford, Mississippi's most 
celebrated alcoholic, "he is the sum of his past." Unlike so 
many other American writers of the 20th century, Faulkner 
stayed home. The forward to the "encyclopedia of southern 
culture" has a passage from Faulkner, saying: "Tell about 
the South. What's it like there. What do they do there. Why 
do they live there. Why do they live at all." 

Even in Faulkner's Mississippi...Thanksgiving is now part of
everyone. Where Beirne goes too. And so, all over 
the world, Americans, gathering in small groups, like 
pilgrims on distant shores, celebrate the holiday (if not on 
the actual day...perhaps the weekend we will 
do.) This can require a little ingenuity. Americans in 
France have to search for the ingredients. Pumpkins are hard 
to pronounce-citrouilles-and hard to find. Cranberry sauce 
is unknown. 

But my mother discovered a store in Paris specializing in 
American groceries, named "the Real McCoy." She hastened 
thither yesterday, and brought back canned pumpkin, 
cranberry sauce and peanut butter. Thanks to this outpost of 
American culinary supplies, we will be able to have a very 
typical Thanksgiving dinner went we slide our chairs up to 
the table on Sunday. 

Art Buchwald has translated the Thanksgiving story for the
French, deftly turning Captain Miles Standish into Le 
Capitaine Kilometre Deboutish. But no one has refashioned 
American Thanksgiving recipes for the metric measuring cups 
here in France. My wife, Elizabeth, descendant of the 
Puritan fathers...former resident of New York...a Yankee-in 
other words...and my mother - issuing from Southern Maryland 
tobacco farmers and the French bourgeoisie - will do their 

And we will be thankful. 

Bill Bonner
About The Daily Reckoning:
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Bill Bonner, recognized internationally as a brilliant writer, entrepreneur
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Bonner writes his email letter from Paris, France, each morning --
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Last modified: April 01, 2001

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