There is a certain insanity going on in the country at this moment which cannot be diagnosed by any doctor. If you don't believe me, take a look at what happened on Wall Street last Friday. All week long we saw and heard nothing but bad news about the economy, inflation, the national deficit, the fall of the dollar etc., etc.
Then on Friday, Wall Street went ape, traded 52 million shares of stock in one day, and the market went through the roof. It was hard to believe that the men and women who drove up the Dow Jones by 20 points were watching the same economic news as the rest of the country.
As soon as I heard about it I called a friend on Wall Street to find out what was going on.
He sounded very giddy on the phone. "They're buying everything. Zip a dee dooda!"
"I know that," I said. "But why are they buying?"
"You know Thompson, who manages all of Glutton Insurance Co.'s investment portfolio?"
"No, I don't know him," I said.
"He started it. He'd been sitting on $2 billion worth of cash, and not doing a damn thing with it. Well, he went to the health club on Friday morning and suddenly started screaming, "I can't take it any longer. I've got to buy something.' Then he went running down Wall Street in the nude yelling, 'Buy! Buy! Buy! I'm going to buy everything.'"
"Did they lock him up?"
"Lock him up? I should say not. Everybody started taking off their clothes, too. They figured Thompson knew something they didn't.
"Pretty soon we were all dancing in the street. The big guys from the mutual funds, the pension trusts and the banks were running around naked screaming at their brokers to buy any stock they could get their hand on. Panic broke out, and money managers, who were playing gin rummy for a penny a point, were throwing orders for millions of dollars out their windows. The brokers got on their phones to the little guys and told them the big guys were buying. That's all the little guys had to hear, and they started buying too. I've never seen anything like it."
"You mean to say because one person went nuts in a steam room the entire financial community went berserk?"
"Right. We always knew that's all it would take. If we could just get one of the big guys to go off his wagon, everyone else would follow suit. Nobody likes to be left behind on Wall Street when someone takes his clothes off and starts buying stocks. When the word got out that Thompson of Glutton Insurance had lost his marbles it started an avalanche of business the likes of which none of us ever seen."
"Where is Thompson now?" I said.
"Someone threw a blanket around him so he wouldn't catch a cold."
"But doesn't anyone up there know what's going on in Washington now?"
"We don't care what's going on in Washington . We were desperate for action. An investor can't sit on billions of dollars forever - something has to give. If it hadn't been Thompson, it would have been somebody else. Everyone was cracking up from the boredom, but Thompson was the first one to completely flip."
"What's all that noise I hear in the background?"
Merrill Lynch has just unleashed a thundering herd of cattle on Wall Street, and they're goring everyone in sight."
Why did they do that?"
Because Merrill Lynch is bullish on America again."
"It all seems too good to be true," I said. "What happens when Thompson sobers up and decides he wants Glutton Insurance out of the stock market again?"