A few notes on weight and the financial markets. I have spent a lot of my life walking down Rodeo Drive. Despite "The Beverly Hills Diet," there are still plenty of pudgy men and women strolling the boulevards. I have spent time with men and women from Westchester County, and despite "The Scarsdale Diet," there are still chubs to be seen playing mah-jongg.
The only place I ever go where there are virtually no overweight adult men and women is Wall Street. For years now, I have been trying to track down the secret of their success. Finally, I think I've found it. It has nothing to do with starch blockers or low carbohydrate. It has everything to do with the power of the human mind over the human stomach. Herewith, for your approval, a few of the hints I have taken down for how to lose weight on The Wall Street Diet:
1. Make reservations at a lavish restaurant. La Cirque will do. Plan to eat everything in sight, from the bread to the smoked chicken salad to the lobster. Then, take every cent you have and put it into Baldwin-United common stock. Preferably, do this on the "random walk" theory of investment, that is, without any investigation of the condition of the company. When you see that trading has been halted by the governors of the New York Stock Exchange in your very own Baldwin-United, try to eat even the smallest bite of emince de boeuf.
2. Read an article in The Wall Street Journal that tells you that experts fear that the recovery may be stalled by rising interest rates. Stroke your chin a few times. Decide that you are about to make your fortune by selling short into a gigantic market correction. Sell short everything you can. Then call home and ask that your favorite dish, chicken Kiev with sweet potatoes be made ready for dinner. While you are congratulating yourself on your quick action, read that the Dow-Jones Indusrial Average is up over 24 points in one day. Come home, have three vodka martinis and go to sleep at 7 o'clock. Someone else gets the chicken Kiev.
3. Make plans for an outdoor barbecue at your house in Southampton. Tell the kids to lay in lots of porterhouse steaks for your arrival on Friday afternoon and have those coals glowing hot. Then, take a stroll along Pine Street. Stop in a personal computer store. Notice what fabulous little machines those personal computers are. Take a special liking to the Texas Instruments 99 series. Get back to your office and place yur trust accounts heavily into personal computer stocks, especially TI.
Get up the next morning to see that Texas Instruments has lost almost 40 points in one hour of trading. Start thinking of places that have no extradition treaties for securities crimes. Decide to stay in town all weekend drinking coffee. Tell the kids to give the porterhouse steaks to the dogs.
4. You are a bachelor wheeler-dealer at a hot fund. You see that in one day of risk-arbitrage you have made more money than everyone in your college class makes in 10 years. That same day, you get a new secretary. She is beautiful. In a cheerful, effervescent frame of mind, you ask her to go to lunch with you. At lunch at Harry's you tell her that she really is awfully appealing, and that you would like to take her to dinner somewhere really appealing, too. Perhaps L'Auberge Bretonne near your weekend place in Brewster. "It would help you to learn more about my business, too," you add.
When you get back to the office, you overhear her calling the New York special number for complaints of sexual harassment. You realize from the conversation that the lawyer on the telephone with her is her sister. The only part of the conversation you hear intact is, "This one is going to blow the lid right off Wall Street."
For two weeks, you are lucky if you can eat toast as you contemplate the headlines in the Daily News.
5. You arrange for a two-week tour of the bistros and boites of Mougins. Before you go, just to be on the safe side, you place all of your clients' money in long-term Treasury bonds. As you are boarding the Concorde, you pick up a late paper. It tells you that there is a rumor that money supply growth figures for that month will be triple Fed targets.
As you travel through Provence, you ask each proprietaire if he sells bicarbonate of soda or paregoric. You come back 20 pounds lighter and everyone at work asks you if you had dysentery. "By the way," they add," Volcker looks like he's going to be reappointed. Those bonds are doing great." Your appetite revives just in time for a quick bite of lunch. At Nick's Hamburgers, you are told that there is no Coke, but lots of Pepsi. You go back to your office and have coffee.
As I learn more about the secrets of the captains of finance for keeping slim and trim, I'll keep you posted.