"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 24 July 1996. Updated every WEEKDAY.

What the Market Will Bare


[Roller Coaster]

Fortified with Dramamine and a

resurgent Dow, the business

pages bent over backwards to

describe the stock market's

recent stomach-churning sessions

in the friendliest of terms: a

real "roller coaster



[Wheel of the Rail]

And why not? Tech issues had been

hauling the indexes to record

highs - when the engine of the

new economy stalled in Silicon

Valley, a dance along the

precipice turned into a

full-force dive, and suddenly

even the blue chips were pulling

Gs in the freefall. Besides,

market junkies live to hold

their sell orders until just

seconds before the bottom drops

out. If something other than a

theme-park ride is going to be

called The Spleen Shredder,

it'll be run by Robertson

Stephens, not Six Flags, and be

parked in Manhattan, not Coney



[Vomit Bag]

But the Wall Street Whizzer isn't

the only place you can get a

shot of adrenaline with a bile

chaser. TV ads for The Drop Zone -

a new vertigo-inducing machine

at Paramount's Great America in

Santa Clara, California -

promise much more than wind in

your face, selling a vertical

drop of 200-plus feet with a

simple but provocative tag line:

"Say hello to your lunch."


[Ten Minutes or Less]

Such happy reunions are, of

course, the greatest danger such

thrill rides can offer. Billed

as a chance to cheat death,

roller coasters are a no-risk

proposition, built using

reinforced steel and time-tested

engineering. You're more likely to don

technicolor hurl than to shuffle off

this mortal coil. On the urban

hazard scale they rank somewhere

between a hot dog and a trip to

Jiffy Lube. An insignificant

missing part delayed the opening

of The Drop Zone for weeks - the

kind of thing that never holds

up mergers or IPOs.


[Fancy Shoes]

Though the dismal science raises

a facade of Lebesgue-measurable

subsets and dynamic hedging, the

professionals can't hide that

what they really do is read

entrails. Asked how he responded

while Standard & Poor were

spilling their guts all over his

tassled loafers, the president

of the New York Stock Exchange

confessed, "I was praying." The

market, of course, was praying

to the porcelain god, filling

balance sheets with fiduciary

upchuck as panic transformed

profitable volatility into a

loss vomitorium.


As with more mundane eating

disorders, bull-market bulimia

builds toward a purge - what one

East Coast pro calls the "puke

stage." The speculative binge

devours the futures, in the form

of low-grade stock options and

401(k)s, of middle-aged middle

managers and Dockers-clad wage

slaves. The cycle spews great

wealth from great emptiness.

Ultimately, the pit in your

stomach can be the light at the

end of the tunnel - if you put

market "corrections" to work for



[Fancy Running Shoes]

Our anxious economy, fed by fear

and loathing and unrealistic

expectations, resembles nothing

so much as a weekend warrior

whose self-esteem has been

kidnapped by Nike's new Zoom Air

cross-trainer. "Who the hell

does Nike think they are?"

demands the print ad, part

tough-love letter, part ransom

note. "Who the hell do you think

you are?" An athletic-shoe

version of the Stockholm

syndrome, the advertisement

first promotes its superstar

spokesmen, the fatcat captors of

our collective psyche. It ends

by celebrating a new kind of

hero, a lean-and-mean marathon

runner, doubled over with the



[Some Real Fancy Running Shoes]

Passion, it seems, is just

another word for the gag reflex.

People afraid of losing their

lunch or their shirt need to

swallow hard and get used to it.

We live in a "wild ride"

economy, a chaotic landscape

where no pain means no gain.

Make yourself sick. Just do it.

courtesy of Bartleby