Politics & Policy

The Market Speaks

It's about the money.

The U.S. Supreme Court has concluded that the Florida supreme court was as clear as a toothless crack addict with a cleft palate when it agreed to move the certification deadline. That’s why the U.S. Supreme Court has asked the Florida court to clarify whether their decision was based on the state constitution, state law, or something their imaginary crack genie told them.

What all this means legally I will leave to guys who discovered they had nothing better to do after college but to go to law school. What this means politically is more bad news for Gore (see Rich Lowry’s “What it Might Mean“). Even if their decision stands, the resulting confusion burns more time on the clock. Moreover, the Florida supreme court has just been rapped on the knuckles for essentially doing shoddy work. This further contributes to a climate less and less favorable to the Gore lawyers. If David Boies decides to saunter into court again and demand that the Florida court do his bidding, this time around they might think twice. This reluctance already emerged when they refused to reverse Judge Sauls’s refusal to immediately count “votes.”

But this all overlooks the really important issues at stake here. I am referring, of course, to my money. Having just started down the path to “family man” status, money means a lot to me. Not that it didn’t mean much to me before; I am a journalist, after all, which means that envy and a craven desire for filthy lucre are the only things that keep me off an all-dog-food diet. But now I’m not just thinking about me and Joe (my belly).

I know we’re overdue for a recession. I know Alan Greenspan has been tightening interest rates like a dominatrix with a migraine. I know that the dot-com bubble has burst. But these kinds of things were essentially baked into the cake a long time ago. Al Gore’s decision to push his way into the Oval Office like a Palm Beach old lady at a Filene’s fire sale is hurting the market unnecessarily. The Nasdaq, where most of the all-important GHS — a.k.a. Goldberg-Held-Stocks — reside is down by almost half since their record high in March. Much of that decline has occurred since November 7, when Al Gore decided to put his interests above mine — and the country’s. Since election day, the Nasdaq has dropped around 25%, or nearly a trillion dollars, in value. The political uncertainty coupled with declining economic indicators has been devastating for the GHS.

Before I continue, let me note that I am very unclear about the rules for writing about the market. My understanding is that as long as I fully disclose my interests, I can’t really get in trouble. Just to be extra careful, I should offer the following disclaimer:

Neither National Review nor its subsidiaries (hereafter referred to respectively as “National Review Online” and “Juggz”) nor any of its officers (hereafter referred to as “the suits”) should be held accountable for any opinions on securities-related matters promulgated by me. Further, only persons without the requisite intelligence to chew food and breathe at the same time (hereafter referred to as “Alec Baldwin”) would be stupid enough to take any finance-related advice or suggestions from me with any seriousness.

With all that said, the way I figure it Al Gore owes me a lot of money. Broadcom, a Goldberg Held Stock, was once the linchpin of my portfolio. It has dropped almost 50% since Al Gore refused to let go of the ball. Sure, it’s up nearly 10% today, presumably due to the Supreme Court’s decision, but that only underscores the fact that Al Gore is bad for the most important person writing this column. Most of my other stocks — Human Genome Sciences, EMC, Hughes — are all down, thanks in large part to Al’s selfishness. If Gore doesn’t concede soon I will start buying up as much gold, silver, and Krugerrands as possible — a.k.a. the Pat Buchanan No Growth fund.

It doesn’t end there. More than a year ago I bet NR Senior Editor Ramesh Ponnuru that Al Gore would lose the election. We bet a big dinner at Morton’s. Or maybe it was the Palm. Either way, I was due for some serious booze and cow consumption on somebody else’s dime. At minimum, Gore is delaying my rightful gloating gluttony. But it could be worse than that. Richard Gephardt et al. keep saying that a month from now, some group is going to file a freedom of information request and discover that Gore received more votes. They “fear” that would undermine the legitimacy of the presidency. I fear this will cause me to make like that chick from Growing Pains — or President Bush in Japan — and have to “return” my well-digested porterhouse. Or even — heaven forbid — give back the money. Couldn’t Ramesh claim that Gore didn’t in fact “lose” the election? Rather, Gore would have lost the selection of the president by the electors.

Anyway, I am sure I am not the only person who watches CNBC enough to have the bottom ticker permanently shadow-burned into his retina. Indeed, it’s probable that far more people are concerned with the future of their mutual funds than are concerned about the future occupant of the Oval Office. That’s bad news for Gore, because every day some politically neutral person says on CNBC that the “market wants Bush to win.” People pay attention to that, even as they get tired of Gore behaving like a spoilsport, dragging the courts and everybody else down with him. And there’s nothing in American politics more devastating than a cocktail consisting of equal parts boredom, disdain, and principle, all stirred up by a swizzle stick of financial self-interest.


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