Interview with a Vampire
By Jesse Czelusta (from the November 2002 issue of Index Rx)
OK, we give up. After 3 years of publication, during which time we have
left our market benchmarks in the dust and produced outstanding returns for our
faithful subscribers, we have come to realize one essential business fact:
performance doesn't sell newsletters, marketing does. So we're trashing our
proven models, donning our salesman attire, consulting with hairstylists, and no
longer focusing on what works but instead on what sells. As such, we are pleased
to announce the premiere of our new television series, "Wall Street is Weak,"
which will air this coming Thursday at 7 PM on PBJ. Before we head off into the
sunset, however, we feel that we owe you, the independent thinker in an ocean of
financial lemmings, one last special treat. So here it is: a partial transcript
and sneak preview of the very first episode of "WSW..."
(Studio is decorated to resemble a psychiatrist's office--a chair, two couches, a coffee table, several plants, a rug. Enter host, Dr. Lawrence A. Czelusta.)
Larry Czelusta (smiling warmly): "Good evening America. The stock market surged last month, compiling it's second largest one-month gain ever. This surge was caused by several factors. Most important among them: earlier cost cutting measures appear to be producing positive earnings surprises, Sadaam Hussein awoke last Friday with a bad case of diphtheria, Aunt Edna's Gopher Prairie, Minnesota investment club declared 2003 "The Year of the Dow," IBM reported that theft of office supplies was down in the third quarter, and Girl Scout Troop 473 of Kansas City produced record year-on-year cookie sales growth. This is an exciting time for investors.
Here with us tonight to discuss these factors and to offer his insights into the future is Lou D. Ruksheyster."
(Secretary enters studio, followed closely by a white-haired gentleman. She shows him to a seat across from the host.)
LC: "Good evening Lou. Thank you for coming."
LR: "Thank you for having me Larry. It's good to be here."
LC: "Three years ago, during the summer of '99, you were one of the first to predict that the stock market would go up. Congratulations--it looks like your prediction has indeed materialized. What can you tell us about the secrets of your uncanny insights into the market?"
LR: "Well, it's simple really. I have a quirky, grandfatherly sort of grin, a pleasant melodic voice, and a resplendent coiffeur of white hair. How could the love child of Santa Claus and God be wrong?"
LC: "A good point. But to what do you attribute the astounding success of your top-selling investment newsletters?"
LR: "Oh, that's even simpler. I've been labeled 'the dismal science's only sex symbol' by People and named one of the world's '50 Sexiest People Over 50' by Modern Maturity. I'm adored by the masses."
LC: "There's certainly no denying your sex appeal. But how do you decide what to print in your newsletters?"
LR: "Ah, well that's really not very interesting."
LC: "Just in case some of our viewers might be interested, would you mind indulging us?"
LR: "OK, if you must know: Each month I offer lesser financial mortals space in my newsletter. They write the usual stuff--this sector looks hot, these stocks are under priced, the market is headed in such and such a direction--you know, the standard drivel. Some months later, after everyone has had sufficient time to forget, I tout the one or two of these gurus whose predictions came true, and agree with them. I then remind people that these predictions were published well before the fact in my newsletter, and that if they would have followed the advice of these gurus, they would have done extraordinarily well. Somehow people never seem to mind the fact that most of what I write provides no practical guidance and that most of my contributors perform poorly. I emphasize those things that worked and ignore entirely the myriad things that didn't. Your average person has the memory and concern for history of a pill bug."
LC (chuckling): "Yes, pill bugs all..."
LR (laughter): "or sheep, or morons, or idiots..." (More laughter.)
LC: "It's a good thing, though, for guys like us. If everyone knew the truth of the matter--that no one can predict with any degree of certainty--who would watch programs like this or subscribe to newsletters like yours?"
LR: "Our mothers, perhaps. Not to worry, however. Knowledge is not a thing that will ever take hold of the masses--it has no calories, it produces no intoxicating effects, it's difficult to digest, and it doesn't look good in a bikini."
LC: "Well spoken. We're just about out of time. I want to thank you for your reassuring words of wisdom. But before you go, can we get your predictions for the future?"
LR: "Certainly. The market will go up or down (see future newsletters to find out which). McDonald's hamburgers will continue to sell. Baywatch will be in reruns for at least three decades. And the key to making money in the financial world will always be possessing an unsubstantiated claim to expertise."
LC: "Thank you very much for coming. I wish you continued success."
LR: "You're quite welcome."