Fortune Magazine
Captain's Blog

Captain's Blog, stardate: 9/14/07

Is the Market Shock of '07 finally coming to an end? Fortune's Andy Serwer weighs in on that and more.

By Andy Serwer, Fortune managing editor

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- MARKETS: So is a semblance of normalcy returning? Maybe. But really Market Shock 2007 will be with us for a while. Smoldering on. Worse in some businesses like credit derivatives, subprime mortgages. I forget who it was...maybe my former boss and wise man Norm Pearlstine (great to see you the other day Norm!)....who said this whole deal is going to be somewhat like the S&L crisis of the 1980s in terms of size and scope. In other words, bad for a lot of folks, not a killer though. The one difference is that I wouldn't look for any sort of bailout - though Bill Gross of PIMCO (for more on that institution, see below) thinks the government should bail out homeowners. To that I say....maybe. Certainly the Feds should not ride in to save the hedge funds, or even Countrywide (Charts, Fortune 500) (a question which our old friend Deep Blue was pondering the other day.).....So it's quiet today in NYC on Friday, the second day of Rosh Hashanah.....The big action of course will be on Tuesday when we find out if the Fed cuts rates. A very informed source recently suggested to me it was in the cards....just a short-term boost kind of thing. But I definitely could see Bernanke not cutting, saying we need to take our medicine. Overall I would lean toward predicting yes.....

"THE WORST JOB IN AMERICA": That's how a distinguished, Harvard alum hedge fund manager described the job of managing the Harvard endowment. Pretty amazing, right? So maybe it shouldn't have stunned anyone that Mohamed El-Erian left that job earlier this week to return to PIMCO. And yet, according to my source (we'll call him Deep Crimson) El-Erian's departure DID come as a complete surprise to the Harvard board. (Cluelessness is part of the problem?) And remember El-Erian was in line for the top job at PIMCO before but he took the Harvard job so he must have really had his reasons for leaving. Why did he leave? El-Arian isn't saying, but here is some informed opinion: "The alumni and faculty are very conservative, folks there are still mad about [El Arian's predecessor] Jack Meyer (either that he made so much money or that he quit), and no doubt Mohamed ruffled feathers by being on CNBC, etc," says Deep Crimson. "The question is now who do they get?" This source says that Steve Galbraith of the big NYC hedge fund Maverick who was in the running before is a possibility. "So is some guy from Bain," says this source. And here's some more analysis from Byron Wein, formerly of Morgan Stanley, now chief investment strategist at Pequot Capital (run by Art Samberg, hey Art!!!) BTW, Byron is 'on various Harvard committees' is how he puts it. "I think he left for a better job! His family did like it more in CA than Boston. And the Harvard job wasn't as much fun. That's just my supposition. You would want to work at Harvard - which you do at a discount - because it's a noble cause. But it's harder than he thought, especially in the equity area. Sowood [referring to Harvard losses in that hedge fund this summer] made some people unhappy. So if you are at a job where you are already rich and people say or do things two or three times that make you leave. Who needs it? Again, that's just my take."

PEOPLE WHO WEAR (or wore) BLACK: Johnny Cash, Gary Player ("makes me feel stronger"), Steve Jobs, me (sometimes), Jerry Glanville, Jack Nicholson (sort of), The Cure, Safra Catz, and everyone else who works at Oracle (know what I mean? Tee hee!!) ....From infoplease: "Black is the color of authority and power. It is popular in fashion because it makes people appear thinner. It is also stylish and timeless. Black also implies submission. Priests wear black to signify submission to God. Some fashion experts say a woman wearing black implies submission to men. [really?] Black outfits can also be overpowering, or make the wearer seem aloof or evil. Villains, such as Dracula, often wear black."

LOOSE CHANGE: Cool magazine stories to do: What about something to do with Hank Greenberg's revenge on AIG? Or how about a piece asking CEOs and such where they think the economy is going right now. Or a really deep dive Banana Republic piece???.......Hey who can correctly ID all the Wayans, the Nevilles, and the Marsalis family members?......Football: Big one this week is Nebraska and USC. I'm calling the upset: Huskers!....but I'll be watching Alabama versus Ark and Florida v. TENN in my good ol' SEC!!!! (not watching WestVA TROUNCE MD!) .....As for last week: Not sure I'm in love with South Florida yet.......Best game last week was Gamecocks vs. Bulldawgs! I LUV to hate Steve Superior!!!.....Tried to get a burger the other night from Ruth's Chris and they told me they only serve them at lunch. Oh I get it! That's to make me order something more expensive!! Click! No wonder the stock (RUTH) has gone from $23 to $16 over the past 18 months..... Top of page