The Breakfast Table

Concorde Socialism

Dear Fareed,

Speaking of left-wing British playwrights, the New York Daily News reported yesterday that Harold Pinter was scheduled to receive a big award this week from the League of Off-Broadway Theaters and Producers, but he had one condition. He and his wife, Lady Antonia Fraser, insisted on taking the Concorde to New York, which would have cost nearly $20,000–more than the cost of the ceremony itself. The producers balked and Mr. Pinter refused to attend. We have a new term–Concorde socialism!

About the p/e ratios, you and Mr. Glassman are crazy if you think that stocks will some day have a similar risk profile to bonds. The only thing that makes stocks seem safer than they used to be is that they keep going up, which is due to good old demand–all those baby boomers putting their money into mutual funds. There are no industry fundamentals in the high-tech sector that explain why a particular company should have a 200 p/e for the next 10 years. Sure, the sector could generate a lot of value, but that doesn’t make a single company a long-term winner. Remember competition? In the beginning of an industry, like personal computers, companies like Microsoft and Intel enjoy monopoly positions, but eventually creative competitors will whittle away at their market share. Just because Microsoft has gone up for 15 years doesn’t mean that most stocks will.

Where can I look up something on this horrible Glassman fellow who is ruining my morning?

Did you read about a new restaurant in the Sony building in New York called the Berkely Bar and Grill? In the bathroom, patrons hear to two alternating tapes–Ruth Reichl, former New York Times restaurant reviewer, and the audio version of Monica’s Story, (for all you policy wonks who miss the more amusing part of the paper, that is Monica Lewinsky’s book).