A season of giving

By DAVID MOON, Moon Capital Management
December 12, 2004

A season of giving

Christmas is a time for giving. A time to look inward and find the spirit of light, birth and hope in ourselves that inspires us to serve and give to others. Or, if you prefer to think about it in more secular terms, you only have 12 shopping days remaining to drive yourself further into debt and increase your stress level to the point you'll need pounds of fruitcake or bottles of wine to temporarily survive. What a spirit-filled season!

If you need a little more to do in this last almost fortnight, here are some people you might add to your shopping list. To ease your burden, I am also suggesting an appropriate gift for each of them.

For Donald Trump: The Donald could use a copy of Donald Trump's "The Art of the Deal." Perhaps it might help his various business ventures avoid bankruptcy.

Someone should give the folks at Mozilla.com a copy of "Marketing for Dummies." Their Firefox Internet browser is far superior to Microsoft's Explorer, but only a handful of people use Mozilla's Firefox. (I highly recommend it.) If you decide to buy a copy of this book, get a second copy and give one to NBA commissioner David Stern. As long as NBA players are trying to beat the snot out of NBA customers, it is going to be hard for Stern to attract new customers.

While you're visiting Books-a-Million, pick up a copy of "Accounting Principles" for the CPAs at Ernst. You might also look for a book addressing fiduciary responsibility.

If you want to help all American taxpayers, arrange to have a few more sports scandals. If congress spends all of its time investigating steroids and the NCAA, maybe they'll leave the economy alone.

If you have access to a secret fountain of youth, send Alan Greenspan there for vacation. I'm not sure he's that effective as Fed Chairman any longer, but the markets would not react well to his ill health.

If you have any pull at General Electric's CNBC subsidiary, you ought to try and get Mark Haines his own show. He is the best unscripted business newsman on television. For my money, he can have Kudlow and Cramer's spot.

The New York Stock Exchange apparently needs a computer; it still uses the same basic antiquated trading system created under a buttonwood tree in 1792. The floor trader is unneeded and adds an additional layer of cost and mystery to the stock trading process. A computer would be better.

The folks at insurance giant Marsh, accused of arranging phony bids to deceive their insurance brokerage customers, need a few sessions with a preacher, priest, rabbi or iman. Or maybe a district attorney could help them get religion. Consider a tithe on their behalf.

The managers of many of the high-flying Internet-type funds of the 1990s that crashed and burned are now trying to pass themselves off as "value" funds. Someone should buy them a copy of (and make them read) Ben Graham's "Security Analysis." They could also use a dictionary, tabbed and highlighted at the word "consistent."

David Moon is president of Moon Capital Management, a Knoxville-based investment management firm. This article originally appeared in the News Sentinel (Knoxville, TN).

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