Sorry, my dear reader, for my winter absence. My excuse is the lack of anything interesting to write upon, at least in the world of high finance. Everyone is happy, complacent, even bored. New highs everyday. Volatility at all-time lows. The whole market is singing a version of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World." I see piles of green, gold coins too/Liquidity flowing for me and you/And I think to myself, What a wonderful world. But isn't there an alternative version of Goldilocks and The Three Bears in which she gets eaten by Pappa Bear?
Blackstone buying Sam Zell's Equity Office for $39 bil. was big news. The biggest buyout ever. I'm scratching my head over this one. Everyone talks about what a genius Zell is, and without a doubt he is. But are the Blackstone guys even smarter? Look how they've managed to sell over $21 bil. of the properties before the ink has even dried on the transaction. It appears that they bought Equity Office's properties at a price that equates to around $371/ft. Blackstone is selling off what they bought at prices that range from $354 to as high as $1,000 a foot for the NYC buildings. Morgan Stanley paid $2.5 bil for 3.9mm square feet for the San Fran properties, which comes to $641/ft. Of course, these are the best properties, the trophy buildings, but still, Blackstone has recouped already 54% of its purchase price within a few weeks of closing at prices per square foot much higher than what it paid. Couldn't Zell have done the same thing? Why did he sell wholesale when he could have sold retail? Is it as easy as Blackstone makes it look? Or are the properties that Blackstone still owns a kennel of dogs? Or are the ones buying the properties from Blackstone going to be holding the bag a year from now? After all, Blackstone paid what most thought was a stupendous price, a 34 multiple of cash flow, twice what office REITS in general are trading for. You have to respect Steve Ross and Vornado for stepping away from the table. Among all these geniuses, somebody is going to end up looking stupid when all is said is done.
Speaking of stupid, what about Britney Spears? So she shaves her head. Now she's clean both bottom and top. I have a suspicion that her apparent nervous breakdown is a publicity stunt. It's all too public. I can imagine her retinue of managers and PR flacks are in crisis mode, the crisis being that the little money maker called Britney is in a nose dive. Her record company is pulling the plug. People shouted "Whore...Whore," when she showed up at a Laker's game around Christmas. She was seeing vomitting all over herself at New Year's Eve party. The wool finally has finally fallen off the public's eyes and before them is a trailer trash, gum smacking, air head bimbo who can't sing, dance or act but who managed to amass a $250mm dollar fortune by playing up a tawdry, meretricious Lolita act. A school girl willing to show your her tits and everything else down there. The act has worn off.
And so what is the game plan now? How are her "peeps" going to salvage this meltdown? The only way they can do that is build some sympathy for their little harlot. So they'll stage a nervous breakdown. Portray Brit as a victim of the paparazzi, of public intrusion, of us. Tip the paparazzi off that Brit is going to be at a tattoo parlor. And when they show up, have her head shaved to get the big freak-out going? "Oh my god, the poor little girl is losing it! Look what we've done to her." Have the little anguished whore attack the wolf pack pap with her umbrella. And once everyone is convinced that she is certifiable, have her go underground for a few months. And then, just as we are ready to forget her, have her stage her Big Comeback, Slimmed down, hair grown back, smiling, clean, happy, ready to be our naughty little school girl again. She'll do a Vegas comeback, dressed in black leather, just like Elvis, whom she has imitated more than once.
That's my prediction. Can't you see her on the cover of People Magazine, the New and Improved Britney? Will we all buy it? I won't. No Brit, you're not so innocent any more, you little harlot. You're just another strumpet trying to yank my chain. Disappear. Go back to Galveston. Take care of your children. I shorted your stock a long time ago and went long Christina. The only good I can see from your losing your shit is that my seven year old daughter, and all the other little girls whom you held yourself up to as someone to be envied, can see what in the ends happens to skanky, promiscuous sluts.
And speaking of skanky, famous sluts, there's Anna Nicole. She's now one for the ages, as they said about Abe. Remember those obnoxious Trimspa commericals with ANS and the slogan "Be Envied." Envy what?! What better souvenir than that to signal our cultural decline into tabloid hell.
Looking into my crystal bong, (just kidding, I gave that up for ether a long time ago), I have one more prediction: Al Gore will be the Demo nominee for President. Gore/Obama ticket. Hillary will start to lose traction by the end of the summer. Even die hard Demos will wonder if they want another four years of the Billary show. More and more of the hardcore will come to the same opinion that that Demo stalwart, Geffen, has, i.e., that she's a tired act, a phony, a liar, an overwrought, contrived creation of polls, focus groups, handlers, consultants. Polls will show Guiliani beating her soundly. Panic will set in, just like it did last time around when Demos realized that Howard Dean was on his way to the nomination. Gore will be waiting in the wings, an Oscar winner, a Noble Peace prize candidate, the guy who won the popular vote, a changed man from that changeling who ran in 2000. Fresh. He will play coy up to then, but a draft Al movement will get started. They'll talk Obama into taking the second spot, ready to be the next in line for 2012 or 2016. And you know Al wants it, despite his latest protestations to the contrary. Guy's like him never give up, never stop wanting it. And I hate to admit it, but Gore/Obama would be really hard to beat.