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Investing With the Man Who Saved the World's Markets

Though you don't know him, L.E. Cooper has spared every one of us financial Armageddon. Soon you'll have a chance to take stock in his company -- for free.

According to an official government document, L.E. Cooper has been running the U.S. economy since 1983.

If the name doesn't ring a bell, just remember that Cooper is the same man who, in the early 1990s, saved the brokerage firm then known as

Salomon Brothers

, the U.S. government and, by extension, the global markets. He has also altered

Federal Reserve

policy and dictated the economic policy of two presidents.

Still never heard of Cooper, who, according to a prospectus, also worked as an attorney for the government and logged time on Wall Street? "Butch" Cooper?

Then look at his Aug. 25 amended S-1 filing with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

. In it, he proposes an IPO of his company,

Web Equity Capital

. Web Equity says it plans to give away 10 billion (that's with a "b") shares in an IPO.

Cooper, 55, is founder, chairman, chief executive, president and treasurer of the company, which was incorporated in June. He also is the sole director. Web Equity plans to become a Web site for "building wealth through free stock, lowest-cost loans and expert market timing advice." The site urges visitors to click on the banner ads for



and sign up for credit cards; Web Equity gets paid $20 for each person who's approved for a NextCard. The site has had 825 visitors in the past three weeks, Cooper says.

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While his initial filing caused a minor stir, mainly because it was one of the first and largest of the so-called free stock giveaways to file a prospectus after the SEC clamped down on such promotions, the amended filing's claims may fall more in the jurisdiction of the


than of the SEC.

In the filing, Cooper claims he "convinced" the Fed to "stop its long history of stymieing the U.S. stock market via jawboning and interest rate hikes on the misguided view that increases over 5%-8% per year in the stock market were inflationary."

Cooper also details how he kept Salomon, now a unit of



Salomon Smith Barney

arm, from being indicted during its 1991 bond scandal, a feat he credits with saving the world's debt markets from Armageddon.

If this current run of the bull market is indeed marked by a people's movement of individual investors taking their financial future into their own hands, perhaps the next logical step would be the one taken by Butch Cooper -- personal, partisan federal filings. For $1 -- since his IPO will raise no proceeds -- Cooper's SEC filing has given him a legally sanctioned, federally official way to distribute his view of the world.

So, one might ask, just how did one man convince the Fed to let the markets run? Or how did he stay the hand of the government from hammering Solly? Or, based on further claims on his Web site, how was he able to dictate the economic policy of the





Reached at his home in Fairfield, Conn., Cooper says it was simple. He sent letters, or "memos" as he calls them, to different people in all branches of the government. Cooper says the leaders of the free world were listening specifically to him. The proof of his claim, Cooper explains in a deep Southern drawl, is obvious -- they followed his advice as outlined in the memos.

Pausing, he concedes: "I guess I'm making a leap of faith on that, but that's my conclusion."

Indeed, both in the prospectus and on Web Equity's Web site, Cooper credits himself with a wide range of heroics and points out that he has received neither payment nor proper recognition for these feats. (Cooper sued Salomon in September 1992 for payment for saving the firm. The case was dismissed in January 1993. Cooper appealed, but the appeal was dismissed in August 1993, according to the U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, Conn.)

A spokeswoman for Salomon Smith Barney says the firm has no comment on the past lawsuit or Cooper's claims in the Web Equity prospectus.

None of these feats -- whether of economic heroism or off-kilter imagination -- were in the initial S-1, filed on July 30. The amended filing was made on orders of the SEC, Cooper says, because he forgot to include company bylaws in his first filing. He included the bylaws -- written, voted on and approved by him alone -- in the amended filing.

As he was changing the prospectus, Cooper says he decided to include these stories of his involvement with the U.S. government, the Fed and Salomon. His past actions, secret until now, may give potential investors a chance to see who he is, he says.

"I didn't want them to think I was some doofus," Cooper says.