Deconstructing Dirty Harry

The Dow, the S&P and the Nasdaq set new records. As Detective Callahan might say, a market's got to know its limitations.
Publish date:

SAN FRANCISCO -- Keeping with the

Clint Eastwood

theme from

yesterday (more on that later), the stock market Wednesday featured: The Good -- with the


, the


and the


all closing to new highs -- The Bad -- most stocks failed to keep pace as the bond market dipped again -- and The Ugly --

Waste Management


slid 36.6% and

New Era of Networks

(NEON) - Get Report

tumbled 55.9% following earnings disappointments.

Dirty Laundry at WMI?

Amid the blowup at Waste Management comes revelations of heavy insider selling at the trash collector. (Thanks to a former editor at

MS Investor

who supplied the tip-off, for which he credits Craig Columbus, vice president of research at



Between May 10 and May 26, insiders sold nearly 825,000 shares of Waste Management stock at an average price around $55 a share, according to


(a division of Primark). This, after little selling since August 1998.

True, Waste Management shares hit a 52-week high of 60 on May 4, so maybe the trash execs were just being smart. But as our editor friend says: "This is the kind of selling -- right in the middle of a quarter in which business is deteriorating -- that gets companies in big trouble with shareholders." (Not to mention the



Stay tuned.

Garzarelli, Part Deux

I got tons of email from yesterday's first edition of The TaskMaster (thanks to all), much of it focused on news that Elaine Garzarelli is joining



Dan Peirce, head of emerging markets research at

BancBoston Robertson Stephens

, was one of many who questioned Garzarelli's guru status. Peirce wasn't generally critical of Garzarelli's work, but questioned the legend that has grown around her calling the stock crash of 1987.

"Everybody says Elaine called the crash, but I know at least one money manager who met with her and did not see her as bearish enough," Peirce writes. "I know she bought puts for her fund, made good money, ran afoul of the short-short rule and then had mediocre performance for many years -- even though her analysis seemed reasonably thorough -- but does anyone actually have chapter and verse on this legendary call of the 1987 crash?" I'd like to know, too.

Peirce recalls "little-known newsletter writer" Frank Curzio of

FXC Investor

was one of the few who actually called the crash in print. "Also, if memory serves, Marty Zweig gave a brief but virtuoso performance on the Oct. 16

Wall Street Week

, shaking his head in woe over what he saw coming the following Monday," he writes.

And they say people have forgotten the crash?

Another reader pointed out that Seth Tobias, managing partner with

Circle T Partners

, also started writing today for JagNotes. I didn't see the Tobias news and still haven't noted any formal word (you'd think JagNotes would publicize this stuff better).

Meanwhile, if JagNotes decides sex is indeed the


way to make money on the Internet, it could offer readers a very disturbing

menage a trois

featuring Elaine, Seth and

Dan Dorfman


The Perils of Irony

Beyond the Garzarelli stuff, most of the feedback focused on a miscue:

The Gauntlet




Dirty Harry

movie, nor was it set in San Francisco. My bad, and thanks (as always) for keeping my tootsies in the fire; we live for that at


Nonetheless, I'm sticking with the idea of me being Dirty Harry to


Andy Serwer's


. And as cool as Kojak is, how do you think his lollipops would fare vs. Callahan's .44 magnum? Which, you'll recall, was "the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off. You've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky?"