NEW YORK (
) -- We made it,
fans! It's 2013, and we're still kicking. Hopefully you enjoyed your New Year's celebration and have by now shaken off the vicious hangover from all the unhealthy things you absorbed over the holiday season.
Yes, we, too, didn't think our bodies could stand a second more of
unrelenting, merciless fiscal-cliff coverage, but in the end -- unlike those unfortunate Mayans -- we survived.
Speaking of the Mayans, all their wacky end-of-the-world predictions really got us thinking that we should get into that business too. Not the extinction part, of course. We're talking about the prognostication part. Heck, if Wall Street's analyst community can make wildly inaccurate forecasts every January and still keep their jobs, then why can't we?
And those folks make a ton more dough than us overeducated, underpaid ink-stained wretches!
So, without any further ado, please find
The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street: Predictions 2013
. They may not all come to pass, but, boy, would it be a hoot if they did!
5. Dick's Triumphant Return
We can see it now: A mammoth neon sign hanging high above the corner of Wall and Broad Streets, warmly welcoming hungry tourists from both the Near and Far East. The aroma of roasted garlic and tomato paste seductively wafting through New York's historic financial district, alluring bulls and bears alike to step inside and sample the delectable Southern Italian fare simmering inside.
Look for it folks, because it's opening downtown in 2013: Grasso's Restaurant and Day Trade.
That's right. We're betting that Dick Grasso, the former chief of the
New York Stock Exchange
King of the Club
will return to his throne in the coming year. And if we're correct, he's going to be badder and balder than ever.
Here's why: In case you missed it, New York City enjoyed a bull market in Italian restaurants in 2012. Bill Clinton fave Il Mulino opened a branch uptown and the
Guy Fieri rolled into Gotham with a massive, although much maligned, outpost in Times Square. Meanwhile, legendary Le Cirque founder Sirio Maccioni opened Sirio at the famed Pierre Hotel in midtown while Rao's continued to turn away customers not named Gasparino way up in Harlem.
Yes, there can be no doubt that last year was an
for vowel-ended eateries in Manhattan. Everywhere but downtown, that is. And you can be sure that if we noticed this trend, Dick Grasso did as well.
Where has Dick been since he left the NYSE in 2003? We're not sure. Perhaps in his hideaway somewhere, biding his time and counting the $140 million he took when he left the exchange almost a decade ago.
Who knows, maybe he's been hanging out with his old pal Ken Langone, skipping stones and putting the
on their mutual nemesis Eliot Spitzer. Truth be told, we honestly can't say.
But we can say that something needs to happen at his old stomping ground, and it needs to happen fast. We know that the
assured N.Y. Sen. Chuck Schumer that the NYSE's trading floor will stay open in the wake of their $8.2 billion purchase of the once-venerable exchange. However, even Chuck knows that floor brokers and specialists are becoming dinosaurs, and electronic trading has turned the once-bustling floor into a ghost town.
Seriously, there must be something more profitable to occupy that cavernous piece of real estate than letting Maria Bartiromo use it as a backdrop for her daily
And that's where Dick comes in.
Clearly, he has the cash to make Grasso's Restaurant and Day Trade happen. He also has an army of loyal employees ready to serve both him and a flood of ravenous diners at a moment's notice. Heck, all those floor brokers are already wearing funny colored jackets and are used to running around the trading floor five days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. -- why not let them read the specials and deliver the steak pizzaiola as well?
And if a diner wants to place a limit order with his tiramisu -- even better. They can leave the Two Dollar Broker a $2 tip for their troubles. It's a win-win situation.
Oh, and add one more win because Grasso is a dead ringer for Stanley Tucci's restaurant-owner character in the movie
Don't worry if you missed that film. When Grasso's opens for business this year, the world will be able to experience the real thing.
4. Jack's Bucket List
Jack Bogle founded
in 1974 and was the driving force that turned the mutual fund company into the giant it is today. He's written 10 books, at last count, on the merits of index funds and long-term investing. He's been named by
magazine as one of the financial industry's "Giants of the 20th Century" and he was awarded the Woodrow Wilson Award by his alma mater, Princeton University, for his distinguished service to the nation.
Career-wise, Jack has done almost everything short of run for president, and if it was up to us, we would lead the charge to get him that job too. We can think of no man or woman more qualified or dignified for that job than John "Jack" C. Bogle. No lying.
Unfortunately, Bogle has long refused to run for public office and clean up Washington, preferring to carry on with his crusade to clean up Wall Street instead. Moreover, even if he did decide to run for the country's top job, the rigors of a campaign would probably be a bit too much for the octogenarian at this point. Not that he wouldn't give 'em hell.
Nevertheless, just because Jack has checked off more things on his bucket list than most mortals will only dream about does not mean he's done just yet. If you think that's the case, then you just don't know Bogle.
We happen to think we know Jack's next move, and we have an inkling he's going to make it soon.
So what's left for the man who has done nearly everything on Wall Street to do?
Simple. Bogle's going to open up a high-speed-trading hedge fund. You read it here first. Jack's making a comeback and it's going to be high-freaking frequency.
Look: He's done the boring buy-and-hold thing. He knows there's no thrill in that. He also knows better than anybody that active mutual fund managers rarely beat the market, which is why the majority of them run closet-index funds. Finally, as pertaining to exchange traded funds, Bogle's aversion to ETFs -- including Vanguard's own brand -- has been well-documented.
That leaves Jack with a single option as far as we see it, and he won't need a lot of capital to do it. All he needs is a supercomputer and a little bit of his own scratch to definitively prove whether his life's work has been for naught. Then, and only then, can he ultimately answer the one question that has dogged him his entire life:
Can Jack Bogle beat the market?
Just wait, folks. In 2013, he'll finally find out.
3. Stevie's New View
Stand back and listen up, folks: Steve Cohen, the famously secretive founder of
, is breaking his silence this year. Not only that, he's going to do it on
with Barbara, Whoopi, Joy, Elisabeth and Sherri.
Consider the facts and you'll soon see why it's unavoidable that Cohen is headed straight for a couch on
to unburden himself.
First, everybody wants him to talk, starting with Southern District U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Slowly, but surely, Preet's been tightening the noose around Cohen in a desperate attempt to bust the hedgie for insider trading. He's been staking out Cohen's Greenwich headquarters like it was the Bergin Hunt and Fish Club in Queens during John Gotti's heyday. And when he hasn't been surveiling Cohen in Connecticut, he's been busy squeezing all of his traders to talk like so many high-end Henry Hills.
No kidding. Cohen may have been implicated as "Portfolio Manager A" last November when Matthew Martoma became the latest in a string of SAC employees to be indicted by the government. But you can bet your bottom dollar that Preet would trade a dozen Martomas for a chance to put Cohen's name in that placeholder.
Trust us. Barbara Walters knows ratings. And she knows that if she gets Preet's man before Preet, it's going to be a huge draw.
-breaking appearance won't merely attract the millions of armchair investors who want to know if Cohen's investing success is the real deal or insider-trading trickery. He's more than a one-trick hedgie. Cohen can talk art, sports and relationships too.
He's purchased Picassos and Warhols up the wazoo. Snapped up a schnitzel of baseball's New York Mets. And he's even made frequent appearances on the
New York Post's
Page Six as a result of his divorce from his first wife, Patricia (perhaps the only person who wants him in front of a judge more than Preet).
Talk about the perfect guest host! He has enough interests to chit chat with every woman on that set, let alone a one-on-one cry-fest with Barbara.
For his part, it makes perfect sense for Stevie to spill his beans on daytime TV. And not because he is a doppelganger for former
show producer Jeff Zucker.
In a single appearance, Cohen can finally put to rest all those nasty rumors and proclaim that he's not the market's Al Capone to Preet's Eliot Ness. Once and for all, he can tell a studio audience, if not the world, that billionaire day traders are people too.
And if he shows real emotion and breaks down while making his appeal, well, so what? At least he told his side of the story.
It may even get him a reality show on the
2. Apple's Next Act
It's no secret that
needs to do something drastic in the coming year after exiting 2012 on such a low note. Believe it or not, we have a pretty good notion as to what it's going to be.
No, not Apple TV. It's something much, much cooler than that, and far, far more stylish.
Check this out: Shares of the technology giant tumbled close to 14% in the final six months of 2012. The stock's severe downdraft has many investors wondering if the company is cooking up anything fresh to follow the iPad and whether CEO Tim Cook is the right chef to run the kitchen that Steve Jobs built.
As bond god Jeff Gundlach succinctly summed up in November: "I'm really struck by this mini iPad thing as if that's any kind of a product innovation. Once you just start changing the size of your products, I really think you're not exactly innovating."
In other words, it's Hail Mary time for Tim. And we think we know in which direction he plans to throw the ball.
He's going to buy
and launch a line of stores mixing technology and fashion. We even know what he's going to call the chain.
Easy does it. Relax. We know you are thinking that this time we really fell off our rockers. Nevertheless, when you consider the facts, the only legitimate conclusion for Apple is Gapple.
To start, take a look at The Gap.
As bad as Apple performed in the final half of 2012, that's how well The Gap fared. The once-moribund retailer thumped Apple, returning over 10% from July through December. Same-store sales consistently topped Wall Street estimates last year, causing analysts to change their view on the stock. Since last August, The Gap went from Wall Street dog to darling, receiving multiple upgrades from investment houses and not a single downgrade.
But just because the retailer, now valued at around $15 billion, is on a roll is not the reason why Apple will part with some of its cash hoard to create Gapple. It's more than that and it's certainly more than the fact that both companies know the importance of selling consumers fashionable and functional products.
It's about square footage, something The Gap has in spades and Apple maximizes better than anybody.
The Gap has about 3,000 company-operated stores and 300 franchised stores in 90 countries worldwide. Apple, meanwhile, had 250 stores in the United States and 140 stores internationally as of September. And if Apple is tapped out of new ideas and is resorting to cannibalizing its own products by hawking smaller versions of old ones, then it better sell a boatload of them.
The only way it is going to do that is through an aggressive bricks-and-clicks retail approach like Gapple. Think about it. In one simple swoop, Apple gets (1) a ton of new stores in ideal locations and (2) entrance into the fashion industry which, according to numerous Wall Street analysts, is more than ever jibing with technology.
"We believe that longer term (over the next 10-plus years), wearable computers could eventually replace the iPhone and smartphones in general," Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster wrote in his Wednesday note on Apple.
Oh, and don't forget about Topeka Capital analyst Brian White's note this week where he gushed about the "wide array of vibrant colors" Apple will soon be offering for its entire iPod, iPad and iPhone lineups.
Strap on a pair of pink iPads, Gisele. It's runway time.
Perhaps most importantly, a chain of Gapple stores selling hot styles and even hotter gadgets also provides Tim Cook a chance to step out of Steve Jobs' shadow and prove to the world that he is, indeed, his own man.
Unless, of course, Gapple plans to sell black turtlenecks in homage to Steve. If that's the case, then he may want to keep Steve in the picture. At least for the advertising campaign.
1. Hail to the Fab
You must admit that it's been awfully quiet on the
front since July 2010, when it ponied up $550 million in fines for its mortgage-bond sales practices. Perhaps paying the largest levy in Wall Street history caused the firm to step back and do some soundless soul-searching.
And, yes, they do have souls. They may be devious, rip-your-face-off investment bankers who have no problem selling toxic collateralized debt obligations to widows, Muppets and Belgians, but they are human beings, you know.
Anyway, that reflective period is scheduled to come to a crashing end this coming July when Goldman's star salesman, Fabrice Tourre, goes to trial for his role in the scam. Judging by Fab's e-mails -- like the one where he described himself as "the only potential survivor" of a collapsing CDO market -- we don't think the self-described "Fabulous Fab" will go quietly.
At the same time, we also don't think Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein wants to relive the bad old days and see his white-shoe firm dragged through the mud again. Our view is that Lloyd is enjoying the heightened tranquility and relative anonymity now engulfing his firm, not to mention the 46% gain in the company's stock over the past year. Furthermore, we predict that Lloyd will do what it takes to keep things that way.
Quite the conundrum, isn't it? Fab plans to scream to the rafters to save his skin. And Lloyd wants to keep the volume way down low to save his stock.
Fear not. We see a solution and we know that both Fab and Lloyd see it too. And it's good not just for Goldman Sachs, it's good for America too.
How can it not be good for the country if Fabrice Tourre succeeds Tim Geithner to become the nation's 76th secretary of the Treasury?
Doubt all you want, but hand to God, this is going to happen.
To start, Goldman Sachs cranks out Treasury secretaries like Hostess used to make Twinkies. Bob Rubin and Hank Paulson both toiled at 85 Broad Street before moving to the Treasury Building on Pennsylvania Avenue.
How revolving is the door between Goldman Sachs and Treasury? Congressmen were left dumbstruck when soon-to-be retiring Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner revealed to them that he never worked at Goldman Sachs.
So you can check that box, but that's not the only one. Tourre has more than Goldman Sachs on his resume. It turns out that he's a pretty brainy guy, complete with degrees from top French academies including Lycée Henri IV, Lycée Louis le Grand (Sartre attended both of those prep schools) as well as the École Centrale where he received a bachelor's degree in mathematics. And if French schools fail to impress, he's also got a master's degree from Stanford.
Put it all together and Fab's probably better qualified for the job than John Snow was. Seriously, all Snow did was work on the railroad all the live long day. And Fab's certainly got more business experience than Obama's supposed nominee to replace Geithner, Jack Lew. That pencil-pusher has probably never seen a CDO, let alone sold one. Come on!
Anyway, even if Lew does get the job in January when Geithner takes off, both Blankfein and Obama know he's only a placeholder for Tourre. The deal has already been struck and here's how it's going down.
Obama -- a second-termer, mind you -- knows he needs cash for a presidential library back in Chicago and those things cost a lot of dough (just ask Bill Clinton). Furthermore, Obama knows he won't be able to go back to his usual cast of Wall Street backers to foot the bill since they will still be smarting from his recent tax hikes.
Enter Blankfein. He's been smiling broadly of late because he knows the president will soon be facing a cash crunch. And he also knows that he will gladly fund the president's legacy plans if the commander in chief would do him a solid and pull the plug on Tourre's trial.
As for the Fabulous one himself, he completes this circle of favors because we know he wants to be anywhere other than in front of the SEC's attack dogs. In fact, we know firsthand he wants out of the Wall Street rat race.
"People ask me about career advice. I feel like I'm losing my mind and I'm only 28! OK, I've decided two more years of work and I'm retiring,'" wrote Fab, now 33, in one of his infamous e-mails.
You wanted a life of leisure and pleasure, well, you got it, Fab. You're going to Washington DC to serve at the pleasure of the president of the United States care of your old boss Lloyd Blankfein.
Conspiracy theory? We think not. You can count on it.
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.