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Notable New     Yorkers
Select     Notable New Yorker

Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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Session:         Page of 1029

was looking at this darned column. They took it for granted that these were dull letters. So I began expanding a little bit. When I'd write my answers I'd get in a few touches of my own ideas of finance--drunk with power, you know. Here I was writing advice to investors at the age of 21 and working down in Wall Street. I'll tell you about the Wall Street end in a few minutes. But my downfall came when some little old lady wrote to say that she had $10,000 to invest, and she had noticed that a stock had gone down from 76 to 2, so she thought this would be a very good time to buy 5000 shares at $2 a share. Well, this gave great financier Cerf a chance to say, “Why do you think this stock went from 76 to 2? The fact that a stock has gone down to nothing or near nothing sometimes means that the company is completely kaput.” I said, “As a matter of fact, this company happens to be bankrupt, so you'd be insane to buy this stock.” When I got in the next day they were waiting for me grimly. As a matter of fact, the company in question was not bankrupt. It was busted higher than a kite, but it didn't actually go bankrupt for about a week. I almost saved it from bankruptcy! My editor said, “They're going to sue us for a million dollars.” Then the editor added, “This will teach you two lessons, sir: one, when you're given an explicit order, obey it; two, check your facts before you print a story. You're fired.”


You were fired?


Boy, was I fired! I bravely made my way to the men's

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