A Personal Glimpse Into the Private Louis Rukeyser

by Mark Skousen

A Personal Glimpse Into the Private Louis Rukeyser

by Mark Skousen, Chairman, Investment U

Thursday, May 4, 2006: Issue #532

I was deeply saddened by the passing of my favorite financial TV personality, Louis Rukeyser. Lou died on Monday after a three-year battle with multiple myeloma, a rare bone marrow cancer.

In an age of mad money and pedantic pundits, I yearn for the wry humor, the high intellect and the political soundness of the ever-charming Louis Rukeyser.

His show, Wall $treet Week, was a mainstay every Friday evening, and aired again on Saturday morning. He was superb, and he always set the highest standards of decorum with his guests. No shouting maniacs here!

Lou was a friend. I appeared on several panels with him at the Money Shows and the New Orleans Conferences. My wife, Jo Ann, and I joined him on several Caribbean cruises. Once, when we were on a secluded beach together in the U.S. Virgin Islands, a woman passed by and instantly recognized Lou.

"I watch your show every Friday!" she said. Instead of dismissing her, or being annoyed by the intrusion, he graciously responded, "keep watching," and answered her questions. He was always the gentleman.

Louis Rukeyser: An American Optimist

Rukeyser was bullish on America and the stock market. He never predicted a crash because he knew you couldn't keep America down for long. He was a consummate advocate of free markets, tax cuts and sound money, though he never could quite accept the message of the gold bugs and their pessimistic predictions.

I well recall a panel he hosted at Jim Blanchard's New Orleans Conference in 1996, an election year. The panelists included Doug Casey, Gary North and Harry Browne, all libertarians. At the time, Harry Browne was running for president. After noting that all the panelists had given money to Browne's campaign, Doug Casey turned to Lou and challenged him, "You talk the talk, Lou, but when are you going to walk the walk, and make a contribution?"

It was the only time I remember Lou to be silent. He didn't like supporting gloom and doom.

A Natural Storyteller And the "George Washington" Of High Finance

Lou loved to tell stories, and he had the uncanny ability to remember who had already heard them. I never heard the same story twice.

Several years ago, I was on a panel with Lou at the Florida Money Show, and he told us about the time Elaine Garzarelli, a former partner and managing director at Lehman Brothers, was a guest on Wall $treet Week. For some reason, she had been late, so Lou had to ad lib. "Every time Elaine is on my show, she always says the same thing: 'Lou, my indicators have never been more bullish.' Watch and see."

When Elaine finally showed up, Lou asked her where the market was headed. She replied, "Lou, my indicators have never been more bullish."

She had no idea why everyone in the audience laughed.

After he told this story, he invited me and the other guest panelists to join him on the stage, where he asked each one of us a variety of questions. When he came to me, he asked, "Mark, so where do you think the market is headed?"

I responded without hesitation, "Lou, my indicators have never been more bullish."

The audience in Florida burst with laughter. But Lou didn't seem to think it was funny. He hated being upstaged. Later, he whispered in my ear, "Well, you must admit our panel was a lot better than the one with Doug Casey and those gold bugs!"

I've always thought Lou was the spitting image of George Washington, with his wavy white hair and majestic demeanor. Once, I suggested to him that we do an act together, he as George Washington and me as Ben Franklin. But he turned me down. It wasn't his style. Still, in my mind, Louis Rukeyser is the George Washington of high finance. He will be missed.

Good investing, AEIOU,

Mark

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