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3 O'Clock High: Also Betting on a Fall


"I never liked Macke either, Sasha. Are you busy for dinner?"

It's long past time for me to come clean, dear Minyans.

Now, before I blow the lid off a little something called "Global Media" and expose my part in this horrid, ongoing conspiracy, let me first say this: What I am about to write will come as no surprise to my enemies. No, those people have been looking forward to my downfall since the moment my smug mug appeared on their TVs. Those jackals may have their moment to savor the flavor of rotting Jeffmacke, they may dance to the music of my girlish shrieks as they tear me asunder but they shall never have my contrition.

It is to the others, the Minyans who have loyally stood behind me even as I self-destructed, to whom I offer my apologies for any shock or regret my confessions might cause. All I can say in my defense is simply that I had no idea what I was doing. I believed my influence was limited, at best, to shaping the thoughts and ideals of every man, woman and child in the world.

Not until I heard about last night's 60 Minutes story, 5-odd minutes of wallop-packing clips called "Betting on a Fall", did I understand the might of my controversial (read: not uniformly positive) views could actually change the course of human history.

Having grasped the enormity of my power, I knew what I had done, and the disgusting act which needed to be confessed here: I had caused Sasha Cohen to fail at both the Olympics and last weekend's figure skating World Championships.

"I am Kaiser Souza"

My horror is still fresh, my Agent Kujon moment happened only hours ago. Not being in the target 60 Minutes demographic (read: 70 or older), I avoided the actual broadcast last night. I went to bed a child only to become a crook in a series of shocking philosophical realities catalyzed by my reading the "Betting on a Fall" transcript.

In order to explain, I'll run through the gist of both Lesley Stahl's segment and the lawsuit being brought by Canadian Pharmaceutical company Biovail (BVF) and its CEO Eugene Melnyk ("Successful and wealthy") against Steven Cohen and his hedge fund, SAC.

For those readers who might be unfamiliar with Mr. Cohen or hedge funds in general, let's break it down the way 60 Minutes laid it for the folks at home:

Hedge funds are "exclusive investment pools for the ultra rich. Virtually unregulated, they operate in secrecy.

"Normally, when most people buy a stock, they hope the price will go up: but one of the strategies hedge funds use called 'selling short', in which they bet lots of money that a company's stock price will fall.

"If you have money in a retirement account or a pension fund, pay attention... hedge funds have become a major force in the market... one of the largest companies in Canada is claiming that the hedge fund SAC was trying to make a killing by killing the company"

The owner of SAC, Steven Cohen, "lives all but secluded on a sprawling Greenwich, Connecticut estate. His salary last year was reportedly $500 million."

Howard Hughes: Another rich guy who lived in seclusion

Your takeaways are these: One of the largest (read: respectable) companies in all of Canada is in a dispute with someone resembling a Vegas Era Howard Hughes: absurdly powerful, wealthy and isolated. Oh yeah, this Howard Hughes is in the business of 'killing' things. Pensioners, retirees and other normal folks engaged in natural, American-type activities like buying and holding stocks.

Biovail contends that SAC took a large short position in BVF's stock then sponsored (in effect, wrote) and published predictions and opinions which supported SACs negative view of Biovail. The purpose of these reports was to convince Biovail shareholders to dump the stock, thus driving the price of BVF lower for the benefit of no-doubt creepy (aren't they all? And did you see the guy's salary?) isolationist Steven Cohen, his abnormal, murderous organization and its ultra-rich clients.

Though 60 Minutes did mention that BVF's stock didn't actually fall until well after the report was issued, and in fact not until after Biovail issued their own troubling reports, that's hardly a defense of the nefarious operators at SAC. Indeed, in the unjaundiced opinions of two guys who had been fired by the company who ghost-wrote the negative BVF report for SAC, the hedge fund actually liked the fact that BVF didn't plunge immediately. The delay allowed SAC to lure even more waif-like pensioners into their cunning bearish conspiracy before the BVF trap was sprung!

The cruel irony of this scheme, and the genius of the manner in which SAC and other hedge funds perform these elaborate scams is this: Biovail's stock was never undervalued in the first place! Don't take my word for it, just read transcript of the clip where BVF CEO Mr. Melnyk himself you says "There is virtually no analyst out there that thought the stock was overvalued."

So... that pretty much proves it. Being right or wrong isn't the issue. Offering a controversial and demonstrably contrarian view which later proves to be entirely founded isn't the issue and certainly isn't a service to informed investors ["I don't think there was any service provided here- I can tell you that"- Mr. Merlnyk]. The issue is that those views were negative. Innocent Canadians and retirees, even American retirees, get killed by the publishing of negative views. Divergent opinions aren't a service to anyone unless they are favorable. When they are harsh, they become self-fulfilling weapons, a financial destruction pointed straight at your grandmother's face.

"My bad, Sasha. It's on me."

A cynic might be thinking that 60 Minutes would take the side of Canada against a guy who victimizes uninformed retirees who own stocks (see: "60 Minutes target audience"). Such a cynic would simply be shirking their personal accountability in the failures of others.

To my shame, I can't begin to document all of the negative views regarding the first-place chances of Sasha Cohen (no relation to Steven... she is neither "evil" nor "secluded"; she is a would-be ice princess forever consigned to life as the Buffalo Bills by my actions) in the Olympic games last month and the figure skating World Championships last weekend. I am unable to make my apology comprehensive or worthy. Much like Henry Hill, I can only confess to the crimes I actually remember.

  • Before Ms. Cohen took the ice for her long program in Turin, I noted to my mom that Sasha "couldn't look more terrified if she were delivering room service to Kobe Bryant". As well as containing an embarrassing revelation about my Liberace life-style, this comment was unfair to both Sasha and Mr. Bryant. Clearly Mr. Bryant stepped aside and allowed the diminutive Ice Queen to bear the full brunt of my assault, resulting in her subsequent abject international failure.

  • When the NBC color analyst claimed at the conclusion of the long program that, in contrast to other skaters who simply skated the part of Shakespeare's Juliet, "Sasha Cohen IS Juliet" (emphasis added), I should have remained silent. It was both impolite and, in light of Sasha's Macke-Caused collapse last weekend, legally punishable for me to suggest to Mom that "she's most like Juliet in the sense that both waifs have killed themselves by the end of the program."

Sasha Cohen: Collapsing under the weight of Jeffmacke's opinion

I'm sure I said a slew of similarly mean spirited things. The point is this: others may hide from their obligations but not me. I owe Sasha Cohen more than an apology. I owe her a global reputation as a World Champion athlete known for her ability to perform in the clutch. I owe her the careers of Peggy Flemming and Dorothy Hamill.

The team of lawyers I will now be forced to hire will object to my saying this but, in terms of money, I probably owe Sasha the approximate value of the lifetime earnings for Flemming, Hamill, Katerina Witt and Michael Jordan combined. Call me crazy for signing up for a life-time of garnished wages; I simply wish there was some way I could do more.

I have caused suffering not just to Sasha but to hundreds of thousands of American boys and girls. Because of me these tots will never know the joy of having an ice queen to call their own. Their parents, in turn, will never feel the pride of waking up before dawn to drive their hyper-competitive and obsessed child to a pre-school practice session with an Eastern European Creator of Skating royalty.

My crimes may not be as great, or lucrative, as the killing of Canadian companies and retirees but I want to come clean now, here, before this story was splashed on the front pages of the WSJ or, heaven help me, 60 Minutes.

I only hope that my example will convince just one secretive, well-heeled would-be super criminal from acting as I did. Controlling the world through our stated opinions may be a heady delight but only at the expense of the hope, dreams and wealth of the unwitting.

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