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When Mighty Fall, Haters Cheer

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To many, company missteps equal comedy gold.

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The jovial Germans have a word for it: Schadenfreude, or taking pleasure in the misfortune of others.

Not that Wall Street showed an ounce of that nearly unpronounceable word when former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer's taste for escorts hit the tabloids.

No, the demise of Spitzer's holier-than thou, meat-ax, lawsuit-happy approach to Wall Street (tinged with aggressive ignorance about how markets work) had nothing to do with the high-fives on trading floors when the good guv resigned last March, citing "personal failings." The key: The girl was from New Jersey! To a bunch of snot-nosed Ivy League New York City traders, that's worse than devoting your entire portfolio to penny stocks.

However, a sidelight turns into a twofer: Alan Schwartz, CEO at Bear Stearns, appeared on CNBC to assure investors the brokerage house was in good shape, but his words were immediately swept away by the clatter and chatter surrounding Spitzer's resignation. That's probably a good thing, because less than 48 hours later, it was clear that Bear Stearns had been mauled by the credit crunch. File this under: windbaggery deflated; saved by Jersey girl; yee-haw.

But there's more. Here are a few colossal flubs that brought a smile to mugs everywhere:

  • Many admire The Donald's hair (and more than a few men envy his steady investment in trophy wives). So it wasn't a surprise when chortles erupted back in 2004 after Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts piled up $1.8 billion in debt and declared bankruptcy.

    This major league belly-flop came from a guy who has published a slew of books pontificating about how to make money. The tomes had typically understated titles, including Think BIG and Kick Ass in Business and Life; Trump Never Give Up: How I turned My Biggest Challenges into Success; and, Trump: Think Like a Billionaire – Everything You Need To Know About Success, Real Estate, and Life. That profound and insightful "and life" probably sent a few gurus over the edge.

    However, The Donald reorganized and the company is now known as Trump Entertainment Resorts (TRMP) - so he may have the last laugh, aside from his hair.

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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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