REGULATORS Some Inquiries About Tripping
As chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, Edwin Gray once chartered a plane to see his dying father when no commercial flights were available. Cost: nearly $14,000. His wife Monique spent close to $12,000 on air travel, hotel rooms and meals while accompanying Gray on business trips. The problem: these bills were paid with industry funds provided by the twelve regional banks of the FHLB system. Last week Gray said he had personally repaid the full $26,000 tab.
Questions have also arisen about the fact that bank-board employees received travel expenses from the regional banks as well as from the private U.S. League of Savings Institutions. The Office of Government Ethics last week called for an investigation of the U.S. League payments to see if bank-board officials had committed any crimes.
STOCKS Celts Score on The Big Board
Superstar Larry Bird thought the stock was overpriced. Forward Kevin McHale feared that the shares were too susceptible to injury. But when the Boston Celtics went public last week—the first time that a major league sports team has had its own listing on the New York Stock Exchange—the action on the floor was intense. All 2.6 million shares, representing a 40% stake in the franchise, sold out the first day, raising $48 million.
The Celts seem to know their business. They have won 16 of 40 N.B.A. championships, including the 1985-86 title, and filled every seat in the Boston Garden for 279 consecutive games. Nonetheless, many Wall Street pros are betting against BOS, as the team is listed on the ticker. Share prices opened at 18½, slightly below the expected range of 19 to 21, and dribbled lower. By week's end, the score on the Big Board had dropped to 18¼. One reason: fears that since Boston is on top, the team and its stock have nowhere to go but down.
HOTELS A Suite Deal For $20,000
The penthouse suite in San Francisco's posh Fairmont Hotel & Tower has served oil sheiks, Hollywood stars and every U.S. President since Eisenhower. Now it has a new distinction: renting for $20,000 a night during the Christmas season, the suite has become the world's most expensive hotel accommodation.
The eight-room suite—which boasts a private elevator, a main salon (where the U.N. charter was drafted in 1945), four fireplaces, three bedrooms with gold-fixtured baths and a dome-topped library with secret passage—can be reserved on a no-frills basis for $5,000 a night. The new, record price is for a holiday package that includes three chauffeured Rolls-Royces, a dinner for 20 with strolling violinists, round-the-clock butler and chambermaid service, private bartender, free-flowing beluga caviar and Dom Pérignon champagne, and breakfast in bed. Checkout time, please note, is still 1 p.m.
FARMING Fertile Fields Of Ginseng
How can farmers boost their sagging income? They can get out of surplus crops like wheat and into something really different, like raising llamas or growing ginseng. That, at least, was the advice given 5,500 farmers from 42 states who gathered last week in Des Moines for Adapt 100, a conference sponsored by Successful Farming magazine that presented 100 novel ideas for ailing farms.