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Talk about bull markets.
New York City steakhouse Smith & Wollensky announced in a full-page ad in the New York Times business section today that starting immediately it would accept NYSE and NASDAQ stock certificates in payment for its USDA Prime steaks at both lunch and dinner.
In a tongue-and-cheek message, the ad noted that with large banks paying out bonuses in stock instead of cash, "the effects on the local economy could be catastrophic, leaving large tracts of land in the Hamptons and Martha's Vineyard undeveloped; legions of real estate brokers, personal shoppers and pet psychiatrists unemployed; and massive amounts of steak and lobster uneaten."
So how many shares might you have to fork over for, say, a $48.50 New York Cut sirloin on the bone?
Based on recent trading prices, that slab of aged beef would require just over one and half shares of CIT Group, a third of a share Goldman Sachs, almost 28 1.7 shares of Morgan Stanley and a bit more than 14 shares of Citigroup.
GM shares are an entirely different matter. In the wake of GM's bankruptcy filing, its old shares now trade as Motors Liquidation Company, recently fetching a whopping price of 61 cents, meaning you'd have to part with nearly 80 shares.
Although a Smith & Wollensky spokesperson confirmed to me that the offer is genuine, it's clearly more publicity ploy than what the ad drolly describes as "the first important step towards getting these bonuses back into city's economy."
I'd also say that the chances of legions of Wall Streeters storming the place to take advantage of the offer are about as high as the odds of that GM stock getting back to its pre-bankruptcy high-i.e., about zero.
Why? Well, the mousetype at the bottom of the ad explains that to swap stock for steak, you must surrender in person "the original stock certificates, plus a separate stock power with a medallion signature guarantee affixed."
That's a lot of trouble to go to for lunch or dinner. I suspect investment bankers and hedge fund mangers will instead do what they've always done: put the tab on their expense account.