Bill Gross’s Investment Outlook for May is called “Achoo!” and begins like this:
There’s nothing like a good sneeze; maybe a hot shower or an ice cream sandwich, but no – nothing else even comes close. A sneeze is, to be candid, sort of half erotic, a release of pressure that feels oh so good either before or just after the Achoo! The air, along with 100,000 germs, comes shooting out of your nose faster than a race car at the Indy 500. It feels sooooo good that people used to sneeze on purpose. They’d use snuff and stick it up their nose; the tobacco high and the resultant nasal explosion being the fashion of the times. Healthier than some of the stuff people stick up their nose these days I suppose, but then that’s a generational thing. My generation is closer to the snuff than that other stuff.
For those who only heard of–or began paying attention to– Gross after his series of outbursts following the departure of his CEO and co-CIO Mohammed El-Erian, this latest treatise on sneezing may read like an alarm bell. A signal to everyone that the wheels, which began coming off after Gross called Reuters to complain about an unflattering Wall Street Journal article he insisted was written by El-Erian and not the reporters whose bylines it carried, have really and truly come off.
And to the naked eye, yes, this does seem like the sort of thing that would, at the very least, cause some top lieutenants to walk into Gross’s office, shut the door, and ask gently, “How are you feeling today, Bill? You doing okay?”
Those who know Gross, however, know better.
Long before El-Erian rocked Bill’s world, the PIMCO founder was writing investment outlooks that dealt with:
- Body issues: “I try to do the “blousy” thing when I wear tight golf shirts, but there’s only so much material to go around, so to speak. Swimming also presents a problem because in this case the solution is to pull the waistband up above the navel, which is a sight for even sorer eyes. I never let Sue see my backside, however. Having not seen it myself for 20 years, I’m afraid I might tell her to buy a gun and just shoot me before the fat and the cellulite strike again.”
- The time he acted like a cheap prick to a waitress: “The Gross family legend is rather full of Paul Bunyan tall tales passed down over the years but none perhaps more self- revealing than “The Day When I Gave the Waitress a Negative Tip.” Admittedly I was young and full of testosterone but the service was terribly sloooww and I was in a big hurrrryyy! Finally presented with a $2.00 bill, I took two bucks and wrote the following on a nearby napkin: “Thanks for the sh…ty service, negative tip – you owe me 25 cents.” I didn’t stick around to see the reaction, but I’m sure it was a unique experience for the young lady. I was, of course, like any 21-year-old, in the business of establishing a repertoire of “unique” experiences and this was but one notch on my Paul Bunyan Axe.”
- His hatred of automatic flushing toilets: “I don’t know where it is located exactly, but there’s an electronic eye in the plumbing of public toilets these days that can sense when you get up and down (or is it down and up) and are finally finished with your “business,” if you get my drift. My doctor says a proctology exam is a necessary evil but cameras in toilets?”
That the line “A sneeze is, to be candid, sort of half erotic, a release of pressure that feels oh so good either before or just after the Achoo!” was conceived, typed,1 and printed in an official and very public letter is actually a good thing. His spirit has not been broken.
Earlier: Bill Gross Wants El-Erian To Say It To His Face; Bill Gross Doesn’t Understand Why El-Erian Won’t Just Be A Man, Defend Himself, And Violate His NDA; Mohammed El-Erian May Have Left Pimco Because Of A Chronic And Debilitating Condition That Caused Him To Regularly Look People In The Eye; Don’t Get Caught On “His” Side: A Survival Guide For Pimco Employees; Pimco Investor Considering Pulling Out Over Secretariat’s Erratic Behavior, Some Other Stuff; The New Bill Gross Doesn’t Bite (And If He Does It’s Only Because Old Habits Die Hard); Cheesecake And Kisses: Bill Gross Reflects
1. Though what I wouldn’t give to learn that these things are dictated.↩