Louis Richard Rukeyser
January 30, 1933
New York City, New York
|Died||May 2, 2006 (aged 73)|
|Alma mater||Princeton University|
|Children||3, including Stacy|
|Family||William S. Rukeyser (brother)|
Louis Richard Rukeyser (January 30, 1933 – May 2, 2006) was an American financial journalist, columnist, and commentator, through print, radio, and television.
He was best known for his role as host of two television series, Wall $treet Week with Louis Rukeyser, and Louis Rukeyser's Wall Street. He also published two financial newsletters, Louis Rukeyser's Wall Street and Louis Rukeyser's Mutual Funds.
Rukeyser was famous for his pun-filled humor, and for trying to get investors to ignore short-term gyrations and think long term. In answering a letter on investing in a hairpiece manufacturer, he quipped that "if your money seems to be hair today and gone tomorrow, we'll try to make it grow back by giving the bald facts on how to get your investments toupée."
Rukeyser was born to a Jewish family in New York City, the second of four sons of financial journalist Merryle Stanley Rukeyser and Berenice Helene (née Simon) Rukeyser. He was the younger brother of Merryle S. "Bud", Jr. and older brother of William S. and Robert J. His ancestors came from England, Germany and Latvia, with his paternal great-grandfather arriving in the United States about 1840. He graduated from New Rochelle High School in 1950 and then attended Princeton University, where he graduated with an A.B. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 1954 after completing a senior thesis titled "The Press and Senator McCarthy - a Study of the Coverage of a Controversial Figure by Six New York Newspapers." While at Princeton, Rukeyser's roommate was Wayne Rogers, who would go on to star as 'Trapper John' McIntyre on the hit television series M*A*S*H and much later was a guest on Wall $treet Week with Louis Rukeyser owing to Rogers' success as an investor. Rukeyser was also a member of the University Press Club.
He spent the next eleven years as a political and foreign correspondent for the Baltimore Sun newspapers. He then moved to ABC television as economics correspondent and commentator. He left ABC in 1973. Even after he moved to television, he continued to write for newspapers as a syndicated columnist.
In 1970 he started the popular Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) series Wall $treet Week with Louis Rukeyser, produced by Maryland Public Television (MPT), a PBS member station, at its facilities in Owings Mills, Maryland.
Rukeyser took pride in effectively creating the first television show that focused on Wall Street. With a combination of erudition, plainspokenness, and panache, he made the often arcane workings of the stock market and the economy better known to the mass public for 32 years via Wall Street Week.
The show ran for 32 years, reaching its ratings peak in the mid-1980s. By the 1990s, it faced increasing competition from rivals such as CNBC before Rukeyser left in 2002 after a dispute with network executives who wanted to replace him with younger hosts (he was 69 at the time) with the idea that this would spark ratings. MPT executives offered him a five-minute segment on the new, retooled show; Rukeyser declined. In his final episode, which was broadcast live, he deplored the decision of Maryland Public Television's management and urged viewers to write their PBS stations and clamor for the new financial program he would soon create. Maryland Public Television fired him immediately after the broadcast and erased the master tape; the only existing copies of the broadcast possibly exist at other PBS stations, in home copies or on YouTube under the title "Louis Rukeyser's Swan Song Part 1&2".
Rukeyser had a bit part in the 1988 film "Big Business" starring Lily Tomlin and Bette Midler. He played the part of a business man attempting to climb into a cab when Sadie (played by Bette Midler) whacked him with her bag and stole the cab.
After Rukeyser's departure, the series was renamed Wall $treet Week with FORTUNE and co-hosted by the editorial director of Fortune magazine, Geoffrey Colvin, along with Karen Gibbs, a former senior business correspondent on the Fox News Channel. But without Rukeyser, the show's ratings collapsed and Maryland Public Television finally pulled the plug in June 2005.
Shortly after leaving Wall $treet Week, Rukeyser began a new program, Louis Rukeyser's Wall Street (named after one of his newsletters) on the cable channel CNBC. Highly unusual for a cable network, advertising on the show was limited to before-and-after "underwriting" announcements similar to those on non-commercial broadcast stations. This was done at Rukeyser's insistence, so that WLIW, the secondary PBS station in the New York area, could offer the program to its viewers on the weekend.
Rukeyser was diagnosed with multiple myeloma (a type of hematological malignancy) around this time and began missing appearances on the show, which was finally cancelled at his own request after health problems kept him away more than a year.
The monthly Louis Rukeyser's Wall Street newsletter was first published in 1992; two years later, Louis Rukeyser's Mutual Funds was started.
Rukeyser's monthly newsletters continued to be published by KCI Communications (now Capitol Information Group) under the editorship of Benjamin Shepherd until October 2012 when Rukeyser Mutual Funds was discontinued and Louis Rukeyser's Wall Street was changed to Ben Shepherd's Wall Street.
Over the years, stock traders and analysts noted that a company touted on W$W on Friday would experience a spike (rapid short term advance) in its stock price the following Monday. This phenomenon, dubbed "The Rukeyser Effect," was described as a further demonstration of the program's influence. However, in 1987, Professor Robert Pari of Bentley College published an academic article in the Journal of Portfolio Management detailing the results of a study that found that stocks recommended by Rukeyser's guests on Wall $treet Week not only tended to rise in price and trading volume in the days preceding the Friday evening broadcast, peaking on the Monday afterward, but also tended to under perform the market for up to a year following the recommendation. Rukeyser strongly disputed this claim, but ten years later Professors Jess Beltz and Robert Jennings published another academic article in the Review of Financial Economics reporting results consistent with Pari's original findings, and that there was "little correlation between the 6-month performance of a recommendation and the abnormal volume at the date the recommendation is made." They observed that there were differences in return performance between the recommendations of different individuals, but the market could not discern the more insightful recommendations from the less insightful. Another commentator noted "It is mathematically impossible for the thirty million viewers of this show to beat the market, since they are the market."
Rukeyser and his wife, former British journalist Alexandra Gill, had three daughters, Beverley Jane Rukeyser Bellisio, systems analyst (married to Anthony J. Bellisio in 1985); Susan Athena Rukeyser; and Stacy Alexandra Rukeyser Peterson, a television writer and producer (married to film producer Clark Peterson in 2010).
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