Such a feast! And the nieces and nephews are growing up to be such great people! Charles cooked a spectacular dinner for 34 – and is now at JFK headed to London. His brother the priest is at the airport headed for Nigeria. My brother the scholar is at the airport headed for Oakland. And I am at the airport – we are all at JFK in different terminals – headed South. Eat your heart out Marco Polo. I even have TV in the seatback in front of me.

AL FRANKEN ON THE STUMP

One of the things I failed to mention in my things-to-be-thankful-for list Wednesday was that most of us are Americans. What did we do to be born here? We just got lucky. (See John Rawls’ veil of ignorance.)

But reading a recent profile of Senate candidate Al Franken, I thought this excerpt somehow fit with the holiday:

Another transformation seems to be happening to Franken on the campaign trail. In the past, he’s often been portrayed as an angry grouch, and indeed his books are as depressing as they are funny in their meticulous detailing of America’s woes. But all this exposure to the youth of today-and media consultants-has had an uplifting effect on Franken. ‘A lot of the kids I was talking to, the freshmen were like 11 years old when Bush became president, and they don’t remember having a president who was articulate; they don’t remember that the federal government actually could work; they don’t remember when America was a really well-respected country,’ Franken tells me later. ‘And I felt my job was to tell them, No, no, no! We used to be the leader of the world and we can be again! We’re the country that went to the moon and we’re the country that beat Fascism and Communism and rebuilt Europe and we’re the country that’s mapped the human genome and we’re the country that had enough juice left over to invent the Internet and rock and roll, you know? I mean, we’re a great country! So I found myself sort of cheerleading. I was giving not just them but myself a pep talk. Sometimes I say the reason I’m running is my dad’s generation was the Greatest Generation, and I just don’t want ours to be the Worst Generation.’ He laughs his bullfrog laugh. ‘I wanna actually be able to look at my kids and say I tried my damnedest to get us up to the Mediocre Generation. I really did everything I could.’

ANOTHER SPACULATION

If cash will be king next year, you may want to consider the units – or perhaps the stock or the warrants – of another SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company, or ‘blank check’ company) whose offering was significantly oversubscribed last month. It is the NRDC Acquisition Company, one of whose principals I know to be a smart guy (and with whom, full disclosure, I have some business dealings). Which is a guarantee of nothing. But to be sitting on $400 million in cash these days could be a good place to sit – especially when each NAQ share currently sells for about $9.20, yet represents $9.82 in cash.

Unlike the HAPN cliffhanger, whose acquisition could have been quashed if 20% of the shareholders had demanded their cash back, this one requires 30% of all the shares to be redeemed to quash the deal.

So Wednesday I bought some units for $10.03 and some warrants for 92 cents.

If no deal is done, those 92-cent warrants expire worthless. If a deal is done, they entitle you to buy the underlying stock for $7.50 until October 17, 2011 (unless the stock trades at or above $14.25 for 20 days and the company chooses to force conversion).

So, on the warrants, heads you lose 92 cents, tails you turn 92 cents into $6.75 (the right to buy a $14.25 stock for $7.50 being worth $6.75) . . . except that this coin analogy suggests a 50-50 chance, when in fact no one knows the odds of the two outcomes – and there could be intermediate outcomes. The stock could be $9, say, four years from now, or $10. You do okay, if the stock is $9 or $10 when the warrants expire but not nearly as okay as you would have done if it were $14.25.

Buying the warrants is highly (but I think not stupidly) speculative. Buying the units is low risk (if you don’t like the deal, you can eventually exercise your right to get most of, or quite possibly a bit more than, your money back). Buying the stock, likewise.

What I like about this is that, if the economy goes to hell as it may, that could work in favor of smart guys sitting on $400 million.

Here is the full prospectus.

 

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