Financial Pundit Louis Rukeyser

Originally written by Carl White.


One day many years ago, as I was circling the Lake Avenue rotary near Greenwich Hospital, I happened to spot a white-haired man in a Jaguar convertible. He looked very familiar, but I couldn’t quite place him. A few days later, I was watching the PBS TV channel when the same man appeared! It was financial expert Louis Rukeyser, who had his own show. I came across his picture in my Local History vertical files lately and decided to write a blog about him.


Louis Rukeyser was born on January 30, 1933, in New York City. His father was Merryle Rukeyser, who was an economic columnist for 30 years. At 23 years, Merryle was the financial editor for the New York Herald Tribune. He was considered a “wonder boy of financial journalism.” No doubt, this is where Louis got his interest in finance.

Louis spent his boyhood in New Rochelle. He and his 3 brothers created a family newspaper entitled “The Rukeyserian.” It was a simple typewritten newspaper about family news. At age 8, he wrote for a camp newspaper, and at age 11 became a school correspondent at New Rochelle High School. It wasn’t until age 16 that he began getting paid for his work. By then, he was reporting on high school sports for 50 cents an hour.


In 1954, he graduated from Princeton University and became a reporter for the Baltimore Sun. After 5 years, he became the London Bureau Chief, then assumed a job as an Asian correspondent. Rukeyser joined ABC as the first economic commentator. In 1970, the Maryland Center for Public Broadcasting launched the financial program “Wall Street Week.” Louis worked on this program for 5 years before others hosted the program.

Rukeyser with his English-born wife, Alexandra, and his 3 daughters moved to Greenwich in 1976. The proximity to New York City, and the beautiful scenery of the town, no doubt figured in his decision to move here. He continued to appear on television until 2002 when he was replaced by younger analysts from Fortune Magazine. Undeterred, he re-established his show on CNBC.  Surprisingly, his sponsors moved with him!


To say Rukeyser was a success is an understatement. By the mid-1980s, he had 6 million viewers. He was making $350,000 a year for his television appearances and was making $ 1 million for his speaking engagements. He also wrote two books, which were quite popular. Louis continued to write a newspaper column, and two newsletters – “Louis Rukeyser’s Wall Street” and “Louis Rukeyser’s Mutual Funds.”

What made Rukeyser so popular? He appealed to small investors and middle-class male head-of-households. He was bullish and the market, and extremely optimistic about the future. His contempt for sad sack professional investors was legendary. He even terminated a panelist, who forecast hard times which never materialized. It may have been a coincidence (or not) that the market moved up and peaked. Was it because Rukeyser was so bearish that pushed the market up, or did the fact that the market was up make him bearish?

Louis Rukeyser loved the finer things in life. He liked fine wine and ate at the finest restaurants. His suits were impeccable. The Fashion Foundation of America labeled him “the best-dressed man in finance.” He could be contemptuous of distinguished guests, who predicted bear markets. At other times, he was light-hearted and loved using puns. This is attributed to his father, who was a good friend of punster, Bennett Cerf.

Rukeyser had to stop broadcasting in 2003, due to failing health. The following year, he received the Gerald Loeb Lifetime Achievement Emmy for Business and Financial Reporting. He received other awards throughout his career, including the 1978 Freedom Foundation Award.

Louis Rukeyser died in Greenwich on May 2, 2006, from a rare bone marrow cancer. He was the foremost financial expert and economic commentator of his generation. Many believed he could influence the stock market through his observations. This became known as “The Rukeyser Effect.” His sense of humor and penchant for puns was evident in his shows. We could sure use his keen observations and commentary today.


Grant, J:  New York Times:  Louis Rukeyser, Television Host, Dies at 73

White, M;   Greenwich Time:  A TV Host With Wall Street Smarts; Southwestern Connecticut Newspapers, Stamford;  November 26, 1991, Pg B6


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