Thomas Edison once described Charles M. Schwab as "the master hustler". He meant it as a compliment.

For one brief moment in 1916 Schwab had an offer in hand that would have made him the richest man in the world. At the close of the first year of the Great War the German ambassador to the United States offered Schwab $100 million for his controlling interest in Bethlehem Steel. The British armaments industry was almost completely dependent on Bethlehem to produce the high carbon steel essential for manufacturing cannon barrels and submarine hulls. When the British learned of Count von Bernstorff's offer, they were scrambled to make a counter-offer. The British ambassador Cecil Rice and the President of Chase National Bank, Barton Hepburn, approached Schwab and proposed to buy him out for $150M. Schwab said no.

Reading the numbers for Amazon today [September 2cnd] made me think of what Mr. Bezos could realize if he sold out. The likelihood is that he would say "no".

The numbers: Amazon's common stock sells for 58 times next year's predicted earnings and 36 times the total earnings for the company in its 22 years of public trading.


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