Financial Journalist Louis Rukeyser Dies at 73

John Ydstie has a remembrance of straight-talking business commentator Louis Rukeyser. The author, columnist and television host died Tuesday. He was 73.

JOHN YDSTIE, host:

A witty and dapper commentator on the business world, Louis Rukeyser, died yesterday. He was 73.

For more than three decades as the host of PBS's Wall Street Week, Rukeyser thrived at the intersection of economics and pop culture, a symbol of intelligent, no-nonsense business analysis.

Even singer Tom Chapin paid tribute to him in a song.

Mr. TOM CHAPIN (Musician): (Singing) Then the bluebird of happiness is a harbinger of doom, and when that bluebird finally lets it fly it always lands right on the little guy. And even Louis Rukeyser don't have a reason why. Econo-me, econo-you...

YDSTIE: Rukeyser was at ABC News before becoming the host of Wall Street Week, the program that would define his career.

In a 1988 interview on NPR's Fresh Air, Rukeyser revealed his three simple rules for explaining economics to average Americans.

First, speak English.

(Soundbite of 1988 Interview with Louis Rukeyser)

Mr. LOUIS RUKEYSER: Second, having spoken in English, there's a high probability that many people will understand what you said. Therefore, it's helpful if you have some knowledge of what you're talking about. We have now, with those two rules, eliminated virtually everything on the air.

You go to number three, which is you've got to do it with a little bit of flair.

YDSTIE: And flair and dry wit is what millions of Americans came to expect from Rukeyser.

Mr. RUKEYSER: I have a respect for money, don't misunderstand me, but I don't think that money is everything. And I think to know about money equates with being obsessed with money. I think the best way to keep money in perspective is to have some, manage it intelligently, and then go on to the next thing.

YDSTIE: Louis Rukeyser died yesterday at his Greenwich, Connecticut home. He was 73 years old.

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