Company News

Oppenheimer strategist Michael Metz dies at 79

NEW YORK, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Michael Metz, Oppenheimer & Co’s highly regarded chief investment strategist and a five-decade Wall Street veteran, died late Wednesday at the age of 79, the company said on Thursday.

Metz had been battling cancer, according to a close friend, Steve Stern.

Metz, who joined Oppenheimer in 1969, was one of the rare voices on Wall Street warning about many major bubbles. He recommended to clients earlier this year that stocks were headed for a dramatic fall -- shortly afterwards he was proved right as the major indexes entered a bear market.

Metz was one of the first analysts to raise red flags about the dangers of the deteriorating housing and credit markets. He based that call on the stock market on the belief the U.S. economy would be in recession “all through 2008 and 2009.”

Metz had held the chief strategist position since 1990. He retired in December 2002, but went back to his old job at the New York-based firm less than a year later.

“Mike needed to hear the noise of the financial world to keep himself relaxed,” Terrence O’Rourke, a colleague of Metz, said in a statement. “He appreciated this soon after initially retiring in 2002, the same way a New Yorker finds it difficult to sleep, once he moves to the nice, quiet countryside.”

Metz told Reuters exactly one year ago today that the Federal Reserve faced a “difficult quandary.” He said: “Unfortunately, the Fed is powerless because it’s not now a question of the price of credit, it is the availability of credit -- and that is the real danger.”

He was often featured in major publications and regularly appeared on television.

“I met Mike Metz in 1969 and he was simply the smartest, most engaging man on Wall Street,” said Stern.

Metz is survived by his wife, Janine.

“It is with deep sadness that I report the passing last night of Michael Metz,” said Albert Lowenthal, chairman and CEO of Oppenheimer in a statement. “His wisdom and warmth will be greatly missed.” (Reporting by Jennifer Ablan and Kristina Cooke; Editing by Leslie Adler)