Archive for April, 2012

Buddy Fletcher: “Virtually Worthless”

Posted on April 30th, 2012 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

In the Cayman Islands, a judge ruled that Buddy Fletcher’s settlement offer to the Louisiana pension funds who are suing him, seeking recovery of their investments, was “virtually worthless.”

The Journal reports:

In a written decision released this past week, the Cayman Islands judge found that to secure the value Fletcher put on the investment, the pension funds would need to put up an additional $65 million and prevail in a lawsuit against a Georgia bank.

Fletcher essentially offered the unions warrants to buy stock in a troubled bank, then grossly overvalued the warrants.

It’s worth noting that this is the same tactic Fletcher used when donating the Alphonse Fletcher University professorship to Harvard—and that Harvard did indeed have to go to court to fulfill the deal.

Headline of the Day

Posted on April 27th, 2012 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Luck. Griffin. Then It Gets Interesting.

Today’s New York TImes, in an article apparently about my 7-week-old son.

(All right, not really, but I like to think.)

You Stay Classy, Boston

Posted on April 27th, 2012 in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Must you always live up to your racist reputation?

Unsettling Quote of the Day

Posted on April 26th, 2012 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

“This app may post on your behalf, including videos you watched, articles you read and more.”

From the pop-up description of the Yahoo News app for Facebook.

George Orwell would appreciate that line—”this app may post on your behalf…”

Cornel on Fox

Posted on April 26th, 2012 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Cornel West and Tavis Smiley here debate Sean Hannity on income inequality…by Fox standards, a fairly intelligent discussion.

The New York Athletic Club is a Terrible Place in General…

Posted on April 26th, 2012 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

…but apparently a great one for fights.

I once had to live at the NYAC for about six weeks, and it was hell. The people who worked there were incredibly rude and snotty—every single time I walked in, someone asked me if I was a member—the rooms would have been a step down for monks, and the athletic facilities felt like something out of Saw.

So I am delighted to read of a huge fight that happened at the bar in the club, which sounds, frankly, hilarious.

From the blog Wall Street Jackass, which one likes instantly:

It was the best fight I’ve ever seen. Young people, old people, girls , members , non members, it was a nondiscriminatory rage match. …probably two broken noses right off the back, one dude knocked straight on his butt on the first punch, glasses thrown, broken glass everywhere , and all the tables turned over or shoved to the side, they were making their arena…..The first break in the fight occurred when a random guy hopped in to break it up, his girlfriend by his side . The commotion ended so everyone thought , until somebody knocked the guy’s girlfriend over and this kid laid one dude right out. So now the fight expanded to three groups, three wolfpacks. Girl got knocked over again

Now the club is getting all touchy about it.

I love the comments on this Times piece, by the way. Such as:

“I hope this doesn’t lead to further violence in The Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard this summer!!”

“Wolf packs? Lion’s Pit? Ragematch? This is probably the single most brilliant piece of journalism I have read in a while. If this does not get a Pulitzer, then there is no justice in the world.”

“I have to congratulate the club on this wonderful marketing effort. Brilliant!!!! Its clearly the most interesting and exciting thing to have happened at 180 CPS in many years.”

“Stay classy, one-percenters.”

Someone really ought to do a book of the best Internet commenting sprees.

Quote of the Day

Posted on April 26th, 2012 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

“These officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe.”

—JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, explaining why his bank has contributed $4.6 million to the New York Police Association, its largest gift to that organization ever by far, a few weeks before Occupy Wall Street protests are expected to resume. (Source: Bloomberg)

The Case for Shark Attacks

Posted on April 25th, 2012 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Way to Go, New York Times

Posted on April 25th, 2012 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Since I bash the Times a lot, let me commend Charles McGrath for a terrific NYT Mag piece on biographer Bob Caro, who’s a hero of mine.

This kind of knowledge [about Lyndon Johnson] does not come easily or cheaply. Caro has taken so long with Johnson that his agent, Lynn Nesbit, no longer remembers how many times she has renegotiated his contract; his publishing house has had two editors in chief, and no one there worries much about his deadlines any longer. The books come along when they come along. “I’m not a charity case,” Caro pointed out to me last month when I remarked on how Knopf had stuck by him all these years. It’s true that the Johnson volumes have been glowingly reviewed (“The Path to Power” and “Means of Ascent” both won the National Book Critics Circle Award and “Master of the Senate” won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award) and that each of them has been a best seller, but it’s also true that they turn up so infrequently that Caro can hardly be thought of as a brand name. “Are the books profitable?” Sonny Mehta, Knopf’s current head, who took over the Johnson project — enthusiastically — after Gottlieb’s departure in 1987, said last month. He paused for a moment. “They will be,” he answered finally, “because there is nothing like them.”

If that’s an exaggeration, it’s not much of one. I can’t wait for the next volume.

Talking with Robert Shiller

Posted on April 25th, 2012 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

My interview with the Yale economist is in the April/May issue of Worth, but if you’re not a reader, here it is.

The most relevant part for this audience might be when he and I spoke about Wall Street and academia, and what happens when the twain meet. After discussing how economists were portrayed in the film Inside Job, our conversation went like this:

RB: Isn’t there a danger, though, of academics being corrupted? Ruth Simmons, the president of Brown, recently found herself in a controversy over being paid millions for serving on the corporate board of Goldman Sachs, even though she had no financial expertise whatsoever.

RS: But maybe that’s not a bad thing, to have the president of Brown on the Goldman Sachs board, if she was a moral influence on them.

RB: It’s also possible that she just wanted Goldman Sachs’ money for herself and for Brown.

RS: People are selfish, often, and they are cliquish—these are human traits. They form alliances and exclude others. The history of this country is to try to create opportunity so that people can break into these cliques.

You said that the president of Brown serving on the Goldman Sachs board creates opportunities for her to behave selfishly, but it also creates opportunities for her to behave altruistically. Isn’t Goldman to b e congratulated for putting the president of Brown on the board? What’s the cynical view?

RB: The cynical view is that they wanted a black woman, of whom there aren’t a lot at Goldman Sachs….

RS: So that’s even better—they put a black academic on their board.

RB: …and if she lacked expertise, so much the better.

The conversation continues from there. A very thoughtful and intelligent man, Robert Shiller. His new book is called Finance and the Good Society.