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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"I believe that misconceptions play a large role in shaping history, and the euro crisis is a case in point. Let me start my analysis with the previous crisis, the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. In the week following September 15, 2008, global financial markets actually broke down and by the end of the week they had to be put on artificial life support. The life support consisted of substituting sovereign credit—backed by the financial resources of the state—for the credit of financial institutions that had ceased to be acceptable to counterparties. As Mervyn King of the Bank of England explained, the authorities had to do in the short term the exact opposite of what was needed in the long term: they had to pump in a lot of credit, to replace the credit that had disappeared, and thereby reinforce the excess credit and leverage that had caused the crisis in the first place. Only in the longer term, when the crisis had subsided, could they drain the credit and reestablish macroeconomic balance. This required a delicate two-phase maneuver—just as when a car is skidding, first you have to turn it in the direction of the skid and only when you have regained control can you correct course. The first phase of the maneuver was successfully accomplished—a collapse has been averted. But the underlying causes have not been removed and they surfaced again when the financial markets started questioning the creditworthiness of sovereign debt." (George Soros)



"AskMen: Do you ever find yourself having 'Bret Easton Ellis moments'? Where an event or time in your life feels like something out of your own stories? Bret Easton Ellis: Yeah, in a way. I just got back from a UK tour about a week ago, and there was a 'Bret Easton Ellis night.' The tours are really packed with signing, so it was surprising. There was really no time for a Bret Easton Ellis moment; it was all work mode. But one night there was a book party and I had to go to this party; my publisher sent over this suit that I had to wear — it was a really nice suit — because there were going to be lots of photographers there. Plus, I was staying in the nicest hotel in London, and it was already feeling very Bret Easton Ellis already. Then we went to this private club, where there was a private party. There were all these people there, and drugs started appearing. People were doing drugs, and everyone was wearing nice suits, and it was in a really posh place in London. We then took the party back to my hotel room, where people started to act a bit depraved. And people started to have sex on my couch in front of me, and there were blow lines out in places. At six in the morning I just threw them all out because I finally needed to go to sleep. So, yes, I do have Bret Easton Ellis moments once in a while." (Observer)



"Anna Tibaijuka, the outgoing head of the U.N.'s top settlements agency, UN-Habitat, sharply criticized U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a parting letter for failing to swiftly appoint a successor despite frequent appeals to ensure a smooth leadership transition. The Tanzanian chief of the Nairobi-based agency, which is responsible for promoting housing rights for the poor, warned in the confidential letter dated Aug. 10 that the avoidable "management and leadership vacuum" threatened to derail the agency's achievements and endanger international funding for its programs. She also complained that she had not been consulted about the recruitment process for selecting her successor and suggested she was being forced out of the U.N. system unwillingly." (ForeignPolicy)



"There's no consensus among my sources tonight over which motion picture is No. 1 at the Friday box office. There's the newcomer, another of those cheap Fox spoofs Vampires Suck which opened Wednesday and looks slightly ahead today vs Sly Stallone's action holdover The Expendables which should win the weekend for Lionsgate. In fact, the order of the entire Top 7 is in doubt. Some of the discrepancy has to do with factoring in just East Coast grosses vs including West Coast late shows." (Deadline)



"Augustitis has struck even royals and A-listers. This week was filled with infighting, money wrangling, and plenty of defenses put up by the well-to-do. Aside from a pricey cell phone bill, Mel Gibson has been racking up expenses from living large for the last few years. In new court papers, Mel allegedly spends up to $7.2 million on himself each year, despite leaving voicemails to his ex claiming 'I don’t have any f***ing money!' Mel is offering to pay $6,000 a month in child support for his daughter Lucia. Oksana claims she deserves more." (Maria Caracciola)



(ToddTriplett and Philip McKenzie)

"Last night the Morrison Hotel Gallery opened Benj Gershman's 'Rock, Cause O.A.R.' exhibit. The photography show, which also featured manzanita wood sculptures by Gershman's uncle, Doug 'Neehar' Chesler, included landscapes and behind-the-scenes images from Gershman's tours with his band, O.A.R. Though one wall consisted only of polaroid-sized 'hipstamatic' images printed directly on metal that were shot on his iPhone from this year's tour, the show possessed an organic flow, which, in Gershman's words, 'is the essence of my approach to photography and making music.' The party transitioned downstairs to the basement of the gallery for a concert, which musician Mikel Paris started it off playing his unique 'guitar drum' with Glen Mauser on the sax/keyboard, and Mal Stein on the drums. Jerry DePizzo from O.A.R. joined in on the sax, and eventually Gershman played bass with Erik Lewis a/k/a 'ELEW' on the keyboard. The crowd included friends, family, O.A.R. fans and Mick Rock. You know its a good party when a legendary music photographer stops by and stays a while." (Papermag)



"As befits a man who has written an acclaimed book about money and prices, Adam Fergusson starts our encounter by eyeing the menu beadily and asking who will be paying the bill. 'Milton Friedman said the most efficient way of spending money is to spend your own, and the least efficient way is to spend other people’s,' he says. 'If you go out to lunch and have to pay your own bill, you have what you want and can afford. If someone else is paying, you may as well have the lobster.' As I confirm that the FT will be paying, we scan the menu but, alas, there is no lobster ... Fergusson, 78, a former journalist and politician, is enjoying an unexpected literary revival thanks to the republication last month of a book he wrote 35 years ago – a history of the hyperinflation in 1920s Weimar Germany. When Money Dies tells the story of Germany’s economic collapse after the first world war, which culminated in the mind-boggling inflation of late 1923 – a dreadful time when visitors to Berlin saw people starving in the streets and the number of marks to the pound was at one point equivalent to the number of yards from the earth to the sun. Already a cult text among gold enthusiasts and inflation phobes (old copies of the original hardback were until recently trading at up to £1,800 each on the web), it received a further boost when it was revealed in a Sunday newspaper at the time of the relaunch that the book was admired by the US investor, Warren Buffett, and recommended by him to others. It seemed to confirm Fergusson as the sage to whom the Sage of Omaha himself turned." (FT)

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