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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres



"On December 14, 2010, the television news program 60 Minutes aired a 14-minute piece about U.S. state and local finances. Correspondent Steve Kroft interviewed a private Wall Street analyst named Meredith Whitney, who, back in 2007, had gone from being obscure to famous when she correctly suggested that Citigroup’s losses in U.S. subprime bonds were far bigger than anyone imagined, and predicted the bank would be forced to cut its dividend. The 60 Minutes segment noted that U.S. state and local governments faced a collective annual deficit of roughly half a trillion dollars, adding that another trillion-dollar gap existed between what the governments owed retired workers and the money they had on hand to pay them. Whitney pointed out that even these numbers were unreliable, and probably optimistic, as the states did a poor job of providing information about their finances to the public. New Jersey governor Chris Christie concurred with her and added, 'At this point, if it’s worse, what’s the difference?' ... All states may have been created equal, but they were equal no longer. The states that had enjoyed the biggest boom were now facing the biggest busts. “How does the United States emerge from the credit crisis?' Whitney asked herself. 'I was convinced—because the credit crisis had been so different from region to region—that it would emerge with new regional strengths and weaknesses. Companies are more likely to flourish in the stronger states; the individuals will go to where the jobs are. Ultimately, the people will follow the companies.' The country, she thought, might organize itself increasingly into zones of financial security and zones of financial crisis. And the more clearly people understood which zones were which, the more friction there would be between the two. (Indiana is going to be like, ‘N.F.W. I’m bailing out New Jersey.’ ) As more and more people grasped which places had serious financial problems and which did not, the problems would only increase. 'Those who have money and can move do so,' Whitney wrote in her report to her Wall Street clients, 'those without money and who cannot move do not, and ultimately rely more on state and local assistance. It becomes effectively a tragedy of the commons.’ The point of Meredith Whitney’s investigation, in her mind, was not to predict defaults in the municipal-bond market. It was to compare the states with one another so that they might be ranked. She wanted to get a sense of who in America was likely to play the role of the Greeks, and who the Germans. Of who was strong, and who weak. In the process she had, in effect, unearthed America’s scariest financial places. 'So what’s the scariest state?' I asked her. She had to think for only about two seconds. 'California.'." (Michael Lewis/Vanity Fair)


"Will Michele Bachmann make it to Iowa? Insiders are whispering that the Tea Party darling’s financials are grim and she may be out of the race before she makes it to the Iowa caucus in February, even though she has a strong base in the state. Sources tell us say Bachmann’s skeletal staff are holding their collective breath until the deadline to disclose her fundraising report on Oct. 15. Meanwhile, we hear a computer vendor has called her campaign headquarters threatening to shut down the power due to an outstanding bill. Sources say she had about $400,000 at the beginning of September, but also stacks of bills. 'She does not like to ask for money. She should have been focusing on big donors about three months ago,' a source said. 'She’s only cultivated low dollar donors with direct mailings and that’s hurt her.' But at a rally in Virginia yesterday, Bachmann declared that she does not intend to back out of the race. 'We intend to be the comeback kid in this race,” she said. Her rep said, “None of that is true.'" (PageSix)


"There was a good crowd at Michael’s where I went to lunch with Liz Peek, who heads the Couture Council of the Museum at FIT. Liz and her team have in just a few years raised the public profile of the Museum with their Couture Council activities, one of which has now become the opening act of Fashion Week in September with their fundraising luncheons honoring a major fashion figure. This year you might remember, if you care, that it was Valentino, the man himself. The luncheon event was soon followed by the opening of the Daphne Guinness Collection which is running now through January 7th at the Museum. There is an excellent piece on this and the lady by Rebecca Mead in last week’s New Yorker ... At the tables. Peter Brown, Jamie Niven and Leonard Lauder; Barbara Tober and Donna Solloway, Randy Jones, Joni Evans, Steven Stolman and Bill Crittenden, Paula Wagner, the famous Tom Cruise producing partner; Michael’s very own Brenda Starr, Diane Clehane with HarperCollins’ Lisa Sharkey; Liz Wood; David Sanford of the WSJ; Jack Kliger of TV Guide .." (NYSocialDiary)



"Things have been pretty busy at Michael’s this week. On Monday, none other than James Bond aka Daniel Craig dropped by. ('His eye are so blue!' cooed one smitten staffer). Yesterday, a very laid back Rosie O’Donnell showed up with, so we’re told, a new lady love in tow, and they didn’t have to wait for one of the coveted tables at the very front of the restaurant. They settled for something further back. Today, the usual Wednesday SRO crowd started showing up well before the appointed lunch hour, leaving plenty of time for air kissing and glad handing all around ... (Table 2). Six-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls, Scottie Pippen, with PR gal Tammy Brooks and some other lovely looking ladies we didn’t get to meet ... 8. New York Social Diary’s David Patrick Columbia (who stopped by our table to say hello) with Liz Peek" (FishbowlNY)



"This latest stampede to Christie came after Perry delivered a sometimes incoherent debate performance last week. The Texas governor also managed to anger the party’s right-wing base with a policy offering subsidized education for the children of illegal immigrants. Perry has been getting pummeled ever since. He has been accused of not being prepared, and of being dumb. And that’s just from Republicans. A recent poll showed Mitt Romney leapfrogging ahead of him—but neither the media nor the party establishment will rally around Romney as a frontrunner. 'That’s because Romney was branded the loser last time, and the narrative hasn’t changed yet,' says Jeff Jarvis, a New Jersey blogger and author who has followed Christie’s career closely. 'I can’t tell you what he’s going to do, but I definitely think he’s being coquettish now—instead of cutting speculation off.'" (TheDailyBeast)

1 comment:

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