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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"As the twenty-first-century American middle class gets squeezed, with little relief in sight, liberals are wistfully remembering something about the postwar era that they had energetically forgotten. That age of suburban conformity and institutionalized sexism and racism was also a time when big business believed in government and worried about the common good, and was willing to pay for both. Reminding us of that era, and documenting the engagement between the corporate class and the state during the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, is the most valuable contribution of The Fracturing of the American Corporate Elite by Mark Mizruchi. The University of Michigan business school professor, who has written three previous books about the practices and culture of the American corporation, offers a compelling history of how the American corporate elite reconciled itself to the New Deal, and then, in the aftermath of World War II, signed on to a vision of America in which government played a muscular and essential role in steering the economy and underwriting the well-being of the middle class.The business heroes in this narrative are the leaders of the 'moderate, pragmatic corporate elite [that] had emerged, based primarily in the largest American corporations' by the end of World War II. This elite and its views were 'epitomized' by the organization whose history forms the backbone of Mizruchi’s narrative, the Committee for Economic Development (CED). Formally incorporated in 1942, the CED brought together engaged, moderate businessmen from across the country and advanced their views in the major national debates of the subsequent decades. They were an illustrious group: As of July 1945, the CED’s trustees included a senior partner at Goldman Sachs, the chairman of Coca-Cola, the president of General Electric, and the presidents of the Federal Reserve Banks of Boston and St. Louis. The CED, in Mizruchi’s telling, thought the days of untrammeled free-market capitalism were gone, and that both private and government-led economic management would be necessary for a market economy to survive. In order to maintain the system from which their privileges derived, they believed it would be necessary to attend to the welfare of the broader population. This meant supporting a high level of employment, the alleviation of poverty, the amelioration of racial disadvantage, and the provision of sufficient purchasing power in the population to consume the goods that American business was so proficient at producing. This was the creed of the nation’s most influential corporate leaders, a group that supplied Cabinet secretaries to both Republican and Democratic Administrations. Today, with so much of the national economic conversation consumed by the budget deficit and which middle-class entitlements need to be cut to reduce it, that platform would place you on the left wing of the Democratic Party, and no leading business organization would advocate it." (Chrystia Freeland)


"Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) accepted almost 15,000 bottles of fine wine as loan collateral from a former high-ranking executive, according to a regulatory filing last month. Andrew Cader, a former senior director at Goldman Sachs’s specialist-trading unit, pledged a secured interest in the wines, which are primarily from the Burgundy and Bordeaux regions of France, the filing showed. Goldman Sachs’s move stands out because private banks that lend money to wealthy clients against assets such as artwork and real estate have been less willing to extend loans backed by fine wines, said four specialty lenders and attorneys. While investment-grade wines have outperformed the stock market over the past decade, the asset class has been prone to fraud, prompting billionaire William Koch to file a series of lawsuits to deter counterfeiting.  'There are a lot of very highly valued wines here,' said David Parker, the head of Benchmark Wine Group in Napa, California, adding that the collection cited in the filing had an estimated market value in the low-seven-digit dollar range. 'The Bordeaux are all first growth and other classified-growth and the Burgundies are all grand cru and top premier cru.'" (Bloomberg)


"Patrons at Primola remembered the restaurant’s late regular Sen. Frank Lautenberg on Friday. The New Jersey pol and his wife, Bonnie S. Englebardt, were spotted frequently at the Upper East Side eatery. While diners reminisced at the bar, talk-show pioneer Phil Donahue and actress Marlo Thomas were spotted at one table, while CNN’s Chris Cuomo and his wife, Cristina, sat at another. Cuomo’s in-laws, Rainer and Regina Greeven, held court at yet another four-top with Pia Lindström and Jim Mitchell." (PageSix)


"Rain, and more rain; sometimes heavy, sometimes light  but steady, with temperatures in the 60s. Meanwhile, rain or shine, New Yorkers do not stay home if there’s a good party on the horizon. Last night up in Harlem at the legendary Apollo Theater, Chaka Khan was inducted into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame at their Annual Spring Gala Benefit Concert and Awards Ceremony. Wayne Brady hosted the evening, with performances by Patti Labelle and Mary J. Blige." (NYSocialDiary)



"A Saudi royal didn’t quite get the red carpet treatment he expected in Hollywood. The prince descended on the Sunset Tower Hotel’s Tower bar Saturday with 10 bodyguards. Already seated at separate tables were Anjelica Huston, Bradley Cooper, John Mayer, Jason Reitman, and Jason Sudeikis with Vince Vaughn. Betsy Bloomingdale was dining with Barbara Davis. A diner tells us the royal’s people 'insisted on four tables in one area for the guards to watch the prince.' But famed maître d’ Dmitri Dmitrov delicately said he couldn’t move others as, 'The prince wasn’t the only royalty in the room.' He also told the guards they couldn’t stand behind the prince, as, 'that looks tacky.' They wisely did as they were told." (PageSix)



"The other major benefit this week was The Gordon Parks Foundation Awards Dinner and Auction Celebrating the Arts, held last Tuesday at the Plaza. The evening’s honorees were Peter Beard, Swizz Beatz, Donna Karan, and Carrie Mae Weems. Bryan Stokes Mitchell was the honoree and also the evening’s Special Musical Guest. The auction was conducted by the incomparably droll Hugh Hildesley from Sotheby’s. This particular benefit has a quite different flavor from the Botanical last Thursday night. It is also a fairly new entry to the gala benefit scene. I can’t remember when I went to the first one but it was only several years ago. Mr. Parks died only six years ago (at 93). By then he was long regarded as a Master Photographer, famous for his photographic essays for LIFE and for directing the 1971 hit film “Shaft.”  He is rightfully regarded as one of the seminal figures of 20th century photography but also a great humanitarian with a deep commitment to social justice." (NYSocialDiary)

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