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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Media-Whore D'oeuvres






"Andrew Ross Sorkin’s profile of Tim Geithner in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, pegged to the former Treasury secretary’s just-released book, doesn’t break much news. Most of us who followed Geithner’s career already knew he wanted to bail out Lehman Brothers, opposed nationalizing Citigroup, and tried to spike the Volcker Rule. But I’ll say this for Sorkin’s piece: It includes one of the most revealing Geithner quotes I’ve ever read. It comes at the end of the piece, while Geithner  is defending his new job as president of the private equity firm Warburg Pincus. 'The private sector is what most people do for a living,' Geithner tells Sorkin. 'I thought that the possibility some people would criticize me for not staying a public servant was not a good reason not to go try and learn something new.' The line is rather preposterous on its own terms. (As if people would have responded the same way had he left Treasury to become a yoga instructor.) But it inadvertently highlights something deeper about Geithner, which is the shocking extent to which he’s accepted financialization of the economy as a benign, even admirable, development. The people who spend their days shuffling trillions of dollars around the globe are really just like you and me, except with nicer offices. They deserve the same sympathy and respect, notwithstanding their abysmal track record. That blinkered view colors pretty much every one of Geithner’s utterances as he makes the rounds hawking books. To take another revealing example from Sorkin’s piece, at one point Geithner complains about the British government’s efforts to rein in executive pay. 'It wasn’t really designed to change comp,' Geithner says. “It was designed to create the impression that they were changing comp. Did it … make them more popular for doing it? No. Was it effective? No.” Most people might look at the British experiment and conclude that the flaw was making a phony effort, as opposed to an actual effort, to rein in compensation. Geithner looks at the British experiment and concludes that the flaw was making the fake effort as opposed to no effort. Geithner’s most consequential riff has to do with TARP, of coursethe $700 billion Congress approved for shoring up banks in the fall of 2008. Geithner’s view of this, which he’s expressed many times before, is that the government had no plausible alternative to backstopping the banks. As evidence of the soundness of this view, he points to the way taxpayers made money on the transaction: $32 billion so far, perhaps over $100 billion before all is said and done. The amount of nonsense contained in this statement is hard to get your head around." (TNR)







Illustration by Matt Wuerker






"Jeb Bush’s decision whether to run for president in 2016 is being driven by competing impulses within his own family. On one side is his eldest son, George P., who’s unabashedly and publicly supportive of his father’s potential candidacy. On the other are Jeb Bush’s mother and wife, who are clearly reluctant. In between is his older brother, George W., who is passively supportive but seems to friends to be more indifferent than enthusiastic. These viewpoints became apparent in interviews with more than a dozen of Bush’s friends and associates. The opinions of his family members are critical, as Bush has made no secret that his decision will come down to family considerations. But as with any momentous decision involving family dynamics, especially dynastic family dynamics, it’s complicated. The intentions of Jeb himself, who is 61, are hardest to read. He says he will decide by the end of this year. As one of Jeb Bush’s friends put it, he speaks with '2,000 people on a variety of subjects, but when it comes to key decisions’ — like his political future — the voices that count are people named Bush. Who knows how the conversation will go the next time the family gathers at their Kennebunkport oceanside estate, a family retreat since the late 19th century. But some patterns are unmistakable:" (Politico)






Tim-Jim-and-Dre


"This won’t be the first time someone suggested Apple could start its own record label. But with Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, two music industry heavyweights that have built some of the world’s biggest record labels rumored to be getting creative roles at Apple, it’s interesting to imagine what influence Iovine and friends could have on Apple’s approach to content. If Apple is ever going to move on from simply being a music distribution hub taking its 30 percent cut to a record label of sorts fostering, promoting, and investing more in artists, Iovine is as good as it gets. Having built Interscope Records, the label behind some of the biggest artists of the last 20 years from Dr. Dre to Lady Gaga, Iovine’s real expertise is building labels, growing artists and selling music. Iovine himself admits the streaming service and even the headphone business were always a way to get control back to the labels and empower the artists, and that seems to be his main focus." (9to5Mac)












"Yesterday afternoon Betty Sherrill died. I don’t know the details except that I know she was in her 90s. Although up until recently she was still going into the office which came as a surprise to no one who knew her. I’d known Betty for almost 25 years. Betty was a force. I met her when I first came back to New York and started writing these social columns.  She was president of McMillen, the decorating firm. Sometime back then, the firm was celebrating its 75th Anniversary, and she invited me over to their offices to see all the photographs of their (rich and) famously prestigious clientele over those years. She was Old School – a term that has outlived its meaning in the land of No School. There were rules; a code of behavior. They was followed. She was a Southern girl from New Orleans or thereabouts. She came to New York like a lot of us to make her way in life. And yes she did. She still had some of that Southern drawl in her sentences all those years later, and with it she could say the most trenchant things in an offhand, almost lazy/daisy way, and you got the message." (NYSD)

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