Earlier this month, the Times reported that Mayor Bloomberg and his advisers had been “floating the possibility of mayoral runs to at least five boldface figures,” including Chuck Schumer, Mort Zuckerman, Ed Rendell, Edward Skyler, and Hillary Clinton. Strangely left off the list? A woman who some might say is actually Hizzoner’s most worthy successor and who conveniently announced her intent to run today: Kristin Davis, the woman who once supplied Eliot Spitzer with hot young tail. Read more »
One problem that a lot of people have noticed is that Americans do not spend enough time talking about politics. Yes, you can devote several hours a day to watching political news and forwarding political emails and signing secession petitions, but certain areas of life are not utterly infused with political rancor. Buying stocks is … somewhere on the spectrum, less politicized than buying beer but more politicized than buying toothpaste.
Lucian Bebchuk wants to change that. He has a post on DealBook, based on this paper he wrote with Rob Jackson, urging the SEC to make companies disclose their political contributions, so that you can get all mad and sell your stock in companies that make contributions to your less preferred candidate and buy stock in companies that make contributions to your more preferred candidate. I mean, I can just tell you: buy oil stocks if you’re a Republican and tech stocks if you’re a Democrat and the financial industry is kind of a mixed bag but, lately, Republican.
You could ask yourself a question like “why should a company do what its shareholders want?” and then you could answer “because the shareholders own the company,” but that is not an entirely compelling answer. They don’t really; they are residual claimants on the company’s income, or whatever; nobody owns the company, the company is people my friend; the company is a bundle of sticks, and there you are with your stick, waving it around while you beg the question. The company perhaps – perhaps! – owes shareholders an honest day’s effort to maximize the value of that residual income; it does not owe them doing the things that they want it to do.
But also, how do you know what the shareholders want? Or, what is a shareholder? I like thinking of most efforts at shareholder empowerment as kind of “let’s get rid of the agency costs of letting corporate executives use investor money for their personal silly goals and let investment managers use investor money for their personal silly goals.” Read more »
Earlier today, Politico ran a story titled “Can Chuck Schumer win back Wall St. for Democrats?” Apparently the New York Senator recently “embarked on a fence-mending campaign with senior Wall Street executives, many of whom have grown furious with the Democratic party,” in a charm offensive that has included “holding private dinners [including one put on by Pershing Square manager Bill Ackman], organizing high-end fundraisers for Democratic candidates and quietly pressing for super PAC donations.” According to Politico, “the outreach appears to be working: Hedge fund and private-equity executives have held six different fundraisers for Democratic challengers and senators at Schumer’s request, sources say.” Some financial services employees, however, are not so easy. Take Cliff Asness for example. The AQR manager happened to read the piece and here’s what he had to say about it: Read more »
If you’re into this sort of thing you can go read Mitt Romney’s tax returns and learn (on page 5 of the 2011 return) that he is in the “independent artists, writers, performers” business, which seems about right. (But which one?) You can also learn that he’s doing okay, financially-wise, and some more specific stuff; tantalizingly, you can’t get a good picture of his returns on assets because his financial disclosure forms are so meaninglessly bucketed. Most crucially, you can learn that he paid about a 15% tax rate on his take last year. There is a lot you can think about this. Some of it revolves around the badness of taxing capital gains at a lower rate than labor income, which, whatever, not my beat. Some of it revolves around the badness of taxing private equity labor income as capital gains, which, I mean, I’m sympathetic to, but also not my beat, but in any case this income is actually capital gains. Like, Mitt wasn’t working at Bain Capital last year. He was just sitting around, doing his “independent artist/writer/performer” thing, collecting money from the other money that he got 20 years ago. That’s what capital gains is. Anyway.
If you’re really into this sort of thing you can also go read Newt Gingrich’s tax return, but you won’t, because the numbers on it are smaller and where’s the fun in that? But USA Today of all people actually went and read it and they found … maybe tax fraud? That was unexpected:
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Donald Trump Will Consider Running For Office ‘Again’ If The Economy Doesn’t Improve, He Can’t Execute His Vision For Jones BeachBy Bess Levin
When Donald Trump chose not to run for President, the American people lost a lot. They lost the opportunity to hear the Don tell China, “Listen you motherfuckers, we’re going to tax you at 25 percent.” They lost the opportunity to watch a presidential candidate tell Bill Cosby to blow him. And most of all, the lost the opportunity to behold as bankruptcy specialist Donald Trump used his expertise to lead us out of the economic darkness and into the light. Though he remained silent on the debt talks for far too long, last week Trump finally weighed in on the debate (“The Republicans should tap it along, make it go longer, until the next election so Obama can’t win”) and today on Squawk Box, he continued. Read more »
How Would You Like To See The Oval Office Entirely Redecorated With The Home Furnishing Offerings From Target?By Bess Levin
He’s already thrown his hat in the ring for a gig running Treasury Secretary but the people would like Bill Ackman to dream bigger. Washington Post readers polled yesterday said they want the Pershing Square founder to run as a third party candidate for President (his qualifications being the bank plan he wrote up in 2009 and the fact that he was once invited to the White House to speak with Larry Summers). Read more »
Last Thursday evening, President Obama held a fundraiser at Daniel as part of his reelection campaign. There was Vodka Beet-Cured Hamachi with Horseradish Cream. There was Zucchini Pomponette with Fontina and Tomato Confit. There was Vanilla-Raspberry Gelée. But there was no Lloyd Blankfein and there was no Jamie Dimon, and there was no Dick Parsons. Some people interpreted the lack of JD and LB and other banking chiefs as indication that Wall Street is done with Barack Obama. Sure, he still has some big names backing him (like Daniel attendees Marc Lasry, Robert Wolf and Mark Gallogly) but the absence of Lloyd and Jamie, who, ironically, Obama was once so close with that his pet name for was “zucchini pompette,” seemed to suggest a broader trend and evidence that the rumors Wall Street had “abandoned” Mr. President were true. And while some big names, like Dan Loeb and Steve Cohen, who previously backed Obama in ’08 have made no secret about dropping him (and over the weekend likely inspired others to join them), others apparently continue to support BO. They just don’t want anyone to know about it.
Behind the scenes, it seems that many bankers are not running away from the president as quickly as some might suspect. While many of the biggest name financiers feel that they can’t publicly support Mr. Obama through campaign contributions the way they did in 2008 — “it would be bad for business,” one brand-name chief executive of a major bank acknowledged — some still plan to vote for him.
Which normally would’ve stung but this time around is all well and good with the President and his team, ’cause it goes the same way. They don’t want anyone to know about Obama’s relationship with Lloyd, Jamie, et al either. They don’t even want to risk Obama being tagged in a picture with LB, for fear of the message it might send. Read more »
As previously mentioned, now that he’s officially running for office again, President Obama is hoping to have the same support from Wall Street he did in 2008. Some financial service employees have remained loyal, others have vowed to never trust him with their hearts again, and others still seem like they could potentially be won back, should Obama play his cards right. Several weeks ago he invited them over to his house to have an intimate talk about where their relationship stands and last night he took them to dinner at Daniel. True, he made them pay ($35,800 each) but perhaps the fact that he took time out to get personal and fed them braised short ribs and citrus marinated strawberries did the trick? Here’s the full dinner menu from last night- is there a particular item that would get you to give him another chance or will he have to try a lot harder than that (perhaps by making you dinner himself and feeding it to you doing the airplane sound) if he wants you to even think about letting your guard down again? Read more »
One Democratic financier invited to this month’s dinner, who asked for anonymity because he did not want to anger the White House, said it was ironic that the same president who once criticized bankers as “fat cats” would now invite them to dine at Daniel, where the six-course tasting menu runs to $195 a person. The donor declined the invitation. [NYT, earlier]
As you may have heard, President Obama will be running for office again. In 2008, he had a whole bunch of support from Wall Street, including JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon and a bunch of whole hedge fund managers. Things got slightly tense in the last few years and while some financiers vowed to never, ever trust Obama with their hearts again (not after what he did to them!), some remained loyal and others can be gotten to. Prior to announcing his reelection campaign, the President held a meeting at the White House, organized by the DNC and attended by bankers and hedge fund managers, with two goals. Goal number one: getting a few things straight and goal number two: seeing who can be counted on.
The event…kicked off an aggressive push by Mr. Obama to win back the allegiance of one of his most vital sources of campaign cash — in part by trying to convince Wall Street that his policies, far from undercutting the investor class, have helped bring banks and financial markets back to health…“The first goal was to get recognition that the administration has led the economy from an unimaginably difficult place to where we are today,” said Blair W. Effron, an investment banker closely involved in Mr. Obama’s fund-raising efforts. “Now the second goal is to turn that into support.”
A few weeks later, Obama’s campaign manager, Jim Messina, held meetings with Wall Street donors, including one held at the home of Avenue Capital founder (and Hillary turned Barack supporter) Marc Lasry. Next month, Obama will “dine with bankers, hedge fund executives and private equity investors at the Upper East Side restaurant Daniel.” Tasting menus won’t be enough to sway everyone, though, which is why the president has enlisted some wingmen to help him get the job done. Read more »