Tonight we’re going to see “Junk,” a new play about the 1980s junk-bond-fueled takeover game. I’ve written an essay about that for a special Lincoln Center handout. Hope the play works better onstage than it does on paper.

Nobody does this sort of thing better than Michael Lewis: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/11/usda-food-stamps-school-lunch-trump-administration


“Junk” at Lincoln Center is one of those theatrical offerings in which a flashy set, actors constantly in motion while declaiming bromides at the top of their voices, stock characters (some a clef) and general busyness are supposed to distract today’s audiences from a lack of substance or insight. “Claptrap to catch the groundlings” as ’twas said in Shakespeare’s time. Of course, today’s groundlings trade derivatives and wear $5000 suits. Still…don’t waste your money or your time. One nice note: at the conclusion of a rather tepid review of “Junk,” The Daily Beast’s critic remarks: One bright side: What Junk does inspire is a thorough treat of an edition of the Lincoln Center Theater Review, whose Fall 2017 issue, edited by Alexis Gargagliano, features an excellent selection of features themed around elements of the play by Michael Thomas, Malcolm Gladwell, Dana Gioia, and a brilliant interview, by John Guare, of an anonymous billionaire who worked with Milken.”

Here are some numbers that recently caught my eye: AMZN for the last nine months: Revenues of $43.7 billion, operating profit $347 million. Now – for the last full year – the results for Alibaba, China’s equivalent to Amazon: Revenues: $23 billion, operating profit: $6 billion! What creates those gasp-inducing differences in margins, with Alibaba bringing down 4 times the profits on 1/2 the volume? Labor costs? Markups? Other efficiencies unique to China? 

And now for people who really know how to sell out: http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/swamp-o-rama/ “I write this as a still-registered Democrat myself — though I consider myself their enemy now, yet hardly a Trump partisan. Are there any like me out there who would like to see both parties tossed onto the garbage barge of history? Of course, to say that also means throwing out a cargo of terrible ideas and beliefs, not just two clown cars of personalities. Identity politics, zero interest rate policy, American Exceptionalism, endless debt, nation-building in foreign lands, FASB-157, sanctuary cities, Title IX coercion, racketeering in health care and higher ed, market interventions, ambiguous borders… is just some of the cargo that needs to be dumped overboard with both parties.”

Sooner of later, real, true idiots trip over their feet, even if they’re in their mouths: https://abovethelaw.com/2017/11/unpacking-the-ways-trumps-nyc-tweets-violate-due-process/

I am a lifetime sports fan. I’ve rooted hard, even owned pieces of teams (LA Rams) and athletes (boxers Frank Narvaez and Pedro Agosto). I love the knowledge stuff, going back to the 1946 Baseball Guide with Cubs’ pitcher Claude Passeau on the cover. When I had a few extra nickels, they went into machines in candy and stationery stores that dispensed sepia-colored postcards of the stars of the day (like Yankees’ first basemen Nick Etten, who in 1947 signed a contract for $15,015, whereupon the immortal sportswriter Red Smith observed “The fifteen bucks is for fielding.” ) I loved this World Series, love the great characterful young players, love stories like that of Astros’ MVP George Springer (a product of Avon Old Farms prep school, which has also provided the NHL, if memory serves, with one of its top goal-tenders.) But I am sick at heart about what’s happening in football with all the injuries: these guys are simply too big, too fast, too overtrained and too “overgymed” (too much strength-training), and – ironically – almost too athleticto play this kind of a game. According to Spectator, the same thing is happening in first-class rugby. Some better answer must be found. Perhaps eliminate that day when draft prospects are subjected to higher, faster, stronger. And crazier. Back when I owned a minute fraction of the Rams, we had the best defense in the NFL – “the Fearsome Foursome”: Lamar Lundy, Roosevelt Grier, Merlin Olsen, Deacon Jones – and I doubt those guys spent 10 minutes aggregate in the weight room – and they seldom missed a down.  All this weight-training compresses and tightens muscles; eliminates “give” and flexibility. The players get bigger and faster, but their musculatire gets tighter. Fewer weights, more Pilates, more dance class. That may be the answer. 

As you ponder today’s market, ponder this: https://www.safalniveshak.com/free-brains-effortless-money/


I’m including this for no other reason than that I found it fascinating and entertaining: https://www.thenation.com/article/breaking-the-spell/

It strikes me that Robert E. Lee was, so to speak, the Confederacy’s Rommel: a noble warrior in a detestable cause. 

Good stuff here (via LitHub): https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/book-party/wp/2015/07/30/i-just-binge-read-eight-books-by-donald-trump-heres-what-i-learned/?utm_term=.d4db0dfaba99

Nicely mixed feelings about this: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/04/world/middleeast/saudi-arabia-waleed-bin-talal.html?emc=edit_na_20171104&nl=breaking-news&nlid=2476992&ref=cta

No comment needed.https://democraticautopsy.org/executive-summary/


And on and on it goes. Blister the poor! (this from Politico Real Estate): 

TAX TALKS — Republican tax plan would decimate affordable housing in New York, advocates and city officials warn, by POLITICO New York’s Sally Goldenberg: A Republican-backed proposal to repeal tax-exempt bonds would decimate affordable housing in New York, according to a group of advocates who are mobilizing to block the plan. The GOP tax reform plan, released Thursday, would cost New York $4.5 billion in financing to provide housing for low- and moderate-income tenants, the New York Housing Conference said in a release Friday afternoon. The loss totals 17,128 homes, the advocacy group said. … “The reality is that housing, not taxes, is the number one expense for American families and that is true whether you are in New York City or Des Moines, Iowa,” Eric Enderlin, president of the city’s Housing Development Corporation, said in an email. “The proposal to eliminate private activity bonds would mean the loss of funding to build thousands of affordable homes for low and middle income New Yorkers. We are confident our partners across the country, and across partisan lines, will fight tooth and nail to protect this critical resource.” 

— “With GOP Tax Proposal, Real Estate Big Shots Have Much to Examine,” by Commercial Observer’s Matt Grossman: “In a clear-cut boon to the real estate industry, the Republican plan proposes a special 25 percent tax rate on pass-through businesses, which include partnerships, S-corps and limited-liability corporations. Today, proceeds from these entities are treated as regular income on their owners’ personal taxes, potentially taxed up to the highest bracket’s rate of nearly 40 percent. Closely held real estate development companies—like President Donald Trump’s own family entities—make up one of the sectors that take advantage of these structures most prolifically.”

— Tax plan would cut affordable housing supply by 60 percent, by POLITICO’s Lorraine Woellert: “Builders, local governments and other housing advocates are rallying against a provision of the House Republican tax plan that would eliminate a key funding source for affordable rentals. The tax proposal would do away with private activity bonds, a growing source of financing for low-cost housing. The cuts would reduce the supply of new affordable rentals by more than 85,000 units a year, or more than 60 percent, according to an analysis from Novogradac and Co. Private activity bonds are issued by local or state governments and are designed to attract private capital to fund large projects. They have evolved into a common financing mechanism for housing as the supply of low-income housing tax credits — the primary source of financing — has been outpaced by the need for low-cost rentals.”

Lede from Politico Morning Media: “EVEN THE NATION’S MEDIA CAPITAL HAS A LOCAL NEWS PROBLEM”, Did anyone notice that last Friday’s NYT account of the Jets’ victory over the Bills was from The Associated Press. When the newspaper of record doesn’t assign a beat reporter to one of the two local NFL teams….

This is why knee-jerk anti-Trumpism is as pointless as knee-jerk pro-Trumpism: http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-fish-food-koi-pond-japan-prime-minister-2017-11?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_content=PoliticsSelect&pt=385758&ct=Sailthru_BI_Newsletters&mt=8&utm_campaign=BI%20Politics%20Mondays%202017-11-06&utm_term=Politics%20Select%20-%20Engaged%2C%20Active%2C%20Passive%2C%20Disengaged


Ah – my man! http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/what-could-go-wrong/

Although I’ve always found him genial enough – at least until he popped up in Trump’s pocket – I always wondered how Wilbur Ross, whom I met forty years ago when he was working at Rothschild with Sidney Gruson, could have made the amount of money attributed to him. Well, it now appears, he didn’t. Take this choice nugget from a new Forbes article and go from there: So began the mystery of Wilbur Ross’ missing $2 billion. And after one month of digging, Forbes is confident it has found the answer: That money never existed. It seems clear that Ross lied to us, the latest in an apparent sequence of fibs, exaggerations, omissions, fabrications and whoppers that have been going on with Forbes since 2004. In addition to just padding his ego, Ross’ machinations helped bolster his standing in a way that translated into business opportunities. And based on our interviews with ten former employees at Ross’ private equity firm, WL Ross & Co., who all confirmed parts of the same story line, his penchant for misleading extended to colleagues and investors, resulting in millions of dollars in fines, tens of millions refunded to backers and numerous lawsuits. Additionally, according to six U.S. senators, Ross failed to initially mention 19 suits in response to a questionnaire during his confirmation process.” Sounds to me like bye-bye Wilbur, because I doubt the Liar-in-Chief in the White House can tolerate a colleague whose prevarications add up to a sum in a league with Dickhead’s own. Here’s the link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danalexander/2017/11/07/the-case-of-wilbur-ross-phantom-2-billion/#74d320557515

No comment needed: https://medium.com/@jamesbridle/something-is-wrong-on-the-internet-c39c471271d2?_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8Pg5udSME2cyPYqoOw5rRnwz5eZARH9YFX_mbmUdMgDF2TX3SXiX-g4UkVXgKTnnaY1ZOSXX66f_XmcBVEDk-Vjf1Zkg&_hsmi=58163010

In a NYT Op-Ed today, Michelle Goldberg incorporates an observation by Hannah Arendt that deserved to be printed in boldface. It’s about – as Goldberg puts it – “the role played in undermining liberalism in pre-totalitarian societies.” Here’s Arendt: “The temporary alliance between the elite and the mob rested largely on this genuine delight with which the former watched the latter destroy respectability.”   Just think about that in the context of Dickhead’s White House antics. 

I should add that David Brooks today has what strikes me as a brilliant column on the social visions underpinning the power politics of tax reform. Here’s how he puts it: “…Republicans think the whole country would be better off if we take money away from the Democrats’ rich people and give it to their own…rich people.”  The Dems naturally want it to be the other way round.

Another arrow in the quiver of my pet subject: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/06/how-poverty-became-crime-america

Nothing more satisfying than when someone else completes a difficult and unpleasant task I’ve contemplated doing myself in the interest of research: http://www.slate.com/blogs/watching_fox/2017/11/03/the_lessons_of_watching_fox_news_for_three_weeks_non_stop.html     Here’s the Money quote: “The network flatters its viewers’ sense of moral superiority while validating all of their latent resentments, cultivating in them a constant state of righteous rage that can be easily exploited by wealthy demagogues.”

No comment neededhttps://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-11-03/there-s-one-unspeakable-fix-that-would-help-pay-for-the-gop-s-tax-cuts

Interesting: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/autumn-fall-names-season?utm_source=Atlas+Obscura+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=c9da4f18eb-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_11_07&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f36db9c480-c9da4f18eb-63378865&ct=t()&mc_cid=c9da4f18eb&mc_eid=52a8ddceb0

Everyone should see this, but if some haven’t: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/07/world/americas/mass-shootings-us-international.html?emc=edit_ne_20171107&nl=evening-briefing&nlid=2476992&te=1      These statistics should be shoved up Dickhead’s ass, assuming that the shover can differentiate between POTUS’s mouth and his butthole.

Here’s the problem. Reverse Greedheadism. People with all the wealth, advantages and influence hungrier for “More” than Oliver Twist. Now obviously I don’t think the HRHs sit around with maps of the Caribbean trying to figure out where they can get the better punch for the pound (like that, do you?), but even if it’s an HRH tuppence ha’penny that’s being parked or laundered it’s too much. https://www.icij.org/investigations/paradise-papers/prince-charles-estate-invested-offshore-paradise-papers-show/


Interesting. Dickhead tweeted right through the day yesterday. Today: nothing so far on that invaluable site: http://www.trumptwitterarchive.com/ Maybe losing, as in VA and NJ, and seeing the carapace of pathological self-regard in which he dwells pierced by reality, is all that will shut this lying idiot up. 

Time to revisit thishttps://thebaffler.com/salvos/hamilton-hustle-stoller         Here’s the money quote: “However, it should be granted one unqualified plaudit at the outset: Miranda’s play is one of the most brilliant propaganda pieces in theatrical history.” 

Plays itself: https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/homo-economicus-moral-psychology-revolution-by-ricardo-hausmann-2017-11?utm_campaign=Dealbreaker%20Opening%20Bell&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=58216279&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9USX92qeb_XN7manr0E1n-BC0gea5JCjsJ547PKPWodP0Fm0cCLWWMOAxcl3AHLJlsWmVz0XXvofY9tO_NrCdPELPPyg&_hsmi=58216279

“‘The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” – Henry VI, Part II, act IV, Scene II, Line 73. I have a feeling that were Shakespeare rewriting his play today, the line would read, “The first thing we do, let’s kill everyone in real estate!” https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/11/fight-global-wall-street-landlords.html

I can’t die soon enough! https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-08/apple-is-said-to-ramp-up-work-on-augmented-reality-headset

Here’s Dickhead’s sole TOR (Tweet of Record) for today: Nov 8, 2017 01:17:41 PM – Congratulations to all of the ”DEPLORABLES” and the millions of people who gave us a MASSIVE (304-227) Electoral College landslide victory! https://t.co/7ifv5gT7Ur”   Losing it, are we?


I must say, nothing surprises me. But isn’t TR an example of a sitting President doing some trust-busting of his own? I don’t like the AT&T-Time Warner deal myself – simply because I think there’s too much concentration in American business as it is. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/11/political-cnn-trump-hand-in-justice-department-merger-crackdown?mbid=nl_th_5a0382d54cddea6e35171f48&CNDID=42793573&spMailingID=12320376&spUserID=MTQzOTExNDk1OTIxS0&spJobID=1280790323&spReportId=MTI4MDc5MDMyMwS2

We ought to start teaching this in high schools: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/09/paradise-papers-offshore-billionaires?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+USA+-+Collections+2017&utm_term=251595&subid=23770632&CMP=GT_US_collection

https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/taibbi-a-year-after-trumps-election-nothing-has-changed-w511229Nothing like issuing high-priced convertible debt to buy back stock. https://www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2017-11-09/silver-lake

Good stuff: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/trump-s-washington-one-year-on-a-1176359-2.html  Makes the point that Dickhead, like all cowards and draft-dodgers, worships the military.

This REALLY bears thinking about. From the outset, I’ve regarded the efforts of Cuomo and De Blasio to bring AMZN HQ2 to Brooklyn as basically setting the table for the real-estate developers who’ve grossly overbuilt this borough: https://www.citylab.com/life/2017/11/how-seattle-fell-out-of-love-with-amazon/545045/ 

Taibbi: simply the best! https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/taibbi-a-year-after-trumps-election-nothing-has-changed-w511229