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Gender: Male
Hometown: NY
Member since: Mon Dec 29, 2003, 11:41 PM
Number of posts: 36,530

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Sviatoslav Richter - Grieg Piano Concerto, 3rd Movement

This is just a snippet, complete with an interruption that you Norwegian (I think) speakers will understand. An odd clip, but it’s rare footage of Richter playing with utmost intensity at Bergen in 1968. He was one of the greats, and, for many, the best ever.
Posted by BeyondGeography | Thu Jan 9, 2020, 12:39 AM (3 replies)

Spartanburg SC Mayor Junie White endorses Sen. Warren

Spartanburg Mayor Junie White has endorsed Sen. Elizabeth Warren to be the Democratic Party's presidential nominee.

Although polls show former Vice President Joe Biden with a more-than 2-1 lead over the second and third highest favorites Warren and Bernie Sanders in South Carolina, the Democratic mayor said Sunday he believes Warren has the best chance at defeating Republican President Donald Trump in November.

"I just think she is the right candidate," White said. "She's a very independent woman, very smart woman. I like her ideas. (Trump) is going to be hard to beat, but she has a very good chance."

The South Carolina Democratic primary will be Saturday, Feb. 29. It is the fourth nominating contest in the Democratic presidential primaries...

Posted by BeyondGeography | Mon Jan 6, 2020, 02:35 PM (7 replies)

Democrat Elizabeth Warren plans Flatbush rally with Julian Castro

FLATBUSH — Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren plans to bask in a recent big-ticket endorsement at a Brooklyn rally on Tuesday. She'll appear onstage at the Kings Theater alongside former primary rival Julián Castro.

When the doors open for the event at 5 p.m., spectators will not only see Warren — a leading candidate in a crowded, if narrowing, Democratic primary — but also one of Castro's first public appearances since he dropped out of the presidential race last week.

Castro, a former Obama administration housing chief and mayor of San Antonio, endorsed Warren in an online video posted Monday. He issued a statement which called Warren, a U.S. senator for Massachusetts, "the most qualified, best-equipped candidate to win the nomination" and defeat President Donald Trump, a Republican.

Warren's and Castro's joint appearance will briefly bring the up-for-grabs Democratic race to a grand stage in Brooklyn. The Kings Theater at 1027 Flatbush Avenue is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The event will begin at 7 p.m. More information can be found at Warren's website.

Posted by BeyondGeography | Mon Jan 6, 2020, 01:30 PM (4 replies)

WaPo: What it's like organizing for Warren in one of Iowa's most rural counties

Lengthy feature and a great read:

EAST AMANA, Iowa — Anna Navin stepped out of her Honda, grabbed a large pink backpack from the passenger seat of her car and knocked on the door of Glenn Goetz, a 68-year-old retiree. Navin, a 28-year-old organizer for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was meeting with Goetz to see if he would take on more duties as a precinct captain, including knocking on doors in other nearby communities and helping recruit volunteers.

... Many Democratic presidential candidates, such as former vice president Joe Biden, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), have robust organizations. But among locals, Warren’s organization stands out...The stories about Warren staffers in Iowa and how far they go to sell her candidacy regularly circulate among rival campaigns, eliciting both eye rolls but also grudging admiration. “It’s like, where did they find these kids?” marveled a longtime Iowa Democratic activist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she endorsed another candidate in the race.

...Since June, Navin has put more than 12,000 miles on her car on behalf of Warren. She’s met the politician just a handful of times, mostly in passing. But on a Saturday morning in September, Navin was out knocking on doors in Williamsburg when her cellphone rang. The call was from a blocked number. Taking a deep breath, she answered.“Happy birthday!” Warren called out.

Navin froze on the street. Clutching the phone, she listened as Warren thanked her for her work. But the candidate also wanted to talk business. She had just released a new Social Security plan. “She just started giving me talking points … my plan is going to do this, this, this and this. And I was like cool, cool, cool, thanks for the talking points because I’m actually knocking doors right now,” Navin recalled...


Posted by BeyondGeography | Sat Jan 4, 2020, 03:07 PM (1 replies)

Charles Pierce: This is the best speech I've ever seen EW give

Watch when you can. EW really gave us a great close to 2019 today. She is clearly ready to roll.

Happy New Year to my fellow Warren supporters.
Posted by BeyondGeography | Tue Dec 31, 2019, 03:54 PM (4 replies)

Khatchaturian Violin Concerto in D Minor - Oistrakh

Posted by BeyondGeography | Tue Dec 31, 2019, 01:11 PM (0 replies)

Private equity ran amok in the 2010s

The decade exposed an industry that cared about lining its own pockets, often at the expense of the companies it bought.
By Joe Nocera

...Financially speaking, the 2010s have been characterized by corporate mergers, aggressive activist investors, out-of-control CEO pay and “maximizing shareholder value.” But more than anything, it has been a decade awash in private equity deals. I therefore dub it the private equity decade...What was different in the 2010s was less the size of the deals as their proliferation. In 2009, private equity firms completed 1,927 deals worth $142 billion, according to the financial data firm Pitchbook. By 2018, there were 5,180 private equity deals worth $727 billion.

Why so many deals? One reason is more firms are holding more capital than they know what to do with; Bain & Co. recently estimated that private equity firms have a staggering $2 trillion in “dry powder” that they need to deploy. But another reason is that there just aren’t as many big deals available as there used to be, so firms have had to move down the food chain to find companies willing to be bought out. Many, if not most, of the deals in the past few years have been for less than $500 million. I half expect the bodega down the street to be bought out.

What has also become clear this decade is the high-minded rationale the private equity industry once used to justify its deals has largely evaporated. You don’t hear much anymore about how taking a company private will remove short-term incentives, impose necessary restructuring, yadda, yadda, yadda. The main thing private equity has done this decade is to pile debt onto companies — imposing repayment costs while pulling out fees and dividends that have no bearing on what the private equity firm has actually done...One private equity skeptic, Daniel Rasmussen, conducted a study to see the effect private equity firms had on the companies they bought. Using a database of 390 deals with more than $700 billion in enterprise value, he found that:

In 54 percent of the transactions we examined, revenue growth slowed. In 45 percent, margins contracted. And in 55 percent, capex spending as a percentage of sales declined. Most private equity firms are cutting long-term investments, not increasing them, resulting in slower growth, not faster growth.

... It seems to me that there are two likely consequences for the devolution of private equity in this decade. The first is that when the business cycle finally turns, the consequences for the thousands of companies carrying private equity debt are likely to be severe. As increasing amounts of capital have chased deals this decade, purchase prices have increased drastically. Rasmussen reports that in 2013, private equity deals were done at an average of 8.9 times adjusted earnings. Today, that number has risen to 11 times adjusted earnings. That means the debt loads are becoming heavier...

Posted by BeyondGeography | Tue Dec 31, 2019, 12:15 AM (3 replies)

Krugman: The deficit obsession of 2010-2015 did permanent damage.

The Legacy of Destructive Austerity

A decade ago, the world was living in the aftermath of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. Financial markets had stabilized, but the real economy was still in terrible shape, with around 40 million European and North American workers unemployed. Fortunately, economists had learned a lot from the experience of the Great Depression. In particular, they knew that fiscal austerity — slashing government spending in an attempt to balance the budget — is a really bad idea in a depressed economy. Unfortunately, policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic spent the first half of the 2010s doing exactly what both theory and history told them not to do...

Why is austerity in a depressed economy a bad idea? Because an economy is not like a household, whose income and spending are separate things. In the economy as a whole, my spending is your income and your spending is my income. What happens if everyone tries to cut spending at the same time, as was the case in the aftermath of the financial crisis? Everyone’s income falls. So to avoid a depression you need to have someone — namely, the government — maintain or, better yet, increase spending while everyone else is cutting. And in 2009 most governments engaged in at least a bit of fiscal stimulus. In 2010, however, policy discourse was taken over by people insisting, on one side, that we needed to cut deficits immediately or we would all turn into Greece and, on the other side, that spending cuts wouldn’t hurt the economy because they would increase confidence.

...There are multiple explanations for the populist rage that has put democracy at risk across the Western world, but the side effects of austerity rank high on the list. In Eastern Europe, white nationalist parties came to power after center-left governments alienated the working class by letting themselves be talked or bullied into austerity policies. In Britain, support for right-wing extremists is strongest in regions hit hardest by fiscal austerity. And would we have Trump if years of wrongheaded austerity hadn’t delayed economic recovery under Barack Obama?

Beyond that, I’d argue that austerity mania fatally damaged elite credibility. If ordinary working families no longer believe that traditional elites know what they’re doing or care about people like them, well, what happened during the austerity years suggests that they’re right. True, it’s delusional to imagine that people like Trump will serve their interests better, but it’s a lot harder to denounce a scam artist when you yourself spent years promoting destructive policies simply because they sounded serious.

In short, we’re in the mess we’re in largely because of the wrong turn policy took a decade ago.

Posted by BeyondGeography | Mon Dec 30, 2019, 09:31 PM (4 replies)

Wealth Tax, Anyone?: The World's 500 Richest People Increased Their Wealth by $1.2 Trillion in 2019

The world’s richest people had a good year in 2019, increasing their wealth by a staggering 25 percent. A new analysis of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index found that the 500 richest people on the planet increased their vast wealth by $1.2 trillion in the past year, bringing their total wealth to $5.9 trillion.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos remains the richest person in the world, even in a year that saw him lose around $8 billion due to his divorce from ex-wife McKenzie. She is now 25th on the Bloomberg index, with $37.5 billion.

Among the top gainers of the year were Mark Zuckerberg, whose wealth jumped by $27.3 billion, and Bill Gates, who is $22.7 billion richer than he was at the start of the year. French magnate Bernard Arnault, the third richest person in the world, saw his wealth increase by $36.5 billion in 2019.

One billionaire not on the list is Michael Bloomberg, who owns the website that published it. According to Forbes, Bloomberg’s net worth is around $53.4 billion, which would rank him 19th on the list. But Bloomberg News does not cover Bloomberg LP, so the boss is not on the list.

Incidentally, Elizabeth Warren, one of the leading proponents of soaking the rich in the Democratic race for the presidency, released a new explainer of her wealth tax this week. What timing.


Posted by BeyondGeography | Fri Dec 27, 2019, 03:27 PM (1 replies)

The Decade the World Went Backwards

Why Were the 2010s Such a Troubled Decade? Because the Global Economy Began to Fail Catastrophically — Just Like During the 1930s

... The 2010s were the decade that savegly regressive movements erupted around the globe — and rocketed to power in the most improbable places. Not just in war-torn poor states, or in failed and broken ones, which had never become wealthy democracies at all — but in the world’s richest and most powerful countries. A wave of hysterical, bellowing, fist-pumping hard-right fanaticism swept the globe — shattering the status quo. Of a centrism defined by American neoliberal ideals. This decade was the end of an age — and the beginning of another one. But the end of what — and the beginning of what?

...The world was going backwards. To when? To the 1930s, of course. The last time that capitalism blew a hole in the heart of the global economy, and created a wave of depressions. Only this time, many of the depressions were invisible ones. 50% of Americans struggled to pay the bills? 50% of Americans who got cancer would go bankrupt in a year or two? British living standards hadn’t risen in two decades? Good! Only the strong should survive! The weak deserve to perish. Let them. The logic — the illogic — the brutality, contempt, heartlessness, greed, and selfishness of capital had come to permeate the world’s thinking classes, too. Largely, most of the world’s intellectuals saw these invisible depressions as good things. And that was the final nail in the coffin. Wham! Revolution

Only — ironically, incredibly, stupidly, perfectly — it wasn’t the forward-moving revolution of Marx’s dreams, of Engel’s hopes, of Keynes’s quiet thoughts. It was the opposite of the global revolution of progress. It was a global revolution of regress. People had chosen to blame their problems on…hated others…but everyone was someone else’s hated other, too. Just as Brits blamed Europeans, who blamed Muslims, who blamed Americans, who blamed Mexicans. LOL — a global food chain of hate had arisen, in a colossal act of stupidity, hubris, and blindness. And yet nobody saw the irony. If everybody was blaming somebody else…who was also blaming somebody…how could anybody at all be the problem?

Nobody was the problem. The system was the problem. Capitalism was failing catastrophically and spectacularly as a global economy — unable to deliver higher living standards for something like 90% of the globe by now. In just the way greater minds had predicted it did and would cyclically, like Marx and Keynes. Never mind. Nobody remembered them. There were animals and vermin to hate, after all.

So the working class had its backwards revolution. Not towards progress, but towards regress. Hating others, of course, only costs a society things like expansive healthcare, retirement, education, transport, childcare, elderly care — because those are things had through unity and concern. But they are the very things the working class needs the most, to prosper. It’s in that sense these were regressive revolutions: they hurt the people who were part of them the most. It was the Trumpist and Brexiter who lost their jobs, whose life expectancy fell fastest, whose community was never rebuilt. Never mind — at least they had someone to hate. And what a delicious thrill that was. How it gave them the sense of worth and goodness they had been missing for too long.

The world had chosen a new destiny. Not forwards, but backwards. It had turn away from progress itself. It had rejected the idea of more for all, more rights, more public goods — for example, an education, income, or retirement for every life on planet earth. People increasingly didn’t want those things for everyone in their own societies — so how could the planet make progress towards a higher standard of living?

More at https://link.medium.com/BdKWqojaL2
Posted by BeyondGeography | Fri Dec 27, 2019, 07:22 AM (15 replies)
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