Thursday, August 27, 2020

No Matter the Cost: Get Trump!

Jeff Blau is CEO of The Related Companies. They rent apartments in New York City. One suspects that they are not in a very upbeat mood these days, what with the proliferation of empty apartments.

So, Blau has written an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal explaining that he wants people to go back to their offices. Empty offices must be code for empty apartments, but surely he has a point. Empty offices are a bad sign for the future survival of New York City.

Tellingly Blau does not seem to be willing to place blame where it belongs. That is, with New York’s astonishingly inept mayor Bill de Blasio. One suspects that he cannot compromise his dealings with the de Blasio administration. But clearly, the fault for New York’s imminent collapse lies with incompetent politicians, especially Bill de Blasio. And let’s not forget the pathetic idiot who is school chancellor, Richard Carranza.

Keeping schools more or less closed will make it impossible for large numbers of people to go back to their offices. And let’s not forget that people who leave their homes might well be subject to abuse from the thousands of homeless people, drug addicts and criminals that de Blasio has released onto New York’s streets.

Blau opens thusly:

New York has gone from the epicenter of the pandemic to the model for a responsible reopening in two short months. The parks seem full, the streets have more life, but it’s an illusion.

The reality is: New York’s offices remain empty.

We can’t recover until people actually return to New York. That won’t happen until the people who work in our offices come back. New York, like all cities, is an economic ecosystem that requires the common commitment of everyone to thrive. Office workers support retail, restaurants, cab drivers, street vendors and countless others. The tightly woven fabric of our urban economy is in danger of fraying beyond repair. The Partnership for New York City estimates that more than a third of small neighborhood businesses might close permanently. The New York Fed has reported on the disproportionate effect the pandemic is having on black-owned businesses. The damage is compounding and the situation will only grow worse unless we change course.

For the record, New York State led the nation in coronavirus deaths. About that, Blau has nothing to say. He has nothing to say about the simple fact that restaurants are all closed, with the small exception of outdoor dining. The industry employs 300,000 people. 1,000 of 25,000 restaurants have already closed. The de Blasio response: the mayor does not know when he will allow them to open. In the rest of New York State, restaurants allow indoor dining. 

And, by the way, in New York State gyms are now allowed to open. Such is not the case in New York City. The more suffering the better.

Why has Comrade de Blasio declared open warfare on New York City? Why is he trying to destroy the city? Could it have something to do with politics? Could it be that he wants to damage the national economy, the better to pin it on Donald Trump. After all, the states that led the nation in coronavirus deaths were all led by Democrats. Left leaning politicians are now spinning as fast as they can, the better to blame their high death rates on Trump.

Blau lights on the simple fact that the New York area is responsible for 9% of the nation’s GDP. How better to sabotage the Trump economic record than shutting down New York City. Of course, it sounds cynical, but de Blasio is a pathetic ideological zealot, so….

He writes:

While none of this is easy for anyone, the value of returning to work in the office is undeniable. The New York area is the economic engine of the nation, representing almost 9% of U.S. gross domestic product. As New York goes, so goes the country.

The entire essence of this city we all love is at stake. This isn’t about writing a love letter—anyone who lives, works or visits New York knows what it offers. As John Updike said, “people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding.” The city has an energy that can’t be found anywhere else. The greatest cultural institutions in the world are here.

That’s not New York braggadocio, it is simply a fact.

As for the city’s energy, it has been draining out for quite some time now. You recall that James Altucher wrote a long article on Linked In, explaining that New York is over and that it will not come back… at least, not in the near future.

To that Jerry Seinfeld, a wealthy retired comedian, wrote a barely literate screed announcing, based on nothing resembling reasoning, that he could not accept the fact.

For writing another, shorter column in The New York Post, Altucher has received a blizzard of death threats. If you want to know what is wrong with New York, therein you see it. Death threats….,

Altucher remarks, as the CEO of the Related Companies surely knows, that 13,117 apartments are currently vacant. 25% of city residents have not paid rent since March.

He adds that the city is basically bankrupt. Its budget deficit is around $9 billion, and this does not factor in the revenue lost as the tax base has decamped for warmer and friendlier climes.

As for small businesses, Altucher has some additional and less optimistic numbers:

Thousands of restaurants have shuttered their doors permanently. Yelp has said up to 50 ­percent of the restaurants it tracks are out of business. A study by Partnership for New York City found that up to one-third of Gotham’s 240,000 small businesses may never reopen.

What does this mean? It means more revenue declines and even higher deficits. It means the choking death of the tourism industry. It means eerily empty office buildings.

Somehow or other Jeff Blau missed the point: closing down restaurants indefinitely will impact office towers.

And, given the city’s budget deficit, city employees will be laid off:

We are just beginning to see the beginning. The beginning! A city spokesperson said that up to 22,000 layoff notices will go out Aug. 31. These layoffs will hit emergency workers (who risked their lives at the height of the pandemic), garbage collectors, teachers and policemen. That last group’s loss will be ­especially tragic, given the 130 percent increase in shootings this year.

And then, the layoffs will destroy small businesses:

It’s working-class people who will bear the brunt: the dry cleaners, the deli-sandwich virtuosos, the retail workers. Seinfeld and others imagine that “grit” and “resilience” are all it takes. Magical thinking is such a wonderful thing.

What do you want to bet that these people all voted for de Blasio and that they will all vote for Biden. After all, it’s about discrediting Trump. It doesn’t matter how many people you have to destroy. What matters is: Get Trump.

Assuming that there is no massive federal bailout of the blue cities and the blue states, Altucher sees a bleak future:

Otherwise, New York’s (and other large cities’) opportunities will disperse throughout the rest of the country. If urban areas stay on their current trajectory, young people will find other places to flourish without having to move to cities. Gotham would lose its greatest engine of prosperity and dynamism: people.

The city we love needs help. I don’t care that Seinfeld insults me in another paper. Hey, for all the grimness of the moment, at least I inspired a once-great ­comedian to finally write some new jokes. By the way, my local business, StandupNY, is doing 50 free shows in Central Park this week. You’re welcome to perform, Jerry, but I don’t think you’re in town.


Giordano Bruno said...

I love it when leftists turn on one another and attack. We need more of that.

Blau is a rent-seeking crybaby. The man went all in and lost; he's now sitting on a pile of toxic real estate, poor dear. Do what all the other players do when they lose their asses in capital investments: get a federal bailout. But if you show up in my cigar joint in Dixie, crying your New York blues, you'll get a trigger-step left straight in the puss. That 9% GDP is two things: 1. improbably inflated in real economic activity and 2. easily relocated.

NYC hasn't been of cultural interest for years, unless you consider the old European rooms at the Metropolitan, when the French and English and Dutch still vied for empire. I could spend an afternoon in the Japanese wing and absorb more value culturally than I could by attending every current event in town on a given weekend. Only the philistines and millennials are fooled into thinking the cultural scene in NY has much value. It was dead when Clem Greenberg tried to sell Jackson Pollack to an ever-credulous public.

With the demise of New York, high culture might just be saved. The creative impulse will find it's way back to the countryside, and away from the nihilism of post-post-post-modern Gotham. Maybe the sublimation of ugliness will finally come to an end as beauty reasserts her magic.

As for the MET? Those frauds. They can drop dead. I stand with Placido!

Whatever is bad for New York is good for America. Whatever is bad for Jeffrey Blau is good for America.

urbane legend said...

Let's see, Mr. Blau.
While none of this is easy for anyone, the value of returning to work in the office is undeniable.
You have the mayor's number, don't you? Have you told him?

The New York area is the economic engine of the nation, representing almost 9% of U.S. gross domestic product. As New York goes, so goes the country.
What a rich fantasy life you NYC folks lead! Admittedly, I have not dug deeply into this. According to Statista, Florida GDP 1st quarter was 947.41, billions; fourth in the nation, right behind . . . New York state, 1,436.7. And without a NYC.

Let's look at another measure of leadership. New York corona virus, 430,774 cases, 32,918 deaths, 7.6%. Florida: 605,502 cases, 10,580 deaths, 1.7%, again from

If NYC has so much energy, Mr. Blau, why is it dying? Nobody can find a way to direct that energy, can they? Maybe because direction/leadership is a skill beyond anyone in NYC.

Give it up. Mr. Blau. Move to Florida or Texas.

Link may not work; that's not what I do best.

David Foster said...

"Blau lights on the simple fact that the New York area is responsible for 9% of the nation’s GDP."

What does this actually mean, even in normal circumstances? Most economically-important businesses are national or much confidence can we have in the way in which a company's financial results are applied, for GDP-calculating purposes, across factories and sales offices in multiple states?

And,of course, a company moving part or all of its operations out of NYC does not mean that those operations cease to exist.

Sam L. said...

"Assuming that there is no massive federal bailout of the blue cities and the blue states, Altucher sees a bleak future:" I'd say "that's a given". Governors are going to have to help their citizens. And as I've said, if your mayor and governor are Democrats, YOU are a two-time loser.

trigger warning said...

Sooooo... let me be sure I get this straight.

New York is a model for reopening, and the offices are empty.

That is an exemplar of Loon Logic™, my friends. :-D

JPL17 said...

"And,of course, a company moving part or all of its operations out of NYC does not mean that those operations cease to exist."

- - - David Foster

Bingo! Indeed, many of those NYC-based operations are in full swing, but with their employees now working out of their homes, apartments and second homes in Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maine, New Hampshire, Florida or other parts of the country or New York state -- where they're still contributing to the nation's GDP, but not supporting NYC merchants and restaurants, and not contributing a dime in NYC income tax (and for those of us outside NY State, not one dime in NY state income tax either).

So the country and the other regions I mentioned? We're pretty fine (or at least recovering). NYC and New York state? Not so fine. But as long as they refuse to tar + feather their mayor and governor -- who both richly deserve it -- they'll continue down the death spiral.

Walt said...

You forgot to mention that DeBlasio, as quoted in tne NY Post, said he didn't give a damn about the restaurants. Because, after all, he said (to paraphrase only slightly) they 're unnecessary bourgeois hangouts for the Haves. In similar disdain for the middle class, and a desire to punish them for BEING middle class, he dumped homeless addicts and mental cases on the residential streets of the upper West Side. But then some of the (dis)credit goes to Cuomo for the no-bail scheme and the mass release of otherwise imprisoned felons.

Sam L. said...

Should I start up a restaurant named Vermicelli so that deBlasio could eat my worms?

Nah; too much paperwork.