s has been previously reported, Davos attendees this week are grappling with a lot of guilt over the possibility that their rah-rah, neoliberal capitalist vision may have had something to do with skyrocketing inequality, the rise of populism, Brexit, and most worryingly, the presidency of Donald J. Trump. When they’re not attending panels for the World Economic Forum’s annual get-together in the Swiss Alps, or enjoying its notorious after-hours party scene, the world’s richest and most powerful people are doing a lot of soul-searching—including, it appears, trying to experience how the other half lives by pretending to be refugees in an elaborate game of role-play:
Most of the events center on talking. But beyond lectures and panel discussions, the agenda also features more esoteric attractions. One notable event is a simulation of a refugee’s experience, where Davos attendees crawl on their hands and knees and pretend to flee from advancing armies.
It is one of the most popular events every year.
This is amazing, and terrible, and if you have footage of it, please send it our way.
Trump’s new hire tells Davos that Trump is the new Steve Jobs
In his speech announcing his candidacy for president of the United States, Trump described Mexicans as rapists and criminals, charitably adding, “Some, I assume, are good people.” Thus was born an enchanting dynamic wherein Trump’s most vociferous supporters would regularly take to the cable-news circuit to explain why Trump’s latest inflammatory or crazy or untrue statement should be taken “seriously” but not ”literally,” or that he should be judged by “what’s in his heart” not ”what comes out of his mouth,” or that anyone taking the man “at face value” was some kind of rube. One of the most skilled practitioners of this art, second only to the great Kellyanne Conway, is SkyBridge Capital founder Anthony Scaramucci. Three days after Trump was elected, Scaramucci had these things to say about the 45th president and criticisms of him:
- “What the media is getting wrong about Mr. Trump is he’s not a classically trained politician where he grew up in the political system for 35 years and has refined his language with that precise verbal dexterity. What’s refreshing about him is he’s sort of exactly the way he’s presenting himself, with a level of authenticity and rawness that is in some ways more refreshing to people than bland, staged teleprompter nonsense.”
- “You should take him at his word when he’s talking about things like economic plans, building a wall, creating an infrastructure … But because of the entertainment style of his personality, accept he’s going to be prone to some rhetorical flourishes. But if you’re talking about policy, he has a common-sense, nonideological approach to creating relationships on behalf of the U.S.”
- “We’re going to get Mother Teresa running for government and they’re probably going to spend $10 million on oppo research against her. We’re going to learn things about her that we absolutely dislike.”
Not surprisingly, Scaramucci, a.k.a. “the Mooch,” was officially hired last week as an “assistant to President-elect Donald Trump,” wherein his main responsibilities will be convincing people that Trump is the second coming of Mother Teresa and acting as a conduit to Wall Street. And he’s already gotten down to business, landing in Davos this week to ply his craft. To the business elite and heads of state who are skeptical that a guy who speaks in one-word sentences half the time has the disposition to run the country, Scaramucci explained that it was simply a matter of the rest of the U.S. downloading Rosetta Stone: Trump Edition. “These folks are used to a buttoned-up, politically correct presentation style,” the Mooch told a group of reporters in Davos on Tuesday. “He has a very interesting communication style. The more you get to know him and spend time with him you understand his communication style.” To those worried about his late-night Twitter rants, attacking everyone from Alec Baldwin to Meryl Streep to the cast of Hamilton, the Mooch suggests everyone (1) chill and (2) ask themselves, W.W.W.C.D. (What Would Winston Churchill Do)? Per BuzzFeed:
“You guys get a little upset about the tweeting or some of the things he’s saying, but I want to say, directionally, he’s a compassionate man, he loves his children, he loves people.” Then he quoted Winston Churchill: “The best among us choose not to judge human frailty so strongly.”
And don’t worry about that trade war with China or a certain someone’s comments on NATO. And next time you want to criticize the guy, just know that he’s apparently, in some circles, considered the Steve Jobs of politics:
Speaking later to media, [Scaramucci] appealed for trust, comparing Trump’s “disruption” of politics to technology. “Steve Jobs takes a phone and turns it into a computer.”
Scaramucci also announced that he’s officially sold Skybridge, his “fund of hedge funds” business, to RON Transatlantic Advisors and HNA Capital of New York. No word on whether or not he plans to retain his stake in the Hunt and Fish Club, a Midtown eatery “where beauties trawl for sugar daddies.”
Lynn Tilton is in trouble again
Lynn Tilton is a private-equity chief who is best known for sending naughty Christmas cards to clients one year and for allegedly ripping off some investors. The Wall Street Journal has more news on the latter front:
The Zohar investment funds at the heart of Lynn Tilton’s $2.5 billion distressed-debt empire sued their founder Monday, accusing Ms. Tilton of pillaging more than $1 billion from investors and the troubled companies she manages. Through a “toxic mix of fraud, theft and mismanagement,” Ms. Tilton stole money from the Zohar funds and from the troubled companies, siphoning hundreds of millions of dollars in fees and assets from a souring loan portfolio and failing businesses, according to the lawsuit filed in federal court in New York. In a statement released through a spokesman, Ms. Tilton called the lawsuit “frivolous, baseless and vexatious,” an effort to harass her that “will be promptly dismissed.”
Sure, why not
Trump may appoint Philip Bilden, a private-equity executive with no military or government experience, to run the Navy. Per WaPo:
The appointment would be the latest sign that Trump wants wealthy businessmen rather than military, policy or political leaders to run the military service agencies. Bilden has now “moved to the front of the pack and is expected to be named as early as next week,” one transition official, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about internal deliberations, told me.
You think bonuses grow on trees?
At Deutsche Bank, where at this point it’s shocking they can still afford heat and hot water, they most certainly do not:
Deutsche Bank, the former Wall Street powerhouse, may hold back on giving out bonuses to as many as 90 percent of bankers and traders, The Post has learned. Only the top 10 percent of revenue generators may get a bonus for 2016—and even then it will be paid out over the next five years, according to a source briefed on internal discussions. The bonus plans are still in discussion, another source cautioned, and could still change in the coming weeks.
Xi Jinping doesn’t have time for Trump’s amateur-hour bull crap
Xi established himself [on Monday at Davos] as an unlikely defender of the trade-based global order that Trump and others have dismissed on the way to electoral victories. He addressed a crowd full of business leaders and politicians, but his message was squarely aimed at one person: Trump, who on the campaign trail excoriated China’s trade policies and threatened to slap a tariff as high as 45% on Chinese imports. “No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war,” he said, drawing applause from the crowd.
G.M. tries to get on Trump’s good side
. . . without uttering Trump’s name, because he’s basically Voldemort.
General Motors said on Tuesday that it would invest $1 billion in its American factories tied to 1,500 jobs, becoming the latest automaker to respond to President-elect Donald J. Trump’s call to bolster manufacturing in the United States.
On Tuesday, G.M.’s chief executive, Mary T. Barra, did not mention Mr. Trump in her comments on the moves, but she echoed the president-elect’s repeated statements that American companies should focus on growing jobs at home rather than abroad.
People are betting on gold because of . . . you know who and you know what
Bullion has risen every day except one in 2017, evidence that investors are pricing in a rocky year ahead. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed Tuesday that she’ll leave the European Union’s single market while seeking a new arrangement on the customs union. Donald Trump is just three days away from being sworn in as the next U.S. president.
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