The Problem with Duetsche Bank

Robin’s Book Report #65
A reading list by Robin Kaiser-Schatzlein

Agenda
-new article
-letters from you
-reading list

***On the advice of my uncle, I won’t be using tracking links in my newsletters anymore. I don’t want to be tracked online, and I suppose you might not either. Rejoice!****

New Article Alert:

Last week, I wrote about Deutsche bank, a reckless institution who, in search of elusive profits, upended the geopolitical order. They lent money to rogue regimes like Syria and Iran, and funded Donald Trump when absolutely no other bank would. For me, it is a story that should make it clear how dangerous banks can be, especially when they are so favorably regulated. Banks are global actors who have as much power to manipulate the political process as any government, which is, of course, way too much power.

Letters from You

David about his recent reading habits and recommended books:
Read on his blog: https://www.dflovett.com/blog/books-read-january-2020

Reading List

How Private Equity Buried Payless

Finance-driven capitalism was supposed to make the economy more dynamic. A failed shoe chain shows why it hasn’t happened.

by Neil Irwin (The New York Times)

Good article about how a private equity firm destroyed Payless. My problem is that this type of story has been popping up in the news since, at least, the early 1990s when Susan Faludi profiled the consequences of the takeover of Safeway. (Laid-off drivers commiting suicide among other lurid impacts.) The story always is this: a private equity firm buys a company, takes out loans in the company’s name, and then pay themselves fees with the loans. Sometimes private equity restructures and makes the company profitable. Sometimes everything collapses because, of course, they were unfamiliar with the business they bought, which is the case with Payless. However, it never matter seems to matter. Why? Well, because the private equity firms get paid either way.

So as long as management and private equity firms are allowed to take out crazy loans and arrange all types of complicated financing, this story will keep recurring.

Infinite Jerk

Adrienne Miller’s memoir of her relationship with David Foster Wallace is part of an emerging genre of women coming of age via an older, powerful man.

By Laura Marsh (The New Republic)

Good essay with a great last paragraph:

One of the funniest moments in In the Land of Men comes near the end, when Miller recounts a phone call with [David Foster] Wallace. He asks her if she is familiar with Nietzsche’s concept of “eternal return”—the idea that events in history “repeat themselves infinitely.” She is, though there’s no way it could have prepared her for his next insight. “This,” he says, “is why you can never be an asshole to anyone. No one ever really goes away.” Clearly he and Miller see the world very differently. There are many reasons not to be a jerk, but Nietzsche is not one of them.”

“The Help

Gig-economy apps affect more than the economy—they’re changing what it means to be a friend.

By Susie Armitage (Slate)

What happens when you can hire all your friends?

No Going Back

The power and limits of the anti-monopolist tradition.    

By Gabriel Winant

Winant generally agrees with the conclusion that I came to when I reviewed this book for the New Republic, but he is a scholar and I learned a lot reading his review.

Choice quote:

Stoller tends to tell his story from the perspective of individual politicians, intellectuals, and millionaires—Patman, Wilson, Brandeis, Mellon, and the like. Structural forces recede, personalities grow in importance, and it becomes difficult to tell why anything is happening.

The Strange History of ‘Mad Honey’

A honey that gives you the spins––so why we aren’t stirring teaspoons of this potent gloop into our granola for a pleasant morning high?

by Emma Bryce (Modern Farmer)

An introduction to Turkey’s hallucinogenic honey.

Can Journalism Be Saved?

by Nicholas Lemann (The New York Review of Books)

While a little boring, a bit disjointed, and strangely repetitive, this is a useful overview of the recent history of journalism’s decline.

Return of the Titans: Succession and the Rebirth of Dynastic Capitalism

Family capitalism remains the dream of millions of wannabe and petty entrepreneurs. In Succession, it’s a seductive nightmare.

by Steve Fraser (Dissent)

Choice quote: “Dynastic capitalism has been and remains the dream of millions of wannabe and petty entrepreneurs. For them, family enterprise may be a way out of wage labor dependency, a form of liberation.

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