Irene, however, became an obsession for all of us with those ugly images of Katrina stuck in our memories. Twenty-four hour news coverage of the weather last weekend was a never-ending drumbeat. New York was prepared, and unlike the snow-plow mess last winter, it anticipated the worst. Natural disasters have become something of a measurement of how politicians respond to crisis, and whether they are prepared for higher office.
Since Hurricane Andrew rocked Florida in 1992, political analysts started to look at how presidents, governors, and mayors handle natural disasters. This is important, but is this the criteria for achieving higher office? Some writers questioned how New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would handle Hurricane Irene.
Even if he did handle it well, a rare occurrence is not a dependable determinant of everyday job performance. Bobby Jindal, Louisiana’s governor, did what the critics would say is a good job when the BP oil spill hit the gulf last year. Does this mean that Jindal is considered presidential timber?
Handling natural disasters is a sign of organization and leadership, but we might be making too much of how a person handles a storm, especially when we use it as a measurement for higher office. It matters, but it should not be a make-or-break test of a leader.
Christie, however, does attract an audience when he makes announcements, especially for his humor and cavalier approach to questioning. In the end, he did a good job with Irene and so did Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Two Big Stories for NYC
Last week, Warren Buffett agreed to purchase $5 billion worth of Bank of America stock. This is the single biggest move a non-government employee has made since this economy hit the skids in 2008.
Bank of America is the largest bank in the United States, and its stock is not doing well. Buffett, however, stands to gain from this through a few protections that he engineered.
He has the option to purchase another 700 million shares of Bank of America stock at the low price of $7.14 per share, and he has up to ten years to make a decision on when to exercise that option. This is why he makes money. If Bank of America stock makes its way up to $30 per share, he can purchase all of that stock for a lot less.
The myth that Buffett did this to bail out the president is nonsense. Buffett is an Obama supporter, and so are 70 million other people. There is no way he dumped $5 billion into this bank as a soft money campaign donation. The other myth around Buffett’s purchase is that he will turn around and sell the stock as soon as it moves upward. Buffett does not sell stock quickly…ever.
A bank as big as Bank of America has an effect on the New York economy, and this matters to us living in the city, where a big chunk of tax revenue comes from Wall Street.
The other big story was Steve Jobs stepping down at Apple, Inc.
Jobs walked away once before, and Apple suffered. In case you might have forgotten, you could have purchased Apple stock for less than $20 per share in the early 1990s. Then Jobs returned, and now you probably cannot buy that stock without a cool $388 for one share.
Apple is the largest publicly traded company on the market, and now its visionary is leaving. Some are saying he will stay involved, but Jobs is leaving because of serious health problems. He is being replaced by Tim Cook, who could not be more of a polar opposite as far as personality.
When Jobs left the first time, he was replaced by John Sculley. Sculley, like Cook (and most people), was a friendlier, more pragmatic person than Jobs. But Apple might need an eccentric visionary to stay on top, and they have proven that before. These two stories are very big to the entire US economy, even if most people were more concerned with Kim Kardashian’s wedding.
New York Sports Trumps the Rest of the Coast
It does not take long to realize that the New York sports scene is better than sports elsewhere. Last week, when the body of former Orioles pitcher Mike Flanagan was found dead outside his home, it was certainly the talk of sports radio on the Atlantic coast, but not for too long. Football takes precedence over everything else in the mid-Atlantic, even in July and August.
If a former Yankee or Met had died suddenly, there is no question that YES or SNY would have given it more coverage. Flanagan’s legacy was important to New Yorkers because he was part of an Orioles pitching staff that reminded Yankee fans that big hitting free agents do not win games, pitching does. Since then, the Yankees have learned that lesson, and ironically, Baltimore has forgotten it.