What do you do?
Peter G. Peterson was an American entrepreneur, investment banker and politician. He served as United States Secretary of Commerce during the Nixon administration and was Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations Council on Foreign Relations until his retirement in 2007. Peter co-founded the Blackstone Group, a private equity firm, in 1985 and retired in 2008 as its Senior Chairman. He authored of the book Running On Empty: How The Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do About It. Peterson was Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank Federal Reserve Bank of New York from 2000 to 2004 and is founding Chairman of the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics. He passed away in 2018.
I’ve had so many jobs in my life that you might say I’ve had a checkered career. I haven’t been able to hold onto a job very long. We set up Blackstone in 1985, and it’s a fairly diversified business that on one side of the business, there’s quite a lot of advisory work to corporations. When companies get into trouble, we do a lot of restructuring work. We manage money for people of a more or less conventional type to what we call our alternative assets management business. I guess our business . . . our biggest business is the private equity business in buyouts and real estate, where we essentially get money from investors in very large quantities. Our current fund will be over $20 billion. Our real estate fund will be, I don’t know, eight or nine. . . $10 billion. I think they’re respectively about the biggest. And we go out and buy properties that we think are undervalued. And there’s been a lot of talk in the press these days about private equity and all of the excesses that allegedly . . . In fact, I think a pretty good case could be made that private equity investments contribute importantly to the economy. Let me tell you why. When we buy a business, we don’t buy businesses that are overvalued by definition. We buy businesses that are undervalued. And why are they undervalued? Well technically they haven’t been doing as well as others in the industry have done. So in those cases, we’re very different than many public companies. A public company’s CEO today is under extraordinary short-term pressure. You’ve got the market analysts wanting quarter-by-quarter earnings guidance. And if the poor guy misses his earnings by a few pennies per share, then stock falls. And it creates a kind of a “short-termitis” disease where important decisions for the long term are often set aside in favor of the short term. Well in our business, we’re not terribly interested in the short term. We’re interested in what the businesses are going to be worth four, five, ten years ago when we’re out selling. And the only reason they’re gonna be worth a lot more today is if they’ve been fixed and they’re growing. So if you look at the typical private equity investment we make – and I suspect others are very much like that – to be sure they do some restructuring early on and reduce unnecessary costs. But the vast majority of the time we invest much more in ________ in the future, in development, in research; because what we’re interested in is doing those things that are going to make the companies five years from now go faster so they’ll be worth more than what we paid for them. So I don’t think it’s too fanciful to make the case that many private equity investors improve productivity in this country, improve countries, and provide jobs.
Recorded On: 7/26/07
Pete Peterson is the Senior Chairman of The Blackstone Group.
Swiss researchers identify new dangers of modern cocaine.
- Cocaine cut with anti-worming adulterant levamisole may cause brain damage.
- Levamisole can thin out the prefrontal cortex and affect cognitive skills.
- Government health programs should encourage testing of cocaine for purity.
Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.
The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?
Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression
In their findings the authors state:
upholding First Amendment ideals.
Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner
- Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
- Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
- Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
- Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
- Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
- Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
- Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
It's interesting to note the authors found that:
"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."
Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:
- Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
Civic discourse in the divisive age
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.
Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.