Michael Bloomberg offered journalists his financial wisdom
in a speech at the New York Financial Writers' Club dinner at the
Marriot Marquis in Times Square last month.
The information and media mogul who is running for mayor of New
York in this November's election feels that the economic slowdown
still hasn't fully hit everyone just yet. "It's surprised me that
the effect of the slowdown hasn't been worse," he said. "I think
it's a question of Wall Street looking at last time there was a
crisis back in 1998, when they sacked too many people too quickly.
This time, I think they haven't sacked enough."
If more do go it will hit the business Bloomberg started nearly 20
years ago, and from which he has recently stepped back to
concentrate on his political career. "Net sales of our screens are
down 30% this year," he said. "We have to go in and actively sell
these things now, rather than simply getting a call saying that a
bank has hired 100 more staff and needs 100 more terminals."
He had some advice for the average person on the street as well.
"Now's the time to be conservative. It's not the right time to
start a new company or even change jobs, but to put a few bucks
away in the bank."
Strangely, none of his political adversaries have seized on any of
this. These are surely comments that could easily be twisted into
Bloomberg telling banks to sack their bankers, and for the public
to save, not spend. Surely, they should be saying, Bloomberg is
talking the city into a recession.
Perhaps they had the same idea as one of the political reporters
following Bloomberg around. "You know, one of the senior political
writers for one of the New York tabloids actually asked me whether,
in the event of a deficit at City Hall, I would make up the
shortfall out of my own pocket," said Bloomberg. "I thought he was
joking, but he was dead serious."
Making politicians financially responsible for their economic
mistakes? Now there's a thought...