Screen star says it all

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Michael Bloomberg
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...