Thursday, December 12, 2002

A Great Letter

Following is a copy of a letter written by Michael Thomas to The New York Times regarding the latest outrage from Bear Stearns:

The Editor
The New York Times
229 West 43rd St.
New York, NY 10036


While I defer to no one in my enthusiasm for tradition, it is disturbing to see the firm of Bear Stearns & Co. acting so in character by demanding, under the threat of relocating 1000+ jobs from the city to New Jersey, a $40 million subsidy at a time when New York is in financial crisis.

As this firm’s action makes perfectly clear, the only thing Wall Street understands, or values, is money. QED: the only way to deal with blackmail is with a healthy return dose of the same.

Bear Stearns, and any other firm undertaking this ploy (and you can be sure, if one gets away with it, others will follow,) should be put on notice that that such a course of action will be grounds for a permanent or term disqualification from doing business with the city and the state. No pension fund business, no advisory business, no state and city agency underwriting or brokering, no commission business, no clearing business on city/state-related accounts – and so on. The nimble minds at Bear Stearns are capable of weighing the discounted present value of the loss of city and state business for, say, 10 years against the $40 million “or else” subsidy the firm is seeking.

Ancillary measures might also be considered. A single traffic officer stationed outside Bear Stearns’ fancy East Side headquarters with the sole mission of ticketing limousines for moving and standing violations could represent a potential for single employee-productivity that will have our Mayor’s eyes spinning with delight! A word might also be had with Bear Stearns’ banks of fiduciary account and clearance.

This city is in a state of emergency. I grew up during a comparable if less physically immediate crisis, namely World War II, when about the worst crime, patriotically and every other which way, was what was called “war profiteering.” This is what Bear Stearns is up to. They should not be allowed to get away with it, not as long as the city and state have the means to squeeze back: hard.

With every best wish,

Michael M. Thomas

UPDATE: A reader emails with the following: "FYI: In case you didn't know, the NYT company made a similar demand from City Hall and got financial incentives to keep its headquarters in NYC and not move them to NJ a few years ago. "