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Bloomberg Redux

I hope Michael Bloomberg enters the presidential race.  Independents rarely do well, but he would bring to a so far sordid election season a much-needed infusion of intelligence.

He is a very bright man and his political record as a three-term mayor of New York City would stand up to any kind of scrutiny.  He did not have to ‘save’ the city, as some mayors have had to, or at least claimed to, because he inherited a legacy of competence from his predecessor Rudolf Giuliani, who was by general consent one of the city’s best mayors.  I don’t remember him putting a foot wrong.

Given the likely alternatives, I would consider voting for Bloomberg.  The alternatives will be known soon, and the prospects are not reassuring. For reasons known only to party leaders the Republicans seem more inclined to lose this election, to allow the eventual appearance of a real candidate, as opposed to the buffoons and no-hopers who have featured in the present campaign for the nomination.  Meanwhile, the Democrats, for reasons known only to their party leaders, seem reluctant, or at any rate hesitant, to stage-manage a Clinton coronation.  Their lack of enthusiasm is palpable, except among feminists anxious to get the first woman into the White House.  Hillary, it must be said, has hardly electrified the campaign.  That should surprise no one: she should have walked away with the last one she fought but contrived to bottle it and cede the nomination, and the presidency, to Obama.

The respective nominations this year may well go to Trump and Sanders, a state of affairs that no respectable pundit could have foreseen twelve months ago – including, I should add, this one.   But American voters, more so than their British counterparts, are so disillusioned with establishment figures, and so determined to inflict punishment for their collective inadequacies, that right now they would vote for just about anyone other than someone from the Beltway.  Trump is an unlovable clown and Sanders is in his eighth decade.  No matter, they are outsiders, and the outsider is flavour of the year, almost regardless of the ingredients.

I doubt that Bloomberg can make the White House, assuming he even  gets as far as running.  That is a pity, because not only is he an effective manager, but also I would like to be able to say, come November, that I have known a president of the United States.

I don’t know him well.  A couple of lunches in the Eighties were the extent of our acquaintance.  He was then running his eponymous financial information service at the time and I was working for a competitor.  I can’t remember now what we discussed.  I think I was probably hoping for a job offer – which obviously was not forthcoming.

Actually, I had met him years before those lunches – as far back as the 1960s.  He was then the deputy head of the equities department at Salomon Brothers, a leading investment firm, and I was a financial journalist with Reuters.  I had gone to see him in Salomon’s trading room, the biggest of its kind then and widely known simply as The Room. I had a favour to ask.  Would he call Reuters every time Salomon Brothers transacted a large block of shares.  We would put this information on our wire service (then transmitted by teleprinter).  Our readers were interested and it would give Salomon a little shot of free publicity (block trading then being a highly competitive activity on Wall Street).  He readily acceded – as, to be fair, did many of the other trading houses – and he would often call in himself, just as I would often be the one on the other end of the telephone.

Imagine: Trump versus Bloomberg – the battle of the billionaires.  Some outsiders, eh!

Mike, give me another call if you think I can help your campaign in London.


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