New York City: Nostalgia to Modern Economic Realities

Tue, Mar 17, 2015 - 2:06pm

It just so happens that the Fox Hole California Lawyer climbed out of had more surprises. Turd asked me to provide an update on some of the economic/political realities that New York City faces at this time. But if you haven't already, please go and read California Lawyers wonderful entry before you dig in here. But the first order of business. From New York City it's:

A once great city still enjoys a very vibrate Irish community that has a rich history back to mid-1800's when a wave Irish Immigrants descended upon America leaving political and financial repression as well as a great famine behind to make a better life for themselves in the New World. By 1855, 43% of New York Cities population was Irish. For those students of alternative/suppressed history, there is a plethora of evidence including maps, boats worthy of transatlantic travel that the Celtics were already living here long before Columbus. New translations of Native American texts go into quite a bit of detail about the relationship between them.

The Pubs are already filled to the brim with green faces celebrating their heritage. I might have to wait until evening before I can enjoy a tasty one without having to take a nap.

Now back to business with a look at the Economic status of our countries economic capital. So Step into my time machine. For this brief exercise, we need to travel further back in time to understand how the past has influenced current conditions. as we take a trip back to New York City, Circa 1974. 

Lets set the stage with the cultural setting: A very important part of NYC. Else why live here at all?

October 13, 1974, Madison Square Garden, at one time the busiest arena in the world. The Main Event-Old Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra. The sound of the Orchestra, and the inimitable voice of Howard Cosell reciting the following:

Live From New York. The Cities whose landmarks are familiar all over the world. The World Center for Shipping, Transportation, Communication, Finance, Fashion and above all, Entertainment. A city that pulsates, always because of the millions of people, who live here, work here, visit here.

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Now Frank Sinatra was already 4 decades into his career just as Billy Joel is his but as circumstances would have it, Billy Joel is currently playing Madison Square Garden every month in perpetuity until nobody buys tickets. Like a man once told me at the corner of 125th Street and Lenox Avenue “Every Man Needs a Hustle”

Whether New York City can still claim those titles of world center for so many industries is a topic for another time other to say that the honor of the World Financial Center is slowly slipping away. Despite the pomp and circumstance of the evening, the reality outside of Madison Square Garden was much more grave as the Big Apple was on the brink of financial disaster. The nation was in a deep recession, unemployment rose to 7.5% and the country was rationing gas with long lines at the pump. The bear market between 1973 and 1974 was one of the worst bear markets in modern history. Gold peaked at $195.25 an ounce on December 30, 1974 making new highs along the way.

A NYC studio apartment rented for an average of $170 per month. The top concerns of New Yorkers in 1974, were crime, drugs, cost of living, transportation and housing. Vandalism covered the subway cars of an aging system making one think that a ride was a life risking proposition. 

The city was still in it’s honeymoon phase with it’s tallest building in the world, the 110 floor World Trade Center, which opened up in April 1973. of course, that view no longer exists.

Central Park, the first landscaped public park in America was now experiencing it’s third cycle of deterioration in it’s history. Massive layoffs, budget cuts, created a park with vandalism, piles of garbage, and a reputation for crime. Only 14 blocks to the south at 42nd Street, the historic Bryant Park adjacent to the NY Public Library was given up for wilderness filled with given drug dealers, prostitutes and homeless. 

The cross roads of the world, Times Square, once an entertainment Mecca for family with theaters and freak shows was now back to back XXX establishments.

All the props were on stage as New York City was on the brink of fiscal disaster. By midday that Friday, Oct. 17, 1975, NY’s Mayor Beame, had signed a formal petition attesting to municipal default. The police commandeered squad cars, poised to serve legal papers on banks that were the city’s leading creditors. A court order was pending to preserve the city government’s assets, including cash and durable goods, like garbage trucks. The City of New York had insufficient cash on hand to meet debt obligations due today. NYC was about to declare bankruptcy.

Mayor Beame and New York’s Governor Hugh Carey immediately visited President Gerald Ford to request a bail out for the City of New York. Shortly after, one of the most iconic headlines in history covered the Daily News “Ford to City: Drop Dead Vows He’ll Veto Any Bail-Out” 

Without the aide of Federal bailout money, NYC had to pull itself up from bankruptcy. It turned to Wall Street and to a man named Felix Rohatyn, known for his time as a partner at Lazard Freres and his stint as US Ambassador to France. The City demonstrated it could not handle it’s own financial affairs and the financial reigns were turned over to the state to pay it’s bills.

Wage freezes, transportation fare hikes, layoffs, increased taxes were the order of the day. Central Park and Bryant Park formed Conservancy’s which were private management groups, filled a Board a Directors from NY’s most preeminent corporations for funding along with wealthy benefactors, and private citizens. The city essentially acknowledged that it could no longer maintain it’s own infrastructure. This is how these great parks are maintained to this day.

Since it’s early history back to 1789 when NYC was America’s first capital, it experienced periods of boom and bust. Cycles of prosperity and poverty are as certain as high tide and morning sunrises. 40% of all Americans can trace their arrival to the United States back to NYC and Ellis Island. Thus, NY experienced rapid growth as an influx of immigrants arrived however, these periods of growth and expansion were followed by periods of contraction. Most notably the Great Depression which brought rising crime and poverty rates . The 1980s saw a rebirth of Wall Street and the city reclaimed its role at the center of the worldwide financial industry. However, unemployment and crime remained high, reaching peak levels in some categories around the close of the decade and the beginning of the 1990s.

And then something new arrived on our shores. A story which is still being written. A new massive wave of Asian Immigration and massive foreign capital flowed into NYC. We’ll get back to that soon. First, we need to look even deeper at the culture in the mid 70's and how it played in a roll in how New Yorkers handled such a fiscal crises and how the disappearance of such culture doesn't bode well for our next bust period.

This culture is what has been termed as Vanishing New York. Despite, the tremendous financial difficulties experienced by the average New Yorker, there was a culture of small business's, often through connections in ethnic communities, that helped poor New Yorkers get by. Small business once the lifeblood of many communities are vanishing rapidly. Today’s generation has no memory of the friendly Jewish Butchers, Irish Pubs, Italian Bakeries and neighborhood pharmacies as butchers have been replaced with Whole Foods. Simple but hearty fare and inexpensive drafts of the Irish Pub have been replaced upscale restaurants sponsored by hedge funds and premium beers.

If Mrs. Grossman hadn’t received her social security check, the butcher would lean over the counter and tell Mrs. Grossman, “No problem, tell me what you want.” And usually she got a discount and the butcher never charged one cent interest. Want a taste? For some the free samples of salami and baloney satisfied them sufficiently to call it lunch. Today, Mrs Grossman walks into a Whole Foods to find expensive cartons of organic milk shipped from Pennsylvania’s Amish country for five bucks a pop. No longer does she have access to her friend the butcher that would ensure that she had the staples she need in the fridge until pay day. 

Mama at the local Italian bakery knew you by name and would sit at your table over a cup of espresso asking you about your family. My favorite Irish Pub closed it’s door in the name of progress. Steaming steaming pots of pastrami, corned beef and a cold draft beer and a lunch for under 10 bucks have been replaced by high end restaurants with Maitre D’s to sit you and they are usually co-owned by a hedge fun. At the ole Blarney Stone, the bartender knew your name, called your name out before both feet were in the door and had a cold one already sitting on the bar with your name on it. And I never put ketchup on my french fries because I knew I’d be feating the bar tenders who preferred salt and pepper. 

Your local pharmacist who knew the name of everybody in the family and if you couldn’t afford your full prescription he would give you just enough to carry you over. Now on every street corner is Duane Reade, Walgreens and Rite Aides spending inordinate amounts of money lobbying congress to change medical and regulatory policies for their benefit.

The Italian bakeries and coffee shops have been replaced with lattes at Starbucks with no Mama behind the counter handing you a free cookie to be washed down by that fragrant Italian espresso. Yes, The retail box stores which spends millions upon millions lobbying congress. Small business, no leverage, and no access to power to influence laws and regulations that are responsible for their demise. The depersonalization has broken the old ways of doing business, community ties that were once congregated around old immigration routes are disappearing.

Suffice to say, the next time bust period won’t be as friendly to those on fixed incomes. Free markets? I think not. New Yorks disappearing store fronts with ghosts of vinyl records, double features and pierogi's aka Vanishing New York has been meticulously chronicled by a blogger that goes by the name of Jeremy Moss. Moss concluded that under the three year term of Nanny Mayor Bloomberg, including his illegal third term, 6,926 years of history in the erosion of small business took place in just three terms. WOW and SIGH!

Now let’s get back to great wave of Asian immigration and connect the DOTS to see how that is related to those 0 studio apartments that are thing of the past. 

Whereas our first wave of immigrants were Europeans escaping from financial repression trying to make a life in the New World, a good percentage of our most current wave of immigrants got cash to burn. Not all of them, some still seek the American Dream and work long hours at hard labor. However wealth has come here to to invest in what they perceived as a strong dollar. They are not readers of Turdville for sure.

In the 90’s, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Bangladesh immigrants flooded neighborhoods which used to be Irish, Italian, Greek and Jewish. Today, New York City has four Chinatowns, the smallest would rivals any American Chinatown I’ve visited, Boston, Phili, Chicago etc… Those 0 studio apartments have become 00 apartments in Harlem and in the posh neighborhood of Tribeca, a studio will run you ,700 some due to cycles of inflation and demand created by foreign capital inflows. .

I am certain I don’t have to tell any of Turdville the profound of effects of three consecutive bouts of QE and the resultant low velocity of money where people hoard their cash. The demand for real estate caused by over 22 billion dollars in capital flowing into the city by Chinese buyers and before them Saudi Tycoons and Russians. In addition to family retail buyers being recruited by local governments in oversee promotional campaigns, Chinese buyers are snapping up luxury condo’s, hotels such as the Waldorf Astoria, office buildings such as the General Motors Tower. Understand that the disappearance and vandalism of the 70's is being payed for by foreign money that doesn't want to live in a pig styie.

Foreign investors have been pouring into top-quality New York properties, in part out of the belief that the city is a safe long-term bet, and that higher-end buildings will see values grow faster than less-flashy buildings. High demand, strong foreign capital flows, low dollar velocity, increasing unemployment serves to put the squeeze on middle class New Yorkers.

To add insult to injury, quaint New York is now being advertised by the NYC Tourist Board as Taylor Swift's NY. A Pennyslvanian!!! Puuleeeze! There ain't too many New Yorkers happy about this one.

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Let's summarize some of the lessons of the 70's financial crisis. Local Governments can’t maintain infrastructure and parks. It seeks handouts just like the population, unscrupulous ties with Wall Street and corporate support to maintain the basic functions of a thriving metropolis.

A strong dollar relative to other currencies driving foreign investment while the Fed floods our cities with fiat while the banks sit on the reserves and the public hoardes its money creating a form of stagflation. Hard working citizens find it to difficult to pay rent or their mortgages and eat. Unfair access to government has driven the small guy out of business and corporate owners of real estate would rather have an empty storefront with tax write offs than rent a storefront for below market The busts become increasingly more difficult on the lower class.

Finally, one more quality of life issue for fans of George Orwell. The new New York City ID. I believe San Francisco was the first to implement such a plan. It’s not enough to have a state driver’s license anymore , a passport, a social security card, now they want everybody in New York to have a local ID. They have been seducing New Yorkers to get their ID with offers of free admission to parks and museums, discounted Broadway show tickets and much more. Yet, it should be no surprise that the city needs to have a better record system to track it’s citizens. Using the Ebola Non-Crisis as a motive, City Hall has been working on a tracking system incase of martial law. And that’s confirmed by a person working on the system.

And now, I leave you to go enjoy the res of this fine St. Patty’s day in search of a four leaf clover to add to your stacks. Let’s take it out with some fiddle and Irish Whistle. Some of you folks know how much I love a good flute.

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About the Author

Green Lantern


Mar 17, 2015 - 4:33pm

GL - Fantastic Post My Friend!

I enjoyed your post comparing NY then to now. I must confess. I am secretly afraid of ever going to NY. Too big and scary for me.

But, if you come out to Cali, I'll take you to a killer NY deli where they still speak with some strange accent I can barely understand . . .

Great post, thank you again.

Green Lantern
Mar 17, 2015 - 4:43pm

Good to see you too CL and JY

Good to see you too CL and JY as well!! yes, it's true we have our own peculiar accent. Tell you what CL, You come to New York and you have your own personal tour guide into hidden New York where tourists never venture because they are so hypnotized by tall buildings. A day out to wine country in Long Island w/first class beaches. Don't worry, I know all the back roads. You'll have to do the Empire State building and the Statue of Liberty on your own. Pretty much don't do the tourist thing. But if you start getting homesick, I'm sure I can find a California style restaurant somewhere. Sprout Salads with cranberries? I'm not up to date. I'll just wear a pair of sunglasses and I guess open toe sandals;)

InsAndArtsGreen Lantern
Mar 17, 2015 - 4:52pm

Great Story Green Lantern...Thank You

My immigrant friends in NY all worked very hard and deserve everything they've gotten from said work. I grew up in a household speaking Hungarian and very little English. The joke was the lawyer would have to stay open late so we could bring the actual cash to his office 'for the house' Both my grandparents worked in factories, then built a bar (cut the wood/tables etc )... America was truly beautiful. And I wouldn't be here because frankly, to be Jewish in Hungary in 1938 is basically a one way ticket to 'you know where' so...yeah, so I do not view immigration through a tunnel of fear or zenophobia.

In the 1990's to 2010 I built a business around the NYC metro immigrant community. I sold them car insurance. Faxed their papers and helped them get their heating subsidy allotments. And, and, and. All gratis. People need help and they should get it. No problem. Hey, I need help myself sometimes.

But here is where the new story and the old story diverge. I'm talking a new story here that I want to make everyone aware of because the implications go beyond NYC to the very heart of our democratic republic.

We've both been lauding people that have put down deep roots as our fellow citizens. They good people are our neighbors and our friends and sometimes our new family. They are citizens. They pay taxes. They are physically, bodily present with us...and we with them. They make our country stronger.

The new global elites are not present. They keep their billions offshore. They are not citizens.They pay no city income tax, while the working stiffs of New York foot the bill for the services that they use. Like police and fire. They are not "here" as fellow US citizens.They live in the new "Supertowers" ( 20 million dollar condos ) that block the sunlight of Central Park and have captured our government to craft bills that lower their property taxes to a fraction of what they should be. This is an outrage.

All of us in Turdville should take notice when Bill Moyers and Alex Jones are saying the same thing....that's all I'm saying. Watch the video.

Mar 17, 2015 - 4:58pm

Dirty Jersey

I walk down by the Rahway River..and see trash & litter that was discarded by the Natives.. it is vile. Jersey... New York.. both are gnarly none of the natives give a shit

Green Lantern
Mar 17, 2015 - 5:30pm

@InsandArts.... Great story! 

@InsandArts.... Great story! And thank you for sharing!!!

You can almost tell who the New Yorkers are on forums. Even Fix who thinks he lives in the woods has some of that spirit living in the area that comes through in his writing. You might not hear the accent but the spirit comes through. When I go to the midwest and meet another New Yorker ya can tell. Used to be another sassy gal around here that was from NY. She even scared me

Hungarian eh? I never met one I didn't like. I got some of that blood.

Mar 17, 2015 - 6:14pm

Re: Dirty Jersey ...

Easy. Easy, Wizdum.
Let me take a moment to defend the neighborhood!
You must remember that the area is the most densely populated in the entire nation, so you get a larger amount of everything, including those who don't care; but I believe they're still a minority. I grew up in Linden with a view of the refinery and jets overhead. We kept our lawn cut and sidewalk swept despite the view. My aging parents still make sure that the old house gleams. It's who you are as a person that matters. Don't be too quick to dismiss us all and the area as a whole. There are some great people in Linden, Elizabeth and Rahway, through that N.E corridor, just like anywhere else. Sometimes life just doesn't present many options as to where you're going to live for a time. As for the elected rats that Trenton feeds by egregious taxation ... well there I can't disagree; dirty they be.

Happy Saint Patty's to you!

4 oz
Mar 17, 2015 - 6:20pm

All Digital Currency???

Found this vid to be very Thought Provoking..... Thoughts like "The banks/government will try to make hard currency/cash obsolete so that everyone gets sucked into their Ponsi, debt-based scam without choice. They will say it is to stop fraud and tax avoidance." or "...about stack security In Illinois cops will take your stack if they pull you over. happened to someone's wife I know moving and there stack that was worth north of 150k they had to hire a laywer and after six months they still don't have it back." From the comments section....

Am curious what others here in Turdville might think.

Silver and Gold, Feel the Real
Mar 17, 2015 - 6:57pm


Need probable cause to search a vehicle. Traffi violations don't qualify unless it is something leading to DUI. A dog hit on the car will qualify if it is a drug dog or some kind of illegal contraband. If they ask to search you can say no. If they search amyway, it is an illegal search. If they take your property, ie coins without tying it to some kind of illegal activity like proceeds from illegal drugs, they can't condemn them.

Doesn't rule out corruption, but that would be third world banana republic sleeze.

Mar 17, 2015 - 8:01pm

@Green Lantern - Thank You

Wow. That was great. Really took me back to what I can remember of the 70's! Just ran into this little bit of NY Italian humor: A Mafia Godfather finds out that his bookkeeper Angelo has cheated him out of $10,000,000. His bookkeeper is deaf. That was the reason he got the job in the first place. It was assumed that Angelo would hear nothing so he would never have to testify in court. When the Godfather goes to confront Angelo about his missing $10 million, he takes along his lawyer who knows sign language. The Godfather tells the lawyer, "Ask him where the money is!" The lawyer, using sign language, asks Angelo, Where's the money? Angelo signs back, "I don't know what you are talking about." The lawyer tells the Godfather, "He says he doesn't know what you're talking about." The Godfather pulls out a pistol, puts it to Angelo's head and says, "Ask him again and if he gives the wrong answer I'll kill him!" The lawyer signs to Angelo, "He'll kill you if you don't tell him." Angelo trembles and signs, "OK! OK! The money is in a brown briefcase, buried behind the shed at my brother Joe's house. The Godfather asks the lawyer, "What did he say?" The lawyer replies, "He says you don't have the balls to pull the trigger."

Mar 17, 2015 - 9:07pm

Re: All Digital Currency???

That's what M.A. was talking about.

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