Wall Street Billionaire Building Own Doom Bunker

Friday, July 16, 2010
By Paul Martin

The New Doom

By Max Abelson
NewYorkObserver.com

“Life is such a fucking disaster,” a prominent New York hedge fund manager said recently. “We all live in some kind of world we create for ourselves. And I think that what happened is that built into that world were very enlarged expectations about what life was going to be. There’s been this sensation of excessive expectation that, frankly, became unsustainable.”

He had just returned from his ranch in the wilderness of central Idaho. “I just like it because it’s massively low human density. It would be a place you could hole up in. But, gosh, I hope that doesn’t happen.”

Last week, not very far from the hedge fund manager’s ranch, the billionaire John Malone gave a little-noticed interview to The Wall Street Journal from Allen & Co.’s annual Sun Valley conference. Asked about the biggest risks to Liberty, his media conglomerate, Mr. Malone said his concern was this country’s survival. “We have a retreat that’s right on the Quebec border. We own 18 miles on the border, so we can cross. Anytime we want to, we can get away.”

His wife is more concerned: She’s already moved her personal cash to Australia and Canada. “She wants to have a place to go,” said Mr. Malone, No. 400 on this year’s Forbes list of the richest people in the world, “if things blow up here.”

Before the financial crisis, furious pessimism about the national economy started with a small and mostly scholarly group of doomsayers, like N.Y.U.’s Nouriel Roubini and Yale’s Robert Shiller. But that pessimism has now gone mainstream, spreading from wonks in finance to the city’s daily conversation as last year’s rebound drifts further away. Growth is slow; unemployment is enormous; the world feels sludgy. It won’t help if banks post withered profits later this week, as they’re expected to.

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