Thursday, August 20, 2015

puerto rico tied up by cephalopod mollusc with its tentacles in the hon.bro.preznit's pants...,

thenation |  Marc Lasry is perhaps the kind of benefactor—someone who raised $500,000 for Obama’s last campaign—the president and the Democrats think they should keep happy. After all, Lasry was Obama’s choice for ambassador to France in 2013, but unfortunately “had to remove his name from consideration after a close friend was named in a federal indictment for playing in a poker ring with alleged ties to the Russian mafia.” Just last May, Lasry threw a $2,700-a-head fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, while assuring MSN viewers that she is “moving a little bit to the left.” 

Lasry’s ties to big Democratic politics go back many years. A March 2010 feature in The Wall Street Journal (titled “Avenue Capital’s Investor in Chief—He’s Prescient. He’s Well-Connected. Just Don’t Call Marc Lasry a ‘Vulture.’”) describes him lunching with then–White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, in part to advise Emanuel on whether banks would resume lending again in the wake of the 2008 crisis. A 2012 New York Times article said “About 50 people paid $40,000 each to crowd into an art-filled room” in Lasry’s apartment to hear Obama and Bill Clinton speak. Last decade, Lasry’s Avenue Capital even famously employed Chelsea Clinton, whose husband has more recently flopped in making bad investments in Greece while heading his own hedge fund. 

Lasry, who was once a humble UPS driver whose parents convinced him to go to law school, seems to be at heart a gambler capable of rolling the dice with anyone in the global Wall Street hedge-fund casino dice game—as well as actual casino owners, like Republican candidate and anti-Mexican bigot/misogynist Donald Trump. This partnership, which stretches back to Trump’s Atlantic City casino bankruptcy in 2009, eventually resulted in Lasry buying him out and becoming the chairman of Trump Entertainment Resorts in 2011, a post Lasry eventually resigned. 

The stories about Lasry in the business press describe him as the “don’t call him that” vulture-fund investor; the optimistic gambler who “bets” on economies like those of Spain or Greece to “recover,” and then profits from that. This 2012 Bloomberg story describes a regular poker game he has with other hedge-fund managers; one colleague assesses him as “good at figuring out what the odds are. He’s willing to take moderate risk.” 

Yet it’s pretty hard to believe that someone who is worth $1.87 billion, according to Forbes—presumably an indication of good business sense—would believe that economies that are in a “death spiral” would miraculously recover. It’s more likely that rather than believing in a Puerto Rican economy that had shown no signs of growth for so long, and whose economy was largely driven by government employment, Lasry bet that its inability to declare bankruptcy would yield a higher return once it defaulted. Avenue Capital was one of many vultures that began hovering over Puerto Rico in late 2013, when its junk-leaning bonds caused credit analyst Richard Larkin to say of the vultures, “They can smell the blood and the fear.