By DAVID MOON, Moon Capital Management,
May 20, 2007
What happens to people when
they start dealing with other people's money and think they are in charge of the
economy? Strange things.
Consider the luck of New Jersey Governor
John Corzine. Three weeks following a horrific automobile accident in which he
almost died, Corzine returned to part-time work a few days ago.
He held a series of television interviews on
his first day back on the job ' interviews that were high-profile media events
in the populous, media-saturated Northeast.
You might have expected Corzine to use this
opportunity to extol the importance of seat-belt use. (He wasn't wearing one at
the time of his accident.) He might have made general comments about highway
safety. It would have been a great opportunity to give a speech about equal
access to health care; everyone should have the same quality of medical services
as a multimillionaire governor.
Instead, Governor Corzine used this valuable
platform to float the notion that certain business segments in New Jersey weren't paying
I wonder when he had this revelation? Was it as his Chevy
Suburban was careening out of control, tossing him about the interior?
Or did the governor ' previously
an incredibly accomplished person in the private
sector ' gestate
this idea for months, and only after meeting with his own ghost of Christmas
future realize that this was the most important issue in his political
Similar questions occur when you
ponder a Republican-controlled Congress and White House. For seven years the GOP
had the opportunity to offer citizens smaller government, more focused on the
For most of the seven years tax
revenues rose, thanks to the long economic expansion.
Guess what else rose? Pork-barrel
We may think that the president's
popularity ratings collapsed because of Iraq, but the collapse is probably at
least equally due to the Republicans' handling of fiscal policy.
If they'd done what they promised
about taxes and spending, more voters might have given them significant leeway
on foreign policy. Americans usually do.
comes to money, people do and say strange things.
Did you read John Edwards' comments
about his temp job at a hedge fund between his last run for the White House and
his current one?
The former North Carolina senator, a champion of the underclass and
former director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina, worked for the Fortress
Investment Group for a year.
When asked about it, he said he took
the lucrative position primarily to learn about financial markets and their
relationship to poverty.
Please don't tell us that you have
to work for a hedge fund to learn about the relationship between financial
markets and poverty.
For a simpler explanation, guess who
was the single largest employer of donors to the Edwards campaign in the first
quarter of 2007.
Answer: Fortress, which produced
more than $100,000 in the three months.
There are no records of gifts to the
Edwards campaign from poverty-stricken areas of Appalachia.
David Moon is president of Moon Capital Management, a
Knoxville-based investment management firm. This article
originally appeared in the News Sentinel (Knoxville, TN).