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Economist Sept 21, 2019

发表于 10-5-2019 09:26:26 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
本帖最后由 choi 于 10-6-2019 11:14 编辑

(1) Schumpeter | The Lessons of Stephen Schwarzman. How to build a legacy.
https://www.economist.com/busine ... -stephen-schwarzman
(book review on Stephen Schwarzman, What It Takes; Lessons in the pursuit of excellence. Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster, Sept 17, 2019

quotation AFTER paragraph 2:

"Contrary to its barbarian image [from the book: Bryan Burrough and John Helyar, Barbarians at the Gate; The fall of RJR Nabisco. Harper & Row, 1989], the world of finance is not culture-free. Yes, employees at Lehman Brothers, where Mr Schwarzman once worked, famously had a reputation  for not stabbing people in the back -- but walking right up and stabbing them in the front. And Blackstone is sometimes similarly portrayed as a dealmaking war machine, with Mr Scharzman as the merciless field-marshal; not for him [is hard-to-measure pieties about the purpose of business. But his company does have purposes, he feels: to generate healthy profits for investors, which include pension funds, while providing 500,000 jobs in firms in which Blackstone invests.  Peer beneath Blackstone's armour and clear values emerge. The interplay between three in particular -- ruthless ambition, unexpected humility and fierce loyalty -- is the backbone of Mr Schwarzman's book. It also lies at the core of his company.

"Start with ambition. Blackstone is steeped in unabashed elitism. Mr Schwarszzman makes no bones about his desire to be bigger [or better] than the rest. After he co-founded Blackstne with $400,000 in 1975, he set out to raise more money from investors than any upstart fund before it. [A few more examples of Blackstone's firsts, not just temporally but also in ranking] * * * This year it scrapped its partnership structure to become a corporation, raising its market value above $60bn * * * When hiring, he aims to recruit only 'tens' [recall a 1979 American film titles 10 starring Bo Derek]. As he puts it, You have two options: either run a middling company going nowhere or clear out the mediocrity.' His philanthropy focuses on the elites of tomorrow -- by sending Americans to China, for instance.  This competitive streak is balanced by surprising humbleness. Blackstone readily learns from its mistakes. Mr Schwarzman owns up to several. The most painful came in 1989, when he backed a new employee's gamble on a steel firm, Edgcomb, despite opposition from more experienced colleagues. It went spectacularly wrong. Since then, he ordained, investment decisions must always be made collectively. The meetings, robust affairs where participants compete to pick holes in each other's ideas, reflect [a verb whose subject is 'meetings'] the premium Blackstone affords ambition. But focus on downside risks rather than upside [(noun only -- NOT an adjective): 'the more positive aspect of a situation': Lexico.com] potential promotes prudence.

"The third value is loyalty. When Blackstone's share price tumbled during the financial crisis, Mr Schwarzman listened to board members urging him to maintain its dividend, to spare the blushes of the Chinese sovereign-wealth fund, which had taken a huge punt on the IPO. As he told Jimmy Cayne, the boss of Bear Stearns, as the investment stared into the abyss: 'There are times when you just have to stand up and write a check.' In other words, safeguard your reputation by making good those whose money you are responsible for. Mr Cayne did not listen.   

"He glosses over the inestuous relationship between Wall Street and Washington. That said, his defence of capitalism at its red-blooded best is refreshing.

(a) The Blackstone Group, Inc
("an American multinational private equity, alternative asset management [or alternative investment, which includes real estate], and financial services firm based in New York City. * * * Blackstone's private equity business has been one of the largest investors in leveraged buyouts in the last decade * * * In 2007, Blackstone became a public company via a $4 billion initial public offering to become one of the first major private equity firms to list shares in its management company on the public stock market. * * * As of 2019, the company's total assets under management were approximately US$545 billion dollars. In April 2019, Blackstone disclosed it was converting to a corporation from a publicly traded partnership")

(b) "to spare the blushes of the Chinese sovereign-wealth fund, which had taken a huge punt on the IPO"
(i) spare the blushes of (someone) (idiom): "British informal : to prevent (someone) from being embarrassed"
https://www.merriam-webster.com/ ... e%20blushes%20of%20(someone)
(ii) punt
(v): "1 (in some gambling card games) lay a stake against the bank
                    1.1 British informal[:] bet or speculate on something  <investors are punting on a takeover>"
(n; early 18th century from French [noun masculine] ponte player against the bank ['punter' in English: Wiktionary], from Spanish [noun masculine] punto a point): "informal British : a bet  <those taking a punt on the company's success>?
(iii) Sumeet Chatterjee and Matthew Miller, China Sovereign Fund Exits Blackstone Investment After 11 Years. Reuters, Mar 13, 2018
https://www.reuters.com/article/ ... years-idUSKCN1GQ09T
("The original agreement with Beijing Wonderful Investments [Ltd 北京万德福投资有限公司] - the legal entity set up by CIC [China Investment Corporation 中国投资有限责任公司] to invest in Blackstone - was struck in May 2007, just before the private equity firm's initial public offering a month later.  The pact allowed the sovereign wealth fund to own up to 9.99 percent of the private equity firm. In 2008, the wealth fund raised its stake in Blackstone to 12.5 percent, Reuters reported at that time")

(c) "Jimmy Cayne, the boss of Bear Stearns * * * making good those whose money you are responsible for"
(A) The Bear Stearns Companies, Inc (was founded * * * on May Day 1923 by Joseph Ainslie Bear, Robert B Stearns [and another]; [was] acquired by JPMorgan Chase in March 2008)  Wikipedia.
(B) The English surname Stearns means child of Stern. The latter is an English surname "from Middle English stern(e) strict, austere." Dictionary of American Family Names, by Oxford University Press. In comparison, the German/ Jewish surname of the same spelling is derived from German noun masculine Stern star.
(ii) make good

(d) red-blooded (adj): "VIGOROUS, LUSTY"

Why, especially the second component?  I read various online sources, but fail to find to its etymology.

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 楼主| 发表于 10-5-2019 09:26:51 | 显示全部楼层
本帖最后由 choi 于 10-6-2019 11:16 编辑

(2) Johnson | First Among Equals. Which is the best language? You decide.
("A recent paper on information density in speech, by François Pellegrino and his colleagues at the University of Lyon. Some languages like Japanese, have few distinct sound and tight rules on how syllables may be structured, so that the number of possible syllables is low (think ka, ru, to, etc [五十音]). Other languages (like English) have fewer constraints, so that a single syllable may be as complicated as strengths. All things being equal, one syllable chosen among English's thousands will carry more information than one picked from Japanese's dozens. But the study find that this imbalance is counteracted by speech rate: speakers of Japanese get in their many simple syllables more quickly than English-speakers do their complicated ones. Overall  information density turns out to be the same across hugely different tongues.  In short, languages are governed by trade-offs. One that avoids making certain information mandatory [such as two forms of you in French, German and Spanish to indicate closeness or distance of you] may be easy to speak, but leaves the listeners to fill in the gaps. It may be simple to learn but less expressive. Some languages have lots of redundant elements: in los tres gatos negros están mojados ('the three black cats are wet' in Spanish), all six words indicate a plural. Marking the plural just once (as Chinese does [I assume it is 'three'] would be enough. But redundancy has a virtue emphatic communication is more likely to survive a noisy environment")
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