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Billionaire Capital Turns Into Ghost Town: "Home Contracts Down 80%", Trophy-Cars Pile Up In Showrooms

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It used to be that a quick walk around downtown Greenwich could pass for an exotic car show but those days seem to be coming to an end as hedge fund returns have suffered and, as one jewelry store owner points out, "one doesn’t want to become the next episode of ‘Billions.’” 

Greenwich

 

As recently pointed out by Bloomberg, Greenwich has long been one of the most prosperous communities in America with one out of every $10 in hedge funds in the country being managed there by the most elite funds like Viking Global, AQR and Steven Cohen's Point72.

But these days, as hedge fund returns have suffered and banking bonuses have remained stagnant for years, the trophy items like expensive jewelry and exotic cars are just piling up in luxurious Greenwich showrooms. 

The lonely $250,000 S-Class coupe at Mercedes-Benz of Greenwich says it all. For six months, it’s been sitting in the showroom, shimmering in vain.

 

“We haven’t had anyone come in and look at it,” says Joey Licari, a sales consultant at the dealership, looking over his shoulder at the silver beauty. “I feel like normally they would, maybe a few years ago.”

 

Ten-carat diamonds that can cost in the six figures collect dust in stores on the main drag.

But exotic cars and jewelry aren't the only items not moving as real estate brokers say that Greenwich mega mansions are sitting on the market for years amid collapsing prices.  As head of Starwood Capital Group, Barry Sternlicht, said the rich are being maddeningly frugal "you can’t give away a house in Greenwich."  In fact, according to Houlihan Lawrence contracts for homes between $5 million and $5.99 million are down 80%.

Many continue to try to sell their real estate holdings. As of Sept. 14, there were 46 homes at $10 million or more on the market, some that have been lingering since 2014, according to data from Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman.

 

Back in the day, “everybody in the world wanted five acres and pillars on their driveways, because that’s what you got when you ‘made it,”’ says Frank Farricker, a principal with Lockwood & Mead Real Estate who’s chairman of the Connecticut Lottery board. “Now, ‘made it’ means on the waterfront -- on a small lot with a brand-spanking new house.”

On example of the tanking Greenwich real estate market is the following 19,773-square-foot mansion once owned by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump that has been looking for a buyer for nearly two years.  It’s now on the market for $45 million or about 17% less than its original listing price of $54 million.  Shockingly the house has garnered limited interest despite a 3,000-bottle chilled wine cellar, a tennis court that converts to a hockey rink and a globe-shaped observatory with a retractable roof and high-powered telescope.

Greenwich

 

For those interested in something a bit more "affordable", former Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill is also trying to offload his 16,460-square-foot home at $9.9 million, a "bargain" at a nearly 30% discount to the original listing price of $14 million two years ago.

Greenwich

 

Of course, new Connecticut tax hikes are part of the problem as several hedge funds have shut down shop in Greenwich and moved to Florida where they can take advantage of better weather and cheaper real estate...oh, and a 0% state income rate doesn't hurt either. 

In 2015, Connecticut boosted the income tax for individuals making more than $500,000 and couples above $1 million to 6.99 percent from 6.7 percent. Levies on luxury goods rose to 7.75 percent from 7 percent on cars over $50,000, jewelry over $5,000 and clothing or footwear over $1,000.

 

Sternlicht said at a conference two weeks ago that this was why he relocated to the sunshine state. “We used to have no taxes,” he said wistfully, recalling Connecticut before it enacted its income tax in 1991.

Ah, the Sunshine State, Gorgeous!

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mkalus
1 hour ago
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Poor rich people. They deserve to get everything for free. /s
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Posted by fjamie013 on Tue Sep 27 17:47:36 2016.


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mkalus
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The invisible war

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More About Peter Turnley's Workshops in Cuba

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Cuba Workshops-4

Photo by Peter Turnley

Last Monday I wrote a short post about peoples' lust for adventure and Peter Turnley's fabulous workshops in Cuba. To answer a question I've been getting, no, I won't actually be going. I'd love to, but I do this. (Actually I've been aiming for one of the Paris workshops for several years, and haven't hit that mark yet. Hope remains.)

Since then I've learned more about the workshops, though, so I thought I'd share.

Cuba Workshops-2

Peter with one of the many workshop groups he has led in Cuba

Peter has so far led 18 successful workshops in Cuba. There are four more coming up soon:

Dec. 3–9, 2016
Dec. 30, 2016–Jan 5, 2017 (New Year’s workshop)
Feb. 11–17, 2017
March 11–17, 2017

The workshops take place in Havana,  with two-day trips outside of the city. Each workshop lasts for seven days and six nights. Peter partners with Cuba Cultural Travel, which has a license for "people to people cultural exchange." The package price of the workshop includes air travel round trip between Miami and Havana, hotel, visa, three local guides, and several group meals...in addition, of course, to daily photographic workshop and critique sessions led by Peter. Price adjustments can be made for people wanting to fly directly to Havana from their home cities. All registration and payment for the workshop is handled by Laura Adams of Cuba Cultural Travel, and anyone interested in attending should contact her by email at laura@cubaculturaltravel.com.

There is a "companion" price for people wanting to bring a non-photographing spouse. The workshops are open to participants from all over the world.

Cuba Workshops-3

Photo by Peter Turnley

The daily itineraries expose participants to many visually exciting and authentic aspects of Cuban daily life, with visits to some of the best outdoor dance clubs in Latin America, Santeria religious ceremonies, outdoor markets, ballet schools, afro-rumba dancing, a boxing gym, a modern dance troupe, and more. On day trips outside of the city you'll go to the tobacco region of Vinales; beach town of Bacuranao in Alamar, to Regla, a center of Santeria religious activity; activity, and the famous fishing village of Cojimar, where Ernest Hemingway wrote The Old Man and the Sea.

The workshops include walks through Havana Vieja, Havana Centro, along the famous seaside Malecon, and all over Havana. There's also plenty of time for participants to explore on their own. However, nobody ever needs to feel lost—there are three full-time Cuban photographer guides available to you, each of whom speaks perfect English. Peter is always accessible and also accompanies participants on their explorations.

Peter sees this is as both a personal and a photographic journey for participants. He helps you work on how to approach people and feel comfortable getting into the middle of it and working up close. During the workshops there is attention to camera technique and aesthetic discussion in addition to the strong emphasis on offering participants access to the spirit of Cuban life.

Participants speak...
I've mixed a few pictures made by workshop participants and some comments by other participants. Please note that these are all by different people—the pictures and written comments don't match up.

Cuba Workshops-6 Gulnara Samoilova

Photo by Gulnara Samoilova

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"I'm not by nature a people or street photographer and I wanted to go outside my comfort zone and really learn something, I did. Peter will teach you how to capture, create and tell a visual story. This is done in a simple and disciplined manner by a master. His incredible editorial process is something to behold. The regular edits and feedback sessions are exceptional and key to the process." —Frank Veteran

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Cuba Workshops-11 Alejandra López-Zaballa

Photo by Alejandra López-Zaballa

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"Beyond doubt, this was the most visually exciting week I have ever experienced across four decades as a passionate amateur photographer.... We had a fabulous time, learned a lot, and are already planning on returning to Cuba with Peter Turnley next year." —David and Susie Bush

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Cuba Workshops-9 Tracy Farrell

Photo by Tracy Farrell

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"Peter’s approach is philosophical rather than technical. There is minimal discussion of shutter speeds, f-stops, composition, light, etc. He stresses connecting with the subject and capturing a moment in their lives in order to better understand them as people.... Overall this workshop was a tremendously rewarding experience. Highly recommended."—Richard Nugent

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Cuba Workshops-10 Winifred Toro

Photo by Winifred Toro

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"Peter's enthusiasm is contagious. His photos confirm his love of life and he quickly transferred his confidence to me and my ability to capture. I grew as an artist and I have become more clear of my vision as a photographer. I am convinced that Peter attracts people with open minds to his workshops. My fellow travel mates were adventurous and always ready to expand their artistic skills. Bottom line—my friends are commenting 'Wow, you've changed!'" —Mary Moeller

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Cuba Workshops-7 Dan McConnell

Photo by Dan McConnell

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"What can I say about my trip with Peter Turnley to Cuba. Amazing? Yes. Spectacular? Of course. I dare to say even life changing. I have been home for almost three weeks and am still basking in the glow of Havana." —Andrea Kuhn

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Cuba Workshops-12 Beth Ruggiero-York

Photo by Beth Ruggiero-York

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"My week in Havana with Peter Turnley was extraordinary. Unforgettable. Magical. Peter's passion for photography, for the people of Cuba and for capturing and savoring every gifted moment will stay with me forever." —Virgil DiBiase

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Carpe diem
So, I don't know, I just think this is a moment. Peter is still in the pink of health, but he's getting older—he now only has the energy of any two normal people rather than the energy of three normal people (that would be four and six times the energy I have, respectively). He has many links to the great photographers of the postwar and later 20th century, and vast experience from the great age of magazines and print photojournalism. He knows Cuba as well or better than any non-Cuban photographer in the world. And Cuba is going to change fast, too. "Now" is a precious opportunity. Golden, I would even say.

Cuba Workshop-1

Peter at his one-man retrospective exhibition at Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes last Winter

If all this isn't clear enough, I think you ought to do this if you can!

Mike

Original contents copyright 2016 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.

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mkalus
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Mylan’s Capitol Hill Critics Still Don’t Believe Company Only Makes $80 Profit Per EpiPen

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Last week, when Mylan CEO Heather Bresch told a congressional panel that her company only makes $50 profit per EpiPen — the emergency allergy treatment that has risen in price by 600% in recent years — lawmakers found that hard to believe. And now that Mylan has revised that profit figure to $80 per EpiPen, the company’s critics are only getting louder. 

Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD), who last week accused Mylan of getting “filthy rich at the expense of our constituents,” is now calling into question the company’s revised profit margin, which was 60% higher than Bresch’s figure given during congressional testimony last week, CNBC reports.

“We didn’t believe Mylan’s numbers last week during their CEO’s testimony, and we don’t believe them this week either, which is why we gave them 10 days from the date of our hearing to produce their internal files,” Cummings said.

That means Mylan has until Friday to provide Congress with documents that will help determine what the company’s actual profits are for the drug, which rose in price nearly 600% in the last nine years.

Others in D.C. joined Cummings in arguing that the profit revision only raises more questions about EpiPens.

“Mylan continues to evade honesty about the costs associated with the EpiPen,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (MN) said in a statement to StatNews, adding that the profit revision “illustrates the need for further investigations.”

Rep. Buddy Carter (GA), who was on last week’s panel, is similarly critical about this apparent lack of transparency.

“Even after the CEO of Mylan told me under oath that Mylan’s profit per EpiPen is $50, we still don’t know if the information she provided is correct, and that’s a real problem,” Carter told StatNews.

In 2009, a two-pack of EpiPens had a sticker price of around $100. That same pair of auto-injectors now sells for $608.

On Monday, the pharmaceutical giant clarified Bresch’s statements, noting that her $104 per two-pack figure is Mylan’s profit after taxes. Before taxes, the profit is $88 per pen, or $166 per two-pack.

“Tax is typically included in a standard profitability analysis and the information provided to Congress has made clear that tax was part of the EpiPen Auto-Injector profitability analysis,” the company tells CNBC.

Still, the explanation wasn’t greeted with rounds of “oh, that makes sense.” Instead, the Wall Street Journal raised concerns about how the company came up with its numbers.

For example, the $52 figure applies the maximum 37.5% corporate income tax rate to EpiPen earnings, while the company as a whole only paid 7.4% in taxes.

Analysts told the WSJ at the time that the 37.5% tax rate Mylan applied to the EpiPen “has nothing to do with reality.”

Lawmaker: ‘We don’t believe’ Mylan on new profit numbers for EpiPens [CNBC]





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mkalus
9 hours ago
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I doubt this is going to go anywhere "useful".
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Public Backlash Grows To Proposed Ads In National Parks

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Backlash is growing against a proposal by the National Park Service that would allow some corporate logos and signage within park boundaries, with the majority of folks who weighed in on the idea during a public commenting period saying they’re against it.

In May, NPS announced a proposed donor recognition program — known as Director’s Order #21 — that would allow individuals and companies to have their names displayed on things like programs, benches, and other interior spaces at parks as a way to raise funds.

At the time, the service said the program would be more about recognizing donors, and that corporations wouldn’t be allowed to rename parks like Yellowstone or features like Old Faithful. No logos or ad language would be allowed either. Still, critics noted that some of the new donor recognition methods could take away from the park-going experience: under the proposal, corporate logos and wraps would be allowed on vehicles that donors have funded, for example.

NPS’ public commenting period on the proposal ended in May, but did not post those comments for review, Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert program and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) pointed out today, so CCFC requested the comments under the Freedom of Information Act.

The group obtained 345 of those comments [PDF], and, after reviewing them, said 78% of commenters oppose the NPS policy.

“We have reviewed those comments, and they make clear that the public is already outraged about many of the existing forms of commercialism in America’s national parks, and strongly opposed to the proposed changes which would allow more commercialism in our national parks,” Public Citizen and CCFC wrote in a letter [PDF] demanding revisions to the NPS policy. “Eighty percent of the public comments filed oppose DO21. NPS should take these comments seriously and not move forward with the revision as it is currently written.

Under The the federal Administrative Procedure Act, when the NPS issues a final rule “it must describe and respond to the public comments it receives,” CCFC says.

“It’s disappointing that the NPS did not post these comments for public review,” said Kristen Strader, campaign coordinator for Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert program. “But the public has spoken loudly and clearly against corporate sponsorships in our parks. We urge the National Park Service to hear their voices and abandon this plan, so the parks will forever be places to appreciate nature and American history, unspoiled by commercialism.”

The groups are also opposed to NPS’ plans to require park superintendents to engage in fundraising, as they say that could result in superintendents hired and rewarded on the basis of their fundraising abilities instead of their skills at managing parks and furthering the mission of NPS.

“Our national parks are America’s treasures, held in trust for future generations, and are not ‘brought to you by’ corporations,” said David Monahan, campaign manager of CCFC. “To teach children that an appreciation for our history, culture and natural resources is more important than materialism, the park experience must remain free of corporate logos and recognitions.”

Thus far, a petition led by CREDO Action, Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert, and CCFC has 215,000 signatures demanding that the NPS abandon plans to permit corporate sponsorships, naming rights, rights and branding in parks, the groups say.

NPS is expected to make a final ruling on the proposal by the end of the year.





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