Jeffrey Picower

Jeffrey Picower
Jeffrey Picower

From James B. Stewart’s Pulitzer Prize-winning¬†Den of Thieves (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992) (p. 236):


By and large, investors reacted enthusiastically. The largest single investor – and in Nagle’s view one of the most mysterious – was Jeffrey Picower, who invested $28 million. Nagle had no idea where Picower’s money came from; he occupied an unmarked office suite in an anonymous Manhattan tower.


We now know where Picower’s money came from: tax shelters for wealthy clients; merger deals; pharmaceutical spin-outs; and being the major investor with Bernie Madoff. Stewart’s reportage is one of several ‘weak signals’ that are now more significant given the Madoff investment scandal revelations. Picower’s estate settled a Madoff trustee suit for $US7.2 billion in 2010.


Stewart’s description of Picower is also interesting in terms of financier elites. Picower, like the Theosophical Secret Chiefs or the Austra family of vampires in Elaine Bergstrom‘s Shattered Glass¬†series, deflects attention from himself. The mysterious fortune; the unmarked office suite; and the anonymous Manhattan tower made Picower more enigmatic and understated in a period when Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe indulged in excesses. The true 1% perhaps remain in the shadows.

5th November 2012: Michael Mann’s Sources of Social Power

Coauthor Ben Eltham bought a copy of Michael Mann‘s Sources of Social Power: Volume 2 (1760-1914) to a meeting on Friday afternoon.


Mann’s book is a dense, scholarly study and comparative analysis of the modern nation-state system that blends economics, history, sociology, and political science.


It’s also the kind of life-long, indepth research that is now impossible to do under Australian research and publications metrics. Research administrators interpret these metrics as Taylorist outputs: they often don’t consider the long-term investment needed to develop such research programs.


Mann has just released Volume 3 (1890-1945); and Volume 4 (1945-2011) is due out at the end of November.

30th August 2012: Revolt of the (Rich) Elites

Mike Lofgren writes in The American Conservative on 1% elites:


At the end of the Cold War many writers predicted the decline of the traditional nation-state. Some looked at the demise of the Soviet Union and foresaw the territorial state breaking up into statelets of different ethnic, religious, or economic compositions. This happened in the Balkans, the former Czechoslovakia, and Sudan. Others predicted a weakening of the state due to the rise of Fourth Generation warfare and the inability of national armies to adapt to it. The quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan lend credence to that theory. There have been numerous books about globalization and how it would eliminate borders. But I am unaware of a well-developed theory from that time about how the super-rich and the corporations they run would secede from the nation state. [emphasis added]


Exhibit A: Christopher Lasch‘s The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy (New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 1995) which Lofgren mentions in his final paragraphs, and which I read a review copy of in 1996. I recall Bertram Gross also raised this possibility in Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America (New York: M. Evans, 1980) which later inspired Consolidated‘s album Friendly Fa$cism (Nettwerk, 1991) — a radical activist band not on the playlist for this year’s Republication National Convention.