Dan Senor and his guests predict how Covid 19 will transform our world - indefinitely.
Delta... This is New York!
This was supposed to be the summer that we returned to normal, here in New York City and in every major city around the world. Right?
But now there’s increasing speculation that it might not happen, because of the Delta variant, and other variants that may hit us from the mutating virus.
How should our government and public health leaders respond? How should we respond?
We wanted to sit down with frequent Post-Corona guest John Podhoretz for a midsummer check-in on where we are with the City’s return. Specifically, we wanted to return to a topic John joined us to discuss last year - Broadway - when would Broadway really re-open, as that’s a proxy for New York’s return to its vibrant and striving pre-Corona past.
John Podhoretz is the editor-in-chief of Commentary Magazine, a columnist for the New York Post, and a long-time writer about live theater, films and popular culture. He’s also a fellow New Yorker, with whom I banter with on an ongoing basis about the state of our City.
Keep in mind, pre-Corona, Broadway attracted some 15 million theater-goers and close to $2 billion in revenues in a typical year. And that doesn’t even include all the other derivative jobs that are generated from millions of theater-goers attending shows each year. According to New York City’s tourism agency, in a typical year, there are 66 million visitors to NYC, generating $72B in economic activity and $7B in tax revenues. According to the organization Broadway League, close to $15 billion of that economic activity and 100,000 jobs here come from people going to shows, and visiting restaurants, hotels, transportation, and all the other local services tied to the theater experience.
Lots of excitement around Springsteen having re-opened his show on Broadway, but who else? Is this pop culture economy of New York coming back? If not, is that because of structural obstacles with New York’s overall return? Or is the Delta variant the new game-changer? And what about Eric Adams - the favorite to be New York’s next mayor - what do we think of his plans to bring this City back to life?
We’ll get into all these topics against the backdrop of Delta and New York.
Unexpected Presidential Advisors - with Gary Ginsberg
Who do presidents, prime ministers and business leaders listen to in the midst of managing a crisis? It’s a question that’s always interested me, from my time in government and business and also as a moon-lighting student of history.
I thought about that a lot during the covid pandemic. On this podcast series, we’ve talked about how the formal channels in our governments performed these past 18 months. But how about those unofficial channels from outside the government that wind up shaping our leaders' thinking and approach to world-changing events.
Think about the number of informed practitioners that government leaders had access to during Covid, outside the regular bureaucracy of government. Practitioners in everything from the markets, to experience with supply chains, to the front lines of medicines. How many of these people had relationships with our leaders from a previous time in their lives, that could or should have made their mark during this moment?
We are talking about a different category of presidential advisor. It’s what Gary Ginsberg calls “First Friends”, the title of his new book - the subtitle is “The Powerful, Unsung (And Unelected) People Who Shaped Our Presidents”
Gary has a fascinating background, having advised Governor Bill Clinton in his selection of Al Gore as vice-president, and served in the Clinton White House and Justice Department. He also worked for Rupert Murdoch, Jeff Bewkes at Time Warner, Masa Son at Softbank and Mike Bloomberg. He informally advised Israel’s former prime minister during a tumultuous time in US-Israel relations. He’s worked with a lot of leaders up close and observed how they make decisions.
Gary’s book is a compelling history of the way US presidents have relied on outside counsel in the midst of chaos. He gives us plenty to think about how our current and future leaders will navigate the next crisis, and who they should rely on.
Social Decay and The Pandemic - with Yuval Levin
The coronavirus pandemic was a public health crisis and an economic crisis, but was it also a social crisis? Will we look back at Covid19 as being a catalyst for unifying our society, tearing it apart, or simply accelerating trends that were already in the works long before March of 2020?
Yuval Levin is one of the most prolific and influential thinkers on the subject of the health of our society - pre… and post corona. He wrote a book about the social breakdown in the U.S. and how to turn it around. It’s called ”A Time to Build: From Family and Community to Congress and the Campus. How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream”.
As for the book’s timing? Well, it was released just six weeks before the world shut down due to the pandemic. And yet his diagnosis of societal breakdown is as relevant now as before the pandemic… actually more so.
It reminds me of a book from the beginning of this century, when Harvard University political scientist Robert Putnam wrote the groundbreaking book “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Society”. Putnam tried to scream from the hilltops about how we had become increasingly disconnected from family, friends, and community. Yuval’s book is the perfect bookend to Putnam, some two decades later, with a global financial crisis and a pandemic along the way.
Yuval takes a measure of the health of our society through the lens of the role of institutions in our lives. He believes that our institutions are in pretty bad shape and doesn’t think we repair society without first repairing our institutions. Yuval takes a long view on the roots of the crisis, how we got here, how covid changed things, and where we go from here.
Social decay in American life - did the pandemic accelerate, arrest, or reverse the path we were on? And where do we go from here?
Blackstone’s Jonathan Pollack on Real-Estate Post Corona
Many have been surprised that areas of the real estate market are booming, Post Corona. So what do we know about the pandemic’s impact on an exodus from some cities, and the growth of other cities?
One of the ways that I have learned on this limited series podcast is from our top flight guests, but also from our listeners. A business practitioner - an operator or investor - will hear one of our experts on the pod and get a hold of me with an alternative analysis; it’s like I get to crowdsource ideas from our listeners.
Well today, we’re bringing one of those subscribers on the show. Jonathan Pollack is a Senior Managing Director at the Blackstone Group and Blackshone’s Global Head of the Real Estate Debt Strategies group. Blackstone is one of the largest owners of real estate in the world. Jon, who is based in New York, manages a large team, overseeing Blackstone’s real estate debt investment strategy. He’s also a member of the firm’s real estate investment committee, and serves on the board of Blackstone Mortgage Trust.
Prior to joining Blackstone, he was a Managing Director and Global Head of Commercial Real Estate, as well as Head of Risk for Structured Finance, at Deutsche Bank.
To call Jonathan Pollack a “New York Bull” may be overstating it, but let’s just say he’s a skeptic of some of the skeptics we have featured on Post Corona.
So is real estate in New York and other big cities coming back? And what does it tell us about the future of cities? Or - did the Pandemic set them back in ways that will take too long to recover from?
Naftali Bennett - Who Are You?
Naftali Bennett - Who Are You?
Today we’re doing a special convention tied to the news. Politics in Israel is moving fast. It’s not necessarily about the Coronavirus, but it’s important in our geopolitics.
As of today, Israel may be on the cusp of forming a new coalition government, composed of 7 parties from across the ideological spectrum - from Naftali Bennett’s Yamina Party and the New Hope party on the Right, through Yair Lapid’s party in the center, to the Labor and Meretz parties on the Left. And then there is the Arab Muslim party, Ra’am. Think about that - an Arab party is indispensable to a new Israeli government coming to power. So much for Israel being an “apartheid state”. And so much for the notion that politics in Israel has become so polarized that there’s not a strong political center.
Then again, in the days ahead, this coalition may fall apart because it is dependent on a razor thin majority. It’s still too early to count out Prime Minister Netanyahu.
But if it comes together, the man who would serve as prime minister for the next two years is Naftali Bennett. There are a lot of questions swirling around right now about who he is, as he’s relatively new to the international scene.
Well, I sat down with Minister Bennett a few years ago when he was Minister of Economy, but it is surprisingly relevant today. The conversation gives us a window into Naftali’s worldview on a range of issues that are still front and center today. It was recorded while he was serving alongside Yair Lapid, in a Netanyahu-led government, at the 92nd Street Y before a live audience.
In our conversation, Naftali and I hit a number of topics:
- his service in one of the army’s most elite commando units - Sayaret Maktal - the same unit that both BiBi and Yoni Netanyahu served in.
- His experience running his high tech start-up in New York City when he was called up to fight in the 2006 Lebanon War.
- His views on the the Haredi - ultra-orthodox - community in Israel and how to integrate many of them into the modern economy, and the army.
- His observations on the role of Jewish-Arab relations inside Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian track, including timely insights about Gaza and Hamas.
- And finally, his governing partnership with Yair Lapid, which began almost a decade ago, despite very different worldviews. They referred to each other as “achim” — brothers.
Tom Cotton on the Lab Leak Hypothesis of Covid19
The source of SARS-CoV-2 has been a mystery. One theory that was initially met with a scathing response from many in the media and some in the scientific community was that SARS-CoV-2 might have leaked from a research lab in Wuhan, Hubei in China - the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The leading voice elevating the need to investigate this possible scenario back in February of 2019 was U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR). At the time, The New York Times declared Senator Cotton’s remarks a “conspiracy theory.” The Washington Post headlined an article: “Tom Cotton keeps repeating a coronavirus conspiracy theory that was already debunked.”
Was it debunked? Or has more light been shed on it that warrants further examination? That’s where we are today, in which we suddenly find the discussion turning. Some in the press and in the science community - and among a bipartisan set of officials - are exploring this hypothesis.
To be clear, these voices are not giving much credence to the possibility that the leak - even if it came from the Wuhan lab - was some kind of deliberate bioweapon attack. The question is whether well-intentioned research there was accidentally leaked. If it was, why can’t we get to the bottom of it? Might have there been a cover-up of a potentially innocent error? What are the implications if there was, indeed, an accident and then a cover-up?
To help us understand all of this, we are joined today by Senator Tom Cotton. He serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee - where he is the Ranking Member for the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and Counterterrorism. He is also on the Armed Services Committee and, most importantly for purposes of this issue, he sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Senator Cotton is a graduate of Harvard, and Harvard Law School. He served nearly five years on active duty in the United States Army as an Infantry Officer. In Iraq with the 101st Airborne and in Afghanistan with a Provincial Reconstruction Team. He previously worked at McKinsey & Co.
But before we bring on Senator Cotton, we wanted to provide a short explainer of the facts that we know so far, to inform our conversation with the Senator. To help us, science writer Jim Meigs returns to the Post Corona podcast. Jim is the former editor of Popular Mechanics, where he helped reposition that century-old brand to become a major voice on contemporary tech issues. He currently co-hosts the How Do We Fix It? podcast and is working on a book about man-made disasters. Previously, Jim was executive editor at National Geographic Adventure. He’s the monthly tech columnist for Commentary Magazine and is with the Manhattan Institute, the most important urban policy think tank in the U.S.
Always enjoy Dan Senor’s insights into all aspects of life. Breaking down often sophisticated topics into easy to understand conversations.