Saturday, August 15, 2020

NYC Is Dead Forever...

RW note:

I am running the below James Altucher piece as a worst-case scenario for New York City.

Have the lefties destroyed NYC (and San Francisco and Chicago) forever? It is possible. I see moving vans all over the city of San Franciso. The furniture is always being carried into the vans, not the other way around.

The combination of the COVID-19 lockdowns and the rioting done under the name of Black Lives Matter, under lefty leaders, have delivered a powerful blow to once vibrant cities.

Altucher is correct that the lockdowns and riots have shown many that it is not necessary for most to work in an office with employees around.

I have employed people across the country sometimes for decades that I have rarely met with in person. So it is not a new concept for me.

There was a lawyer (who also had a full-time job with Morgan Stanley) that did extensive work for me pretty much every week and it was years before I met her in person.

But there is a reason to live in a great city that has nothing to do with day to day work obligations.

It is being at the epicenter of greatness at your doorstep. The great theatre, restaurants, lectures and debates, and a thousand other things all take place in different corners of great cities. The greatest pencil store in the world is in New York City.

Many of these in-person experiences can not occur except in great cities.

So the big question is: Do these cities come back or are they doomed to become different versions of  Detroit at its lowest point?

Remember if the tax base flees these cities, and the base appears to be fleeing, these cities are going to have serious problems. This is what central planning, always a blunt instrument, is best at---destroying life, vibrancy and greatness.

If New York City does collapse as a great city, as Altucher seems to think it will, I predict new great cities will emerge. Perhaps one in Florida, perhaps specifically Miami. The greatest will still need a place to live and congregate. I think Miami has a head start but as I like to say in the EPJ Daily Alert, the G.L.S. Shackle kaleidoscope is still turning at this time, and it is unclear how all the pieces will fit when the spinning stops.

There are particular expectations says Shackle but they "can change as swiftly, as completely, and on as slight a provocation as the loose, ephemeral mosaic of the kaleidoscope. A twist of the hand, a piece of 'news', can shatter one picture and replace it with a different one."

The COVID-19 panic and the BLM riots have been pieces of news that have set the urban kaleidoscopes in motion. We still do not know what the next semi-permanent picture will look like.

Here's Altucher:

NYC Is Dead Forever... Here's Why
By James Altucher

I love NYC. When I first moved to NYC, it was a dream come true. Every corner was like a theater production happening right in front of me. So much personality, so many stories.
Every subculture I loved was in NYC. I could play chess all day and night. I could go to comedy clubs. I could start any type of business. I could meet people. I had family, friends, opportunities. No matter what happened to me, NYC was a net I could fall back on and bounce back up.
Now it's completely dead.
"But NYC always always bounces back." No. Not this time.
"But NYC is the center of the financial universe. Opportunities will flourish here again." Not this time.
"NYC has experienced worse." No it hasn't.
A Facebook group formed a few weeks ago that was for people who were planning a move and wanted others to talk to and ask advice from. Within two or three days it had about 10,000 members.
Every day I see more and more posts, "I've been in NYC forever but I guess this time I have to say goodbye." Every single day I see those posts. I've been screenshotting them for my scrapbook.
Three of the most important reasons to move to NYC:
  • Business opportunities
  • Culture
  • Food
And, of course, friends. But if everything I say below is even 1/10 of what I think, then there won't be as many opportunities to make friends.
Midtown Manhattan, the center of business in NYC, is empty. Even though people can go back to work, famous office buildings like the Time-Life skyscraper are still 90% empty. Businesses have realized that they don't need their employees at the office.
In fact, they’ve realized they are even more productive with everyone at home. The Time-Life Building can handle 8,000 workers. Now it maybe has 500 workers back.
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(Midtown reopened, but still empty)
"What do you mean?" a friend of mine said to me when I told him Midtown should be called Ghost Town. "I'm in my office right now!"
"What are you doing there?"
"Packing up," he said and laughed, "I'm shutting it down." He works in the entertainment business.
Another friend of mine works at a major investment bank as a managing director. Before the pandemic, he was at the office every day, sometimes working from 6 a.m.–10 p.m.
Now he lives in Phoenix, Arizona. "As of June," he told me, "I had never even been to Phoenix." And then he moved there. He does all his meetings on Zoom.
I was talking to a book editor who has been out of the city since early March. "We've been all working fine. I'm not sure why we would need to go back to the office."
One friend of mine, Derek Halpern, was convinced he'd stay. He put up a Facebook post the other day saying he might be changing his mind. Derek wrote:
“In the last week:
  • I watched a homeless person lose his mind and start attacking random pedestrians. Including spitting on, throwing stuff at, and swatting.
  • I’ve seen several single parents with a child asking for money for food. And then, when someone gave them food, tossed the food right back at them.
  • I watched a man yell racist slurs at every single race of people while charging, then stopping before going too far.
And worse.
I’ve been living in New York City for about 10 years. It has definitely gotten worse and there’s no end in sight.
My favorite park is Madison Square Park. About a month ago a 19-year-old girl was shot and killed across the street.
I don’t think I have an answer but I do think it’s clear: it’s time to move out of NYC.
I’m not the only one who feels this way, either. In my building alone, the rent has plummeted almost 30% — more people are moving away than ever before.
It’s not goodbye yet. But a lifelong New Yorker is thinking about it."
I picked his post out but I could've picked from dozens of others.
People say, "NYC has been through worse," or "NYC has always come back."
No and no.
First, when has NYC been through worse?
Even in the 1970s, and through the ’80s, when NYC was going bankrupt, even when it was the crime capital of the U.S. or close to it, it was still the capital of the business world (meaning, it was the primary place young people would go to build wealth and find opportunity). It was culturally on top of its game — home to artists, theater, media, advertising, publishing. And it was probably the food capital of the U.S.
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(NYC in the ’70s)
NYC has never been locked down for five months. Not in any pandemic, war, financial crisis, never. In the middle of the polio epidemic, when little kids (including my mother) were becoming paralyzed or dying (my mother ended up with a bad leg), NYC didn't go through this.
This is not to say what should have been done or should not have been done. That part is over. Now we have to deal with what IS.
In early March, many people (not me), left NYC when they felt it would provide safety from the virus and they no longer needed to go to work and all the restaurants were closed. People figured, "I'll get out for a month or two and then come back."
They are all still gone.
And then in June, during rioting and looting, a second wave of NYCers (this time including me) left. I have kids. Nothing was wrong with the protests but I was a little nervous when I saw videos of rioters after curfew trying to break into my building.
Many people left temporarily but there were also people leaving permanently. Friends of mine moved to Nashville, Miami, Austin, Denver, Salt Lake City, Dallas, etc.
please enable images to see
Now a third wave of people is leaving. But they might be too late. Prices are down 30–50% on both rentals and sales no matter what real estate people tell you. And rentals are soaring in the second- and third-tier cities.
I'm temporarily, although maybe permanently, in South Florida now. I also got my place sight unseen.
Robyn was looking at listings around Miami and then she saw an area we had never been to before. We found three houses we liked.
She called the real estate agent. Place No. 1: Just rented that morning 50% higher than the asking price. Place No. 2: Also rented (by other New Yorkers. The agent said they came from New York for three hours, saw the place, got it, and went back to pack). Place No. 3: Available.
"We'll take it!" The first time we physically saw it was when we flew down and moved in.
"This is temporary, right?" I confirmed with Robyn. But… I don't know. I'm starting to like the sun a little bit. I mean, when it's behind the shades. And when I am in air conditioning.
But let's move on for a second:
Summary: Businesses are remote and they aren't returning to the office. And it's a death spiral — the longer offices remain empty, the longer they will remain empty.
In 2005, a hedge fund manager was visiting my office and said, "In Manhattan you practically trip over opportunities in the street."
Now the streets are empty.
I co-own a comedy club, Standup NY, on 78th and Broadway. I'm very, very proud of the club and grateful to my fellow owners Dani Zoldan and Gabe Waldman and our manager Jon Boreamayo. It's a great club. It's been around since 1986 and before that it was a theater.
One time, Henry Winkler stopped by to come on my podcast. He was the one who told me it had been a theater.
He said, "I grew up two doors down from here and used to perform here as a kid. Then I went out to LA to be the Fonz and now I'm back here, full circle, to be on your podcast. This place has history." Things like that happen in NYC.
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(When Henry Winkler stopped by Standup NY and I got to meet the Fonz!)
In the past year, Jim Gaffigan, Jerry Seinfeld, Tracy Morgan, and many others have been on the stage.
It's only one step to get onstage. Jim Gaffigan fell flat on his face while he was walking up the step. The next day, on Seth Meyers’ late night show, Jim said, "I failed at the one thing you're supposed to do — I couldn't stand up!"
I love the club. Before the pandemic I would perform there throughout the week in addition to many other clubs around the city and, in the past few months, clubs in Chicago, Denver, San Jose, LA, Cincinnati, all over the Netherlands, and other places.
I miss it.
We had a show in May. An outdoor show. Everyone socially distanced. But we were shut down by the police. I guess we were superspreading humor during a very serious time.
The club is doing something fun: It’s doing shows outside in the park. This is a great idea.
In a time like this, businesses need to give to the community, not complain and not take.
That said, we have no idea when we will open. Nobody has any idea. And the longer we remain closed, the less chance we will ever reopen profitably.
Broadway is closed until at least the spring. The Lincoln Center is closed. All the museums are closed.
Forget about the tens of thousands of jobs lost in these cultural centers. Forget even about the millions of dollars of tourist-generated revenues lost by the closing of these centers.
There are thousands of performers, producers, artists, and the entire ecosystem of art, theater, production, curation, that surrounds these cultural centers. People who have worked all of their lives for the right to be able to perform even once on Broadway, whose lives and careers have been put on hold.
I get it. There was a pandemic.
But the question now is: What happens next? And, given the uncertainty (since there is no known answer), and given the fact that people, cities, economies loathe uncertainty, we simply don't know the answer and that's a bad thing for New York City.
Right now, Broadway is closed "at least until early 2021" and then there are supposed to be a series of "rolling dates" by which it will reopen.
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(The Schulman Theater on Broadway on a Friday evening)
But is that true? We simply don't know. And what does that mean? And will it have to be only 25% capacity? Broadway shows can't survive with that! And will performers, writers, producers, investors, lenders, stagehands, landlords, etc. wait a year?
Same for the museums, the Lincoln Center, and the thousands of other cultural reasons millions come to New York City every year.
The hot dog stands outside of the Lincoln Center? Finished.
The above originally appeared at Altucher Confidential.



  1. Some of the time, when I'm in the States, I stay at my GF's place in Poughkeepsie, NY.
    Her condo is right by the train station, which is the terminus of the Hudson Line to NYC.
    Normally (haha), the parking garage is full, and all the many street allocated parking spaces are full as people commute down to NYC to their jobs.

    We got here a couple of weeks ago, and MY GOD! the entire garage was EMPTY. All the street spaces were empty... NO one was going to NYC!!
    It's DEAD!!! It's OVER!!! NYC is DONE!!! DEAD!!! SIX MONTHS into the ***crisis*** and NO ONE is going to work in NYC!!!
    Anyhow, sell your NYC real estate, buy in Montana or where ever.
    Boats in the tropics... Why not? Might as well go down in comfort...

  2. It's funny to see the impulse to just flee rather than try to maybe not vote in someone as moronic as de Blasio next time. I have a feeling that Giuliani could make a return without too much resistance.

  3. Buy when there is blood in the streets. (Rothchild). The bleeding has just begun.

  4. I tend to agree with unowned and curious1984. As long as oceans remain the least expensive mode of bulk shipping cities like NYC will survive. And when people like Altucher start leaving it suggests there is enough "blood in the streets" to start buying. It helps if you are young and energetic.

  5. Of course, all of these dipshits moving elsewhere will bring their moronic voting patterns with them. Too bad they could have been beaten and eaten by the mob up there.

  6. My friend, James' sister, had some thoughts: