14 June 2018


“viaggi da solo per conoscere un nuovo amico – te stesso”
#estihana

Reporting from NYC after a high-profile reconnaissance mission on the Ligurian coast of Italy, spanning Rome to San Remo…

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Italy is getting flack for refusing to accept a migrant ship in Sicily, which carried 600 migrants from North Africa. Spain made themselves look good by accepting the ship. Italy is all about #chiudiamoiporti (‘lets shut the ports’) right now, as the country resists a stubborn and ever-growing population clamoring for asylum in Europe. Italy struggles to uphold its nationalism and maintain what virginity remains of its culture, to put itself first while still abiding by the EU’s core values of solidarity, human rights, etc.

In Esti news, on a long train ride along the Ligurian Sea from Livorno to Roma Termini, I witnessed two Italian conductors interrogate two African passengers who were riding illegally without tickets and without ID:

‘C’e l’hai un documento?!’ (Do you have ID?!) he barked at them. They didn’t speak any Italian, and the conductor refused to speak English. He repeated again and again, ‘NO! SIETE IN ITALIA! Siete in Italia, parlate Italiano!’ You are in Italy – you must speak Italian!

The conductors represent Italy’s new far-right anti-immigrant stance in a Europe bombarded by asylum seekers.

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5-14-18


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In world news, today is a historic day in history. Trump moved the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, upending decades of US foreign policy. From New York City, I am waving hello to the royal couple Ivanka and Jared who joined the delegation to the holy city. 

In Esti news, I accessorized with my special evil eye ring to deflect misery and embrace unity! 

🙏SHALOM/PEACE/PACE/PAX/PAZ🙏

3-14-18


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On the home front, Sec of State Tillerson learned through Twitter that he’d been ousted by Trump. The president tweet-appointed Mike Pompeo, head of the CIA, to the position. Tillerson and Trump were a ticking time bomb anyway.

In M&A news, Trump killed the $117B bid by Singapore based Broadcom to acquire American tech company Qualcomm. Deals involving foreign acquisition are often scrutinized by the US government-led Committee on Foreign Investment to check for national security concerns. Trump is making an attempt to keep near and dear companies with access to information and intelligence, closely guarding the US’s high stake in the technology sector worldwide.

In Esti news, the morning sun shined so bright for this young lady’s birthday all the way across the Atlantic Ocean.

2-27-18


20180226_195517_Burst01In Europe, Milan Fashion Week #mfw is in full swing as fashionistas clad in avant garde couture serenade crowds of eager followers. One noted exception in Dolce & Gabbana which replaced models with drones to showcase their accessories line because grazie mille, humans are redundant and extraneous.

In world news, spotlight on the Koreas. The Winter Olympics finished up this week in South Korea, as the country is in discussions to restore peace with the North. The White House hit the South with further sanctions last week. There’s also talk of North Korea supplying Syria with weapons. If collusion on terrorism activity  is discovered between the Koreas, sanctions will not go away anytime soon.

In Esti news, I have found (again) a mantra to live by, right under my nose on Amsterdam Avenue!

2-9-18


IMG-20180206-WA0009~2It’s been a rollercoaster of a week on Wall Street with the DOW treading into 10% market correction territory. This morning, I shared these musings with a stranger in the elevator who quipped, two things drive the market–fear and hope. I asked him which one is stronger. Aha. Greed! Greed is stronger than both, he told me. Trump loves to boast about the market’s stellar performance, but sometimes it takes a reality check to abruptly quash bullish investor behavior.

This week Jerome Powell became the new Fed chair, replacing Janet Yellen. There’s talk of interest rates rising as quantitative easing dries up and investors become worried that money is more expensive to borrow. This cuts into corporate profits and pushes stock prices down. Investors want a safer, steadier return, so they sell off their stocks and prefer to buy safe US bonds. This is why in a volatile market, the yield on T bills nudges upward (bond prices fall). 10 year notes are now at 2.857%, compared to 2.3% a year ago.

In double Esti news, I enjoyed being reunited with my favorite Brit! Sista sista ❤

1-4-2018


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In geopolitical news, the Koreas have restored communication: North Korea called South Korea to chat about the Winter Olympics, the North’s nuclear program, and their shared border. The US has wended its way into the discussion, owing to its steadfast allyship of the South and its stubborn refusal to negotiate with a warmongering North. Trump took the war to Twitter where he bragged that his “Nuclear Button [is] much bigger & more powerful than [North Korea’s].” His show-offy tweet is laughable but more importantly was endorsed by WH press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Sanders reiterated that the US will not consider any Korean negotiations without a promise from the North that it will destroy its nuclear arsenal.

In business news, Bitcoin has spiraled into a global related discussion of creating local virtual currencies to bypass US sanctions, namely in Russia and Venezuela. While Bitcoin is independently maintained by Blockchain, not by any government, these virtual currencies would be semi-controlled by their local leaders. For example, in Venezuela, where hyperinflation threatens its economy, the vision for this new kind of money is that it would be backed by the country’s bountiful oil and natural resources.
In Esti news, I enjoyed my annual New Year’s tradition at the Upper East Side’s Russ & Daughters cafe at the Jewish Museum. A toasted everything bagel, with pastrami lox and scallion cream cheese, and a tomato on top, served with a side of Amedeo Modigliani’s finest collection of portraits.
Happy 2K18!

12-12-2017


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On the markets, Bitcoin is trading at $17,000+! Trading monopoly money backed by faith alone is perfect for people with a unhealthy appetite for risk. Little to no AML control leaves the cryptocurrency wide open to facilitating money laundering, and the lack of governmental oversight is at the root of the issue. Is this a time bomb waiting to explode? Time will tell.

In the big city, I participated in the UJA-Federation Wall Street Dinner last night. The honorees’ speeches blew my mind. I’ll share one. Howard Lutnick, the dynamic and charismatic CEO of Cantor Fitzgerald, spoke of his humble beginnings as an orphan at Haverford College. At 18, Lutnick was left to fend for himself, with a sister and brother. A week into freshman year he was forced to drop out of college. His extended family did not come to his aid as one might expect. One month later, an anonymous donor stepped up to invite him back to school and fund his four years. Thanks to the full scholarship, he went on to graduate and rise in the ranks on Wall Street, becoming a successful businessman. On 9/11, he tragically lost his 36-year-old brother Gary, along with 657 other Cantor-Fitzgerald colleagues. Lutnick responded by creating the Cantor Charity fund, providing millions of dollars to victims’ families and other charities. Here’s the amazing part – each year on 9/11, the firm donates 100% of that day’s revenues. Cantor employees also voluntarily donate their salaries for that day to the fund!
Lutnick was the recipient of a stranger’s kindness, someone he never knew. This stranger saw an opportunity to change a life, and grabbed it by the horns. Years later, when 658 families were left to deal with tragedy, Lutnick stepped up to fill the void, to be that same anonymous donor who funded his college and changed his life. He wanted to stop the cycle, to avoid a repeat of people being left out in the cold with no support like he initially was.
One day, Lutnick told us from the dais, someone is going to tap you on the shoulder and give you the opportunity to change a life, to give on a big scale. You can ignore it or you can answer it.
In Esti news, tonight is the first night of Hanukkah. May the light of the menorah inspire us to answer that tap on our shoulder!

 

12-6-17


IMG_5936.jpgOn the home front, in Southern California, thousands are evacuating their homes as wildfires continue to rage.

In world news, a different kind of fire was lit. Our Commander in Chief has spoken from the White House: “Today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.” Trump announced he will make good on his campaign promise to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the embassy from Tel Aviv, where it has been since statehood. What’s the big deal? The “Green Line” armistice of 1949 divided the city in half with Israeli control of Western Jerusalem and Jordanian control of Eastern Jerusalem. In the 1967 war with Jordan, Israel won control of East Jerusalem and reunited the city, but the PA and its allies still view it as the capital of a future Palestinian state. Thus, international consensus on the holy city is still hotly debated.

Trump’s pledge is one that many former US presidents promised but did not deliver, so the status quo shift brings sweeping accolades from pro-Israel Americans and evangelicals, and, simultaneously, sweeping populist anger in the Arab world.

In Esti news, this morning I was on the receiving end of an eager high-five from an Italian colleague. “Esti, I heard they’re moving the capitol.” At first I thought he meant a client is moving capital with an A, as in funds. Doh!

(I took this picture in 2010 in Pisgat Ze’ev, an Israeli neighborhood in Eastern Jerusalem.)

10-03


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In the USA, the country is reeling from Sunday’s deadly attack in Las Vegas with the death toll at 59 and hundreds hospitalized for severe wounds. As details materialize about the shooter, it is no surprise that Stephen Paddock was a lone wolf with a psychiatric family history. Cue the discussion of lone wolves causing the demise of modern democratic civilization rather than a larger, external terror organization.

On the Equifax data breach, the credit reporting agency’s ex-CEO Richard Smith appeared at a court hearing today to explain how the company allowed a data breach of 145.5 million customer accounts – roughly 1/3 of the USA population! The former CEO shrugged his shoulders in apology for ignoring ‘patching notices’ that warned the company it needed to update its cyber security against hackers.

In Esti news, jab, cross, hook, upper cut, right kick, snatch— fueled by the above.

9-24-17


On the home front, Trump Trump Trump. Remember Trump’s travel ban on six Muslim countries? It expired, and tonight he announced a replacement. The new policy restricts visas from eight countries, notably North Korea, Iran – and – Venezuela!

In global news, the German people have spoken: polls show that Angela Merkel will serve a 4th term as Chancellor! Her party, the CDU, is on the conservative end of Germany’s political scene. It’s still unclear what her coalition will look like.

In the Caribbean, the US territory of Puerto Rico is in the spotlight. Hurricane Maria has ripped the archipelago to shreds, leaving it without electricity or running water, and no ETA on when either will be restored. Puerto Rico is a commonwealth – it has no representation in Congress, but it is entitled to federal aid just like Texas and Florida received after Harvey and Irma. The National Guard is at the scene.

In NYC, today was a whopping 90 degrees!