Archive for the ‘Holy Cross’ Category

Profiling Holy Cross Grad Mark Walsh

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

Devin Leonard for the Times wrote this weekend about Mark Walsh, formerly of Lehman Brothers. The article portrays him as one of Wall Street’s top deal makers whose decisions were one of the major factors that led directly to the fall of the bank. Yet the article is also strangely positive in describing Walsh. 

What stood out for me most were the numerous connections Walsh has to me. As the article describes his brief biography:

Mr. Walsh grew up in Yonkers, the son of a lawyer who once served as chairman of the New York City Housing Authority. He attended Iona Preparatory School in New Rochelle; the College of the Holy Cross, where he majored in economics; and, finally, the Fordham University School of Law.

And then a bit later:

He bankrolled Tishman Speyer in its purchase of the Chrysler Building in 1997.

I am a fellow alumnus of Holy Cross – a fact which by itself causes me to be irrationally positive about individuals, from Chris Matthews to Bob Cousy to Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau. He also went to Fordham Law – which is one of the schools I am considering. And I currently work in the Chrysler Building. All tenuous connections, but enough to make me root for the guy.

Of course, it’s hard to get around the damning nature of this reporting:

[I]t wasn’t long before Mr. Walsh found a way to do an even bigger deal with Mr. Speyer’s company. In May 2007, Lehman and Tishman Speyer offered to buy Archstone-Smith Trust, a $22 billion deal struck at the peak of an already dangerously frothy market. Tishman Speyer put up a mere $250 million of its own equity. Lehman, in a 50-50 partnership with Bank of America, put up $17.1 billion of debt and $4.6 billion in bridge equity financing.

The most enlightening aspect of the article were the way in which it spotlighted the oddness of what was going on. Leonard describes one of Walsh’s biggest clients pulling out his money saying that:

 [T]he real estate market — and, indeed, the entire financial system behind it — was becoming increasingly bizarre.

In an example of this from 1997 – well before this observation – Leonard describes one of Walsh’s coups – how he managed to steer Lehman clear of the financial crisis resulting from the failure of Long Term Capital Management that Nassim Nicholas Taleb had predicted at the time:

On the eve of the financial crisis brought by the near collapse of Long Term Capital Management in 1998, Lehman flushed $3.6 billion in commercial real estate loans through its securitization machine, avoiding some of the losses that crippled other firms, including Nomura and Credit Suisse.

I hate to say it – but I have no idea what that means. And that’s not unintional – at least according to a lecture given by Financial Times reporter Gillian Tett at the London School of Economics. (A lecture very much worth listening to – and which I will blog about later.)

But to demonstrate the oddly positive take on Walsh, here’s how Leonard concludes his piece:

His friends say they believe that Mr. Walsh will eventually emerge from the rubble of Lehman’s collapse and return to deal-making.

“Guys like this are very rare,” says Mr. Rosen, the developer. “He’ll be back. He picked up the phone and people listen. Nobody can take that away from him.”

Back in the game perhaps – but hopefully a bit wiser.

Chris Matthews: Entertaining Bloviation

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Mark Leibovich has a long piece in this weekend’s New York Times profiling Chris Matthews, bloviator extraordinaire and Holy Cross grad. This last fact is especially relevant because I tend to have a slightly irrational affection for prominent Holy Cross grad. 1 Chris Matthews is no exception. Despite the attacks on him from various liberal sources including Media Matters and despite the fact that a number of liberal thinkers I admire point to Chris Matthews as exemplifying what is worst and most destructive in today’s media, I still like the guy. Of course – I don’t quite buy the premise – let’s call it the Glenn Greenwald premise – the blames the media more than any other source for our dysfunctional politics. I’ll be writing more about that as time goes on.

I’m a big fan of Mr. Greenwald – and even as I agree with most of the individual points he makes, and with his overall view of the larger political dysfunction, I disagree with the central thesis – of his blog and apparently his new book. I plan on reading his book in the next few weeks and posting my thoughts.

But for the moment, let’s appreciate one of the more entertaining characters in cable news, Chris Matthews, with a few excerpts from the Times piece:

There is a level of solipsism about Matthews that is oddly endearing in its self-conscious extreme, even by the standards of television vanity…

Sometimes during commercial breaks, Matthews will boast to Olbermann of having restrained himself during the prior segment. “And I reward him with a grape,” Olbermann says…

“I remember we were out hitchhiking once,” O’Regan told me. Matthews started arguing about Nixon and Vietnam. “It was just like watching his show today. Chris would ask a question, then he would answer it himself and then the person was invited to comment on Chris’s answer to his own question…”

By contrast, Matthews has called Obama “bigger than Kennedy” and compared the success of his campaign to “the New Testament.” His reviews of Obama’s speeches have been comically effusive at times, as when he described “this thrill going up my leg” after an Obama victory speech. (“Steady,” Olbermann cautioned him on the air.)

(more…)

  1. For those unaware, the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA is my alma mater. []

Holy Cross – Fordham

Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

The undefeated (within the Patriot League) Holy Cross Crusaders have now been defeated in a heartbreaking loss to Fordham in the Bronx.  A few costly mistakes and a pickoff at the 35 yard line with 19 seconds on the clock and the Crusaders down by three sealed the deal for Fordham.

It was also very cold, and Fordham ran out of hot chocolate, and so the afternoon was a loss in many ways.

A bit of controversy at my alma mater

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

And a rather light news article covering the controversy.

(more…)