Money

Panic Is a Virus

“We are certainly right now in this country out of the pandemic phase.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, April 26, 2022 Whether or not the pandemic is really over, the acute phase of the disease is, I hope, largely behind us, and we can now, at last, enjoy a brief bit of perspective on COVID and our …

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Stefan Lorant, The Conclusion

Although disaster had been briefly averted, the key word was “briefly,” as we’ll see in the final episode of this series, which I’ll call: More Trouble in Lenox Previously in this series: Stefan Lorant Part VI, Of Charm and Disaster Lorant and I were passing through the kitchen on our way out the back door …

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Charm and Disaster

Following the fiasco of the “crystal palace,” I decided to take sterner measures with Lorant. I called him up and told him that unless we could resolve the problem of the purloined photographs, it was unlikely the fifth edition of the Pittsburgh book would ever see the light of day. I also told him I …

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Of Crypts and Art Thieves

My next story about Lorant is a short one, but memorable, at least to my wife and me. We’ll call it:   Tale from the Crypt Previously in this series: Stefan Lorant Part IV, Read All Over the World My wife, Simin, is half-Czech, and Stefan seemed to be deeply infatuated with her. Or maybe he …

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Read All Over the World

Pittsburgh: The Story of an American City was ubiquitous in Pittsburgh. It seemed as though everybody who was anybody had a copy, and some people had copies of every edition. Previously in this series: Stefan Lorant Part III, Charming and Impossible But what was remarkable was how well the book was known outside Pittsburgh. The first edition …

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Charming and Impossible

Stefan Lorant was a dashing, debonaire fellow when he was young, and even in his late old age he remained attractive to women. One 40-year-old divorcée recalls having an affair with Lorant when the latter was in his eighties. “He was impossibly romantic,” she told me. Previously in this series: Stefan Lorant Part II, The …

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The Book on Pittsburgh

Wherever Stefan Lorant went in his life – whatever job he held, whatever town he lived in, whatever nation – he had a remarkable knack for being in the right place and for sniffing out who the most important people were and meeting and befriending them. Previously in this series: Stefan Lorant, Part I In …

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Russia, Ukraine and the Markets

Editor’s note: Pittsburgh Quarterly recently asked regional financial experts to respond to the following question:  The Russian invasion of Ukraine has further increased energy and food prices and disrupted supply lines for key manufacturing inputs. What are the implications for the global and U.S. economies? James Armstrong, Henry Armstrong Associates Free and open trade have …

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Stefan Lorant

Stefan Lorant, the pioneering photojournalist, was born at the turn of the twentieth century and died 96 years later, at the century’s end. In between, everywhere Lorant went and everything he did ended up having momentous consequences. Some of those consequences were micro and personal – but memorable – while others were macro and geopolitical. …

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China’s Xi Is Having a Really Bad War

“Putin’s War Is Xi’s Worst Nightmare” — Headline above Craig Singleton’s article in Foreign Policy The term idée fixe refers to a monomania of the brain, a pathology of the mind, an erroneous notion that nonetheless powerfully resists almost any attempt to modify it. When an idée fixe establishes itself in the mind of an all-powerful autocrat, the consequences are always …

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The Fed and Inflation

Editor’s note: Pittsburgh Quarterly has regional financial experts to respond to this question: Inflation has proven to be higher and “stickier: than the Fed expected. Do you think the Fed’s policies are appropriate or is the Fed behind the curve? What is your best estimate for inflation at the end of 2022?   Linda Duessel, Federated …

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U.S. Policy Blunders Helped Provoke Ukraine War

Whose Fault is the Ukraine War? “[Post-Cold War], many American elites embraced a vision of a U.S.-led ‘liberal international order’ which could theoretically integrate the entire world… into a single, globalized whole.” –  Stephen Kotkin, Princeton University Previously in this series: A Coat of Varnish Part V, ESG Investors Need to Wake Up to Reality …

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Rough Ride for Markets

Editor’s note: Pittsburgh Quarterly asked regional financial experts to respond to two questions, one about effects on the economy of the war in Ukraine and the other of the effects Federal Reserve actions (or inaction). Many of their answers to the first question are below, followed by the second question and many of their answers …

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ESG Investors Need to Wake Up to Reality

Will ESG Finally Grow Up? “ESG is a huge, gross gravy train for fund managers, consultants, and marzipan layer technocrats of various flavors. The whole thing is rotten.  If you work in the space, your choices are to be a useless idiot trolling in the trenches for what you think is a good cause, be …

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The Fed’s Failure – and There Goes Climate Change

The Fed Is Having a Bad War “The Fed’s odds [of achieving a soft landing] are now substantially below 50-50.” — Alan Blinder  “The Fed that Failed.” Title of an article in “The Economist” “I have been humbled.”  Fed Chair Jay Powell Previously in this series: A Coat of Varnish Part IV, History’s Lessons and Historic …

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Will Stocks Go Lower this Year?

Editor’s note: Pittsburgh Quarterly asked regional financial experts to respond to this question: “Do you believe U.S. markets have already seen their lowest levels for 2022?  If so, why?  If not, why not?” The question was asked in March with an April deadline. We thank them for giving readers their responses, which follow. Linda Duessel, …

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History’s Lessons and Historic Mistakes

Angela Merkel’s Reputation Is Trashed – But Is America at Fault? Merkel’s reign at the top of Germany’s political apparatus was remarkable, and she stepped down as something of a secular saint with a 77% approval rating. But it’s amazing what six months can do. Previously in this series: A Coat of Varnish Part III, …

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Not Everyone Agrees with Us

Let’s Talk Nukes “If a third world war is such a crippling worry, how can the premise of NATO be credible? Its effectiveness has always depended on the belief that NATO is indeed prepared to run the risk of nuclear war.” — Martin Wolf in the Financial Times Previously in this series: A Coat of Varnish Part …

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Posture of U.S. Weakness Encouraged Ukraine Invasion

What do Caesar’s Wife, Justice, and Military Deterrence Have in Common? “The lure of appeasement – in essence, a return to the policies pursued in many Western capitals for the past two decades – will be strong.” — Thomas de Maizière, former German defense minister Previously in this series: A Coat of Varnish “It is better …

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A Coat of Varnish

C. P. Snow titled his last book, written a few years before he died, A Coat of Varnish. What he meant, as he put it, was that “Civilization is hideously fragile…there’s not much between us and the horrors underneath. Just about a coat of varnish.”  Civilization, that is to say, is like a thin coat of …

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Timely Thoughts on a Free America

“The defense of agency is what individual human rights are meant for.”  James Griffin Previously in this series: On Agency, Part XII, The Complexities of Institutional Racism Last week I pointed out that controversial policies like DEI, microaggressions, safe spaces, trigger warnings and so on shouldn’t be viewed with so much alarm for the simple …

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The Complexities of Institutional Racism

Last week we examined the introduction into American law of so-called “group rights” and the failure of that collective agency movement to improve the lives of African-Americans – America’s most disadvantaged group. Previously in this series: On Agency, Part XI, American Blacks and Agency For roughly 200 years the very high individual human agency of …

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