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Daily Archives: July 8, 2017
Posted: July 8, 2017 at 9:42 pm
Don’t expect him to apologize, though.
The lonely US role at the G20 summit, a forum of the world’s most powerful economies that Washington once dominated, is exactly consistent with what Trump sees as his mandate for a nationalistic, “America first” foreign policy.
As Trump boarded Air Force One in Germany for the long flight across the Atlantic, some G20 leaders were left to reflect that their fears that he would be a disruptive force on the world stage have unarguably come true.
By now, most US allies had expected to be settling into the Hillary Clinton era, forging progress based on a shared vision of Western civilization, pursuing familiar multilateral approaches to saving the planet and to globalization.
Instead, they are learning to live with a sometimes capricious American President keen to redefine the West in his own nationalist image, who goes against the consensus of centrist, multilateral international politics, and who is not afraid to pull at the divisions existing within the European Union.
The United States’ step back has left other nations, especially Germany under veteran Chancellor Angela Merkel, to take up the banner of traditional Western leadership — a stunning scenario given Washington’s decades-long role as the most prominent player in global diplomacy.
At the end of Saturday’s meeting in Hamburg, Trump declined to give a traditional end-of-summit press conference, leaving it to leaders like Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron to give their take on developments with no push-back from the US side.
But it didn’t need a rare presidential press conference to make clear that the President’s second trip abroad showed just how much he has reshaped America’s role in the world since taking office six months ago.
The President appeared increasingly at ease on the international stage, mixing with foreign leaders, holding a flurry of bilateral meetings and sitting through long summit sessions — even if his daughter Ivanka caused a stir by briefly sitting in him for him in one meeting Saturday.
The broad language appeared to be an attempt to keep Washington in the big G20 tent in terms of trade policy, even though leaders recognize there are broad differences of approach. The President won the White House partly by arguing that large multilateral trade deals had shattered the American economy, and he also has cast doubt on the existence of global warming and said the Paris accord would kill US jobs.
Merkel used the word “deplore” to describe her reaction to the US withdrawal from the Paris pact that Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama played a prominent role in negotiating. The German leader pointedly noted that the other 19 of the group’s 20 nation’s agreed the climate change agreement was “irreversible.”
The most significant moment of Trump’s trip was his more than two-hour meeting with Putin, in which he raised the issue of alleged Russian election meddling. But there were conflicting accounts from each side over whether the President had accepted Putin’s insistence that he had done nothing wrong.
A senior Trump administration official told CNN on Friday, however, that Trump did not accept Putin’s claim of noninterference.
The meeting will be interpreted by many of Trump’s critics as a sign that Russia will pay no real price for an alleged attempt to help defeat Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
But in geopolitical terms, it was also significant. Trump effectively welcomed Putin back to the international stage as an equal, validating the Russian leader’s core goal of reestablishing Russia’s lost influence. Just last month, the US and European Union respectively tightened and extended sanctions on Russia over its alleged incursion in Ukraine. European leaders hope the meeting between Trump and Putin does not mean a weakening of the US position on the Ukraine question, more than three years after Russia’s takeover of Crimea.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explained that the relationship between the world’s two top nuclear powers was too important to let the estrangement between Moscow and Washington linger any longer.
“How do we start making this work? How do we live with one another? How do we work with one another?” he said.
Trump did go some way to living up to his claims to being a master deal-maker presiding, along with Russia and Jordan, over a renewal of a ceasefire deal in southwestern Syria. The deal could lead to more US-Russia cooperation in the looming post-ISIS future in the shattered nation, but critics will see it as Washington acquiescing in Russia’s geopolitical influence in the region.
It is also clear that there are sharp differences emerging on what exactly the West, the block of liberal, democratic, globalized nations, that have dominated global politics since World War II, should stand for.
Trump’s speech in Warsaw on Thursday — already one of the seminal moments of his presidency — set out a strikingly different world view than his predecessors.
“The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” Trump said. “Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders?”
Those words, coming from a President who has tried to impose a ban on travel by residents of six predominantly Muslim nations to the US, and halted refugee admittances, appeared to be a clear critique of European leaders who have permitted Muslim immigration which critics say threatens Western values.
“Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?” he said in a remark that may have been aimed at Merkel herself, who let hundreds of thousands of refugees into Germany — a move harshly criticized by Trump during his campaign.
While Trump’s remarks could be popular in Poland and its right-wing government, they might have set him on a collision course with other allied leaders who view his actions and rhetoric as a far greater threat to Western values than immigration.
There is also frustration in Germany, and in Europe more generally, at the President’s repeated criticisms of the trade imbalance between Washington and Berlin, a sentiment that has come through in Merkel’s rhetoric as she campaigns for a fourth term in office ahead of September’s election.
While Trump was isolated from most of America’s allies at the G20, he smartly offered a valuable political gift to one leader, weakened British Prime Minister Theresa May.
The President said that he expected a trade deal that would bolster Britain after its exit from the EU could be agreed to “very, very quickly.”
The move stored up a favor, should he need May to return it, in the months to come.
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Posted: at 9:42 pm
President Trumps trip to Poland and the Group of 20 summit in Germany is yet another reminder that his presidency has the qualities of a three-ring circus, with activity coming from a variety of directions all at the same time and with no easy way in the moment to decide what is most important or credible.
Two events dominated the presidents European visit: his eagerly anticipated meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday and his tone-setting speech about the future of the West a day earlier in Warsaw. Each rightly drew worldwide attention. Both could prove to be potential foundational moments in the Trump presidency.
But there were other discordant moments that distracted from the big set pieces. They were a reminder of how difficult it is to find consistency or predictability in Trumps presidency. They included the presidents public equivocation about Russian interference in the 2016 election and his dissing of U.S. intelligence capabilities during a news conference in Poland, and then a bizarre and inaccurate tweet on Friday morning about John Podesta and Russian hacking hours before Trump was to see Putin.
[Podesta calls Trump our whack job president in response to error-filled tweet]
No recent meeting between world leaders came with such advance hype as the session between Trump and Putin. Thats because no relationship has been more fraught for Trump, because of Russias efforts to meddle in his behalf during the election backdropped by Trumps regular expressions of admiration for Putin.
This was more than an opportunity for Trump and Putin to get acquainted and to take a measure of each other, more than a moment for photo ops and handshakes and other trappings that often signify little. Dangers from North Koreas nuclear pursuits, the war in Syria (where the two agreed to try to enforce a cease-fire in the southwestern part of the country) and the overall fight against the Islamic State demanded serious and presumably frank discussions.
That their meeting lasted far longer than scheduled at two hours and 15 minutes, it was more than twice as long as planned was not a surprise. The leaders of the nations with the worlds biggest nuclear arsenals and with clear differences about many issues had a potential agenda that could have kept them together hours longer. The lengthy meeting was a constructive sign, given the state of the relationship.
What isnt known is what Trump, who is quick to judge the strengths and weaknesses of people, made of Putin. Did he emerge from their two hours of talks and sparring with a different impression of the Russian leader? Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the two had good chemistry. Trump is susceptible to flattery. Did he leave with a feeling that Putin was more trustworthy or less trustworthy than when he entered the room?
Then, of course, there was the elephant in the room, which was Russias role in the U.S. election. Pregame speculation questioned whether Trump would even address it face to face. He did, but there were conflicting accounts of what was said on that topic.
Tillerson said Trump had started the meeting by raising the issue of Russian interference and that Putin had offered what is his standard denial that the Russians did anything nefarious during the 2016 campaign.
Just how forcefully Trump pressed the issue Tillerson said the president brought it up more than once is so far unknown. There was no immediate indication of any softening of the sanctions imposed by the Obama administration in retaliation to the hacking, which has been a Russian goal. But the readouts suggested that Trump had no appetite for a sustained argument about Russias behavior.
As he has signaled in other interactions with other world leaders, Trump is transactional and therefore willing to look past such things as human rights abuses and other transgressions that have drawn rebukes from previous U.S. administrations as he pursues other goals. Whether that approach will produce desired results hasnt been given a full test, although it has not prompted the kind of tough action by China toward North Korea that Trump wants.
Tillerson told reporters in Hamburg that neither leader was eager to re-litigate the past, that their differences on Russian meddling were intractable and that each was looking for a way to put the relationship between these two adversaries on firmer and more positive footing.
On one key point, the accounts of the meeting were at odds. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Trump had listened to Putins denial of interference, had accepted those statements and had dismissed the investigation into Russian interference. Tillerson said Putin, despite the denials, had nonetheless agreed to talks about noninterference in U.S. elections.
[Kremlin defends account of Trump-Putin talks]
What Trump said in response to Putins denial is a critical question, given what he said the day before at a news conference. Asked by reporters on Thursday whether he fully accepted U.S. intelligence findings of Russian interference, Trump again declined to give a clear answer. I think it could very well have been Russia, but I think it could well have been other countries, he said. Trump added that a lot of people interfere and have been for some time. Nobody really knows for sure, he said.
If that is Trumps true belief, and he has said it often enough over many months to make it seem as though it is what he thinks, then how exactly did he raise the issue directly with Putin, and how forcefully did he press the case when Putin offered his denial? Having raised it with the Russian leader, is that the end of it for the president, at least in terms of what he plans to do either to punish the Russians or aggressively look to prevent a repeat performance in 2018 or 2020?
His true feelings may have come out on Friday morning when he tweeted, Everyone here is talking about why John Podesta refused to give the DNC server to the FBI and the CIA. Disgraceful! There are any number of inaccuracies in that tweet, and Podesta, on a road trip with his wife, pointed them out in a response published by The Washington Post. Trumps tweet was a reminder that, on matters related to Russia and the election, the president continues to look for diversions and digressions, raising more questions about what transpired in his meeting with Putin.
Trumps speech in Warsaw drew more positive reviews than his address to NATO when he was in Europe in May. In Poland, he unequivocally reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Article 5 of the NATO treaty dealing with common defense. In May, he pointedly did not.
His speech was nationalistic in tone, yet different from some in the past. Critics found the speech still too dark in tone. The Economist called it a departure from past administrations, and not that far from the American carnage language of his inaugural address, a philosophy that champions closed borders and that does not celebrate pluralistic values.
More positively, the Wall Street Journal said that, in his affirmative defense of the western tradition, Trump offered the core of what could become a governing philosophy. The editorial ended with this statement, It was an important and, we hope, a defining speech for the Trump presidency and for Donald Trump himself.
That, like the question of what Trump truly thinks about Putin, Russia and the interference in American democracy, is the persistent puzzle about this president. Are speeches like the one he gave in Warsaw genuine expressions of his views or more the assembled consensus of his advisers? Are his views expressed best in readouts by advisers from his private discussions with the likes of Putin, or by what he says during his infrequent news conferences or his more frequent tweets? Answers still to come.
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Posted: at 9:42 pm
HAMBURG, Germany President Donald Trump’s G-20 trip was dominated by news of his “very robust” first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin but other critical issues hinged on his ability to maneuver through diplomatic channels.
After a rough reception last month during the NATO summit, foreign policy experts predicted an icy reception for Trump especially after his recent policy pronouncements on climate and trade put him out of step with the other allies gathered in Germany.
But this international trip played better than that previous stop in Brussels, according to Jamie Fly, a senior fellow with the German Marshall Fund. Trump seemed to have “navigated some of the differences that everyone knew would exist with the Europeans,” Fly said.
Optics was but one of Trump’s challenges, however. These five issues are the top takeaways of the G-20 summit:
Tensions over North Korea were already high before the G-20, with urgency for a resolution over how to rein in the isolated nation renewed after an intercontinental ballistic missile test earlier in the week.
“Something has to be done about it,” Trump reiterated at the start of a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday, adding that he appreciates what’s been done by China regarding North Korea.
That’s a new tone from the one Trump took days earlier, chastising China for growing its trade relations with the regime of Kim Jong Un.
“So much for China working with us but we had to give it a try!” Trump tweeted Wednesday.
The Xi-Trump meeting lasted over an hour and a half, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters in a plane gaggle en route to Washington. It would have lasted longer, he said, “if we didn’t have to get pulled out to leave.”
The White House strategy in North Korea has counted heavily on a helping hand from the Chinese, but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described their actions Friday as “uneven.”
The United States has kept the pressure on Beijing sanctioning a Chinese bank last week and excluding China from a trilateral meeting with leaders from South Korea and Japan prior to the start of the G-20. That meeting yielded a joint statement from the three countries, pressing for the early adoption of a new U.N. Security Council resolution that would put additional sanctions on North Korea to show “that there are serious consequences for its destabilizing, provocative, and escalatory actions.”
U.S. bombers practiced their attack capabilities at a training range in South Korea on Friday, NBC News learned a clear show of force to the North Korean regime just days after they tested the intercontinental ballistic missile.
Local media reported that the bombers flew close to the demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea, but they did not cross demarcation lines.
Perhaps the most-watched policy piece of this summit of world leaders was on climate change as it related to the Paris Climate Agreement. After a climate change session, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters Trump participated and “even made a contribution” to discussions.
But by the end of the two-day summit, America was officially standing alone.
The United States was singled out in a G-20 statement for its stance on climate issues, and the other countries took the uncharacteristic step of noting America’s lone position in rebuffing the accord.
“We take note of the decision of the United States of America to withdraw from the Paris Agreement,” the end-of-summit document read. “The United States of America announced it will immediately cease the implementation of its current nationally-determined contribution and affirms its strong commitment to an approach that lowers emissions while supporting economic growth and improving energy security needs.”
The other G-20 leaders called the Paris Agreement “irreversible” and French President Emmanuel Macron announced an end-of-year summit in France to fete the accord’s two-year signing anniversary.
But the White House balked at the idea that the statement was done to brush aside the United States.
National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn told reporters on Air Force One that “it was never a situation where there was isolated forces” as “everyone accepted” the U.S. decision to get out of the Paris Agreement early on.
Another instance that set the U.S. apart from its G-20 partners came on trade, with leaders giving an early rebuttal to possible U.S.-imposed tariffs on steel imports a decision the White House is expected to move on soon.
On Friday, European leaders were direct in their opposition. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker promised, metaphorically, that “we are prepared to take up arms if need be,” but hoped it wouldn’t be “actually necessary.”
President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a panel discussion on the second day of the G20 summit on July 8, 2017, in Hamburg, Germany. Pool / Getty Images
Experts told NBC News before the G-20 that
In closing out the summit in her home country, Merkel told reporters that G-20 leaders were clear that markets must be open, while fighting against protectionism and unfair practices.
Fly, who served on the National Security Council and in the Pentagon when President George W. Bush was in office, said the Trump administration should be cautious on the pending tariffs decision.
He told NBC News that it needs to “make sure that they’re not, at the end of the day, going after countries that are really not the root of the problem on that issue.”
Trade tensions, he noted, are “added to all the other emotions about Trump and about Paris Climate Agreement withdrawal that the imposition of tariffs that affect our European allies would have a very negative impact on Trans-Atlantic relations.”
Tillerson announced Friday that the United States, in tandem with Russia and Jordan, agreed to a de-escalation in southwest Syria, a “first indication of the U.S. and Russia being able to work together in Syria.”
National security adviser H.R. McMaster said Saturday that a “de-escalation zone” will go into effect noon local time (5 a.m. ET) Sunday.
But there have been ceasefire attempts before amid the country’s civil war and questions remain over who will be monitoring the ISIS-ravaged region.
“At the end of the day, this is Syria,” one senior State Department official said Friday, briefing reporters anonymously to better discuss details of the ceasefire deal and acknowledging the complications there.
The question also remains of what to do with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Tillerson has said of the country’s future: “There will be a transition away from the Assad family.”
The White House pledged $50 million to a new World Bank initiative geared toward breaking down barriers to female economic empowerment.
The introduction of the Ivanka Trump-backed group drew Merkel, Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the podium to praise efforts to help women entrepreneurs around the world achieve greater success with the help of loans, mentorships and policy reform.
Ivanka Trump’s White House role is nebulous, but she has consistently focused on projects that support female economic advancement. Her role in this particular initiative would not be one of a fundraiser, a senior administration official insisted, but instead, one of a global champion and advocate.
Posted: at 9:42 pm
Ivanka Trump takes Donald Trump seat at G20 leaders' table
In an unusual move Ivanka Trump briefly took her father Donald's seat at a summit of world leaders on Saturday. The US president had stepped away for a meeting with the Indonesian leader during the G20 meeting. Ms Trump is an adviser to her father, but …
Donald Trump: Ivanka's life would be easier if she wasn't my daughter
Donald Trump says he's made Ivanka's life harder
Opinion: Ivanka covers for Donald Trump at G20 meeting
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Posted: at 9:42 pm
Poland’s first lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda, second right, reaches her hand to U.S. First Lady Melania Trump as U.S. President Donald Trump reaches his hand for a handshake after his speech in Krasinski Square, with Polish President Andrzej Duda standing right, in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, July 6, 2017. A video clip of the encounter prompted claims that Kornhauser-Duda snubbed Trump, but a longer video showed she shook Melania Trump’s hand and then President Trump’s.(Photo: Alik Keplicz, AP)
President Trump believes he has found an internationalally in his crusade against the media.
Via Twitter, he pledged Saturday to fight the #FakeNews with Polish President Andrzej Duda, whose right-wing party has been accused of a crackdown on a free press.
Last year, Duda signed a law putting state-owned media under government control because according to an aide he didnt believe they were objective.
Trump was responding to a Thursday tweet from Duda after a widely circulated video appeared to show Polish first lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda ignoring Trumps handshake, and shaking first lady Melania Trumps hand insteadduring the first couples trip to Poland.
Tweeting in English, Duda wrote:Contrary to some surprising reports my wife did shake hands with Mrs. and Mr. Trump @POTUS after a great visit. Let’s FIGHT FAKE NEWS.
A longer video showed Kornhauser-Duda shaking Melania Trumps hand and then President Trumps.
At Trumps Warsaw speech, Duda loyalists shouted Fake News! in English at passing American reporters.
Trumps dissatisfaction with the media has been a conversation topic with other world leaders.
During a visit to Washington last week, South Korean President Moon Jae-in joked to Trump that he also suffers a bit from fake news.
And Russian President Vladimir Putin shared a laugh with Trump before their one-on-one meeting Friday when Putin pointed to journalists and asked, These are the ones who insulted you?
Trump responded, These are the ones, youre right about that.
Contributing: Gregory Korte
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Posted: at 9:41 pm
The designer jeans maker filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday, asking for a chance to reinvent itself as it grapples with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of debt and declining sales, according to court documents.
According to court documents, the company had $534.7 million worth of liabilities on its books, but only $243.3 million in assets.
There is some good news. True Religion said in a press release that the company has already secured a deal with its creditors to reduce its debt load by $350 million. In exchange, the company’s biggest creditors will receive large ownership stakes in the company.
Related: Retail train wreck continues as sales plunge at Macy’s, Kohl’s
True Religion will stay afloat throughout the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, the company says, and it expects it will take three or four months for the court to approve its restructuring plan.
In order to improve its outlook, the company plans to “close or consolidate underperforming store locations, and renegotiate lease terms” in order to save money.
Another cornerstone of the restructuring plan is to “invest in growing our digital footprint,” CEO John Ermatinger said in a statement.
True Religion is not the first retailer to be upended by the rise of e-commerce.
Traditional department stores and other brick-and-mortar outlets have struggled as digital giants like Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) have soared.
Related: Retail bloodbath continues as bankruptcy filings pile up
So far this year, Amazon’s stock hit a new record high, while more than 300 other storefront retailers have filed for bankruptcy and the industry has seen tens of thousands of layoffs.
True Religion entered the fashion scene before online apparel sales were common. The company was founded in Los Angeles in 2002 and rose to popularity as designer jeans became a pop culture phenomenon. The True Religion brand was splayed across fashion magazines and sprinkled into the lyrics of hip-hop music.
But today, True Religion’s popularity has petered out, and the company’s sales have been in decline for years, according to court documents.
True Religion’s chief financial officer, Dalibor Snyder, wrote in court papers that the company has worked to “aggressively cut costs,” by closing stores and issuing layoffs in an effort to mitigate losses. But those measures weren’t enough.
Bankruptcy protection and restructuring was the next step. Snyder says if the plan is successful, True Religion will reduce its debt load by 72%.
CNNMoney (New York) First published July 5, 2017: 12:57 PM ET
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Posted: at 9:41 pm
The hedge-fund enclave of Greenwich, on the Connecticut Gold Coast, is about 100 miles and a world away from the state capital.
But the fiscal crisis in Hartford, the historic center of the American insurance industry, is fast becoming more representative than mansions or yachts of the wealthiest state in the U.S. The city is edging closer than ever to the breaking point, waiting for the financially troubled state government to step in.
It may seem crazy that a place as rich as the Nutmeg State, which counts among its residents hedge-funds masters like Ray Dalio and Steven A. Cohen and legions of Wall Street bankers, could be in such fiscal trouble. Last year, the per-capita income there was $71,033, the highest in the nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
For all that, state-worker pensions have been underfunded for decades. Tax increases aimed at closing deficits have put a strain on an economy struggling from the loss of high-paying finance jobs, leaving it among the few that still havent recovered from the recession. The hedge fund industry fell on hard times, with about 1,060 shuttering globally last year. UBS Group AG abandoned the worlds largest trading floor in Stamford after the financial crisis, and the Royal Bank of Scotland downsized its office there. Pension, debt and health-care costs just kept growing.
Theres a limit to how much you can tax and theres a limit to how much you can cut before you damage the viability and attractiveness of the city,Mayor Luke Bronin said in May. Right now, from a fiscal standpoint, you have a capital city fighting with its hands behind its back.”
Like many other local governments across the country, Hartford — city of Mark Twain and the young John Pierpont Morgan — has been grappling with budget problems for years. On the same day that Illinois lawmakers finally scraped together a long-overdue budget, Hartford hired the law firm Greenberg Traurig LLP to evaluate its options, which include bankruptcy. It would be the first prominent U.S. municipality to seek protection from its creditors since Detroit did so in 2013.
As for Connecticut, it faces a projected two-year deficit of $5 billion that lawmakers havent figured out how to close, even though the new fiscal year began on July 1.
In Hartford, the woes have been piling up for a while. Like Puerto Rico, which filed a record-setting bankruptcy in May, or even Greece, the city came to the edge in the usual way: slowly, then suddenly. The population declined 23 percent between 1960 and 2000 and has remained stagnant ever since. A third of its residents live in poverty, a higher share than in Baltimore or Newark. From 2010 to 2014, the metropolitan area saw the fifth-biggest decline in employers in the nation, according to the Economic Innovation Group, a Washington-based public policy organization.
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Hartfords tax base of about $4.1 billion is about two-thirds that of neighbor West Hartford, which has far fewer residents, because half of the property — state buildings, hospitals, universities, non-profit agencies — is tax-exempt. Hartford has the highest property tax rate in the state and faces a $50 million deficit, nearly 10 percent of its budget. The citys credit rating may be downgraded deeper into junk by Moodys Investors Service.
Uninsured Hartford bonds maturing in 2024 traded at yields of more than 6 percent in late June, compared with about 4.4 percent in January, as investors jitters mounted. The city has $672 million in debt, including $228 million of uninsured bonds, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It also guarantees about $70 million in debt for a minor-league baseball stadium downtown.
Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
Governor Dannel Malloy and Republican and Democratic leaders in the legislature agree the bankruptcy of the states capital isnt another negative headline they need. General Electric Co. has decamped from Fairfield to Boston, and last week Aetna Inc. said it was moving its corporate headquarters from Hartford, where it has been since 1853, to New York.About 250 jobs are going with it, though thousands will stay in town.
The state needs a budget that supports Hartford, its residents and its employers, said Chris McClure, a spokesman for Malloy. In the absence of action by the General Assembly on a budget vote, its entirely appropriate that the city explore all its options and prepare for every contingency.”
Greenberg Traurigs team will be led by Nancy Mitchell, a co-chair of the firms restructuring practice, the city said in a statement. When Hartford was soliciting proposals from firms that specialize in bankruptcy, Council President Thomas Clarke told the local newspaper that looking into court protection from creditors would only be a last ditch option.
They will be working with us to examine all options for putting the city of Hartford on a sustainable path,” the mayor said in a statement. As we start a new fiscal year without a state budget and with significant uncertainty, we will have the advice and counsel of an experienced and highly respected restructuring firm.”
In 2016, Bronin, a Democrat, took over a city that had been delaying its fiscal reckoning by pushing debt payments into the future, draining reserves and resorting to one-time measures, such as selling a parking garage, while its debt swelled by 52 percent from 2011 to 2015, according to Moodys figures.
Since taking office, hes cut 100 jobs and renegotiated leases and energy contracts. Bronins been less successful in getting concessions from unions: The citys fiscal 2017 budget assumed $16.5 million of concessions, the bulk of which havent materialized.
Hartford managed to strike a deal with its firefighters that saves about $4 million a year through 2020 by freezing pay increases, increasing pension contributions, lowering salaries for new hires and requiring employees to pay more for health care.
The city could renegotiate labor contracts and cut debt and pensions in bankruptcy, as a handful of cities have done since the recession. But it would need the governors consent to file for Chapter 9.
Bronin is lobbying for the state to fully fund a program that compensates local governments for revenue lost to tax-exempt properties, which alone would provide enough money to close next years deficit, and has joined with cities pushing to raise Connecticuts 6.35 percent sales tax to 6.99 percent to provide more aid.
He also persuaded Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Travelers Cos. and Aetna to pledge $50 million to the city over five years as part of a comprehensive and sustainable solution for Hartford.”
Posted: at 9:41 pm
Wall Street Journal (subscription)
Lenders Seek to Force Fyre Festival Into Bankruptcy
Wall Street Journal (subscription)
People who lent money to Fyre Festival before it collapsed are now trying to force the company that ran the event into bankruptcy following the arrest of William Billy McFarland, the man behind the ill-fated music festival. Hyped as the cultural …