Tag Archives: Goldman Sachs

Niira Radia, Mukesh Ambani, NDTV & Prannoy Roy

In conversation number #132 in the infamous Niira Radia tapes, the lobbyist whose name has become synonymous with the 2G scam, talks to M.K. Venu, then of The Economic Times, in July 2009:

Venu: Is Manoj (Modi) is here (in Delhi) today also, no?

Radia: Yeah, he is here, he is leaving in the afternoon, later part of the afternoon. We are meeting Prannoy (Roy of NDTV) today. We need to support Prannoy, you know… We feel it needs to be supported.

Now, the penny drops.

Money Life, the personal finance magazine run by the investigative journalist Sucheta Dalal, reports that the American investment firm D.E. Shaw has picked up a 14.2% stake in NDTV, providing an exit to another blue chip investor, Goldman Sachs, which held an equivalent stake.

Reports Money Life:

“Interestingly, the D.E. Shaw investment in NDTV has happened in less than two weeks since it joined hands with Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) to enter the Indian financial services sector. Now we know that Mukesh Ambani has a soft spot for NDTV’s promoters and anchors and that they had previously approached him for an investment.”

Manoj Modi is Mukesh Ambani’s Man Friday. Niira Radia represented Mukesh Ambani and counted NDTV Imagine among her many clients before the 2G scam broke.

M.J. Akbar‘s Sunday Guardian reported in March that Radia was behind the January 2010 launch of a book by bureaucrat-turned-politician N.K. Singh in London, for which Ambani, Venu and NDTV’s Barkha Dutt travelled together on the same plane.

Read the full article: NDTV continues to find buyers

Listen to the conversation: #132 M.K. Venu: July 09, 2009


Who, why, when, how, where, what, what the…

screen-bill.mao-newsweek newsweek copertina newsweek

The new, redesigned Newsweek has had plenty of what can only be mildly termed “negative fan following”.

The designer Juan Antonio Giner wrote recently that it was time to “forget Newsweek“.

“It’s irrelevant. Awful design. Cheap opinions. No reporting. No news. No quality. No necessary content. And… a newsroom of hundreds. For what? Fat newsroom for a dying magazine.”

Vir Sanghvi, the former editor of the now-defunct Sunday, Bombay and Imprint magazines, called it “uninfluential, unreadable and unprofitable“:

“The desire to emulate The Economist has made the new Newsweek less dependent on correspondents and more focused on columnists. That may not be a bad idea in itself but the problem is that the columns are dull and are so poorly laid out that you never want to read them. My guess is that either Newsweek will rethink this format or it will finally close down.”

The Economist bug is reflected in the desire to explain everything that happens in the world.

Who, why, what, where, when, which, how, what next, what the….. may be the fundamentals of journalism, but when done week after boring week from the ramparts of the desktop, it can get very predictable, resulting in an “analysis paralysis”.

Below are 45 headlines, straplines and introductions from just the last eight issues of the international edition of Newsweek (dated July 13 to September 14) edited by the Indian-born policy wonk Fareed Zakaria, and they present to the reader the scary spectacle of a bunch of smug know-it-alls, who have cracked every problem on earth.

Every problem except how to make their own magazine*.

1) How Russian and US interests align

2) What we don’t know can hurt us

3) How China’s consumer society is built by the state

4) Helping Africa save itself

5) Why ‘steady’ lost

6) How Obama looked at the Kremlin

7) Why the economic crisis is hitting the rich hardest

8) Why the crisis is good for some powers that be

9) How the crisis only makes Washington stronger

10) How the mighty have fallen

11) Why the GOP is falling out of love with gun-toting, churchgoing, working-class whites

12) Why France needs Turkey in the EU

13) How India will define its grand strategy

14) Why Japan isn’t rising

15) What lurks beneath

16) Why polaroid is the new black

17) Why the US will emerge from the crisis on top

18) How Tony Blair came to be Europe’s choice

19) Why good web sites shouldn’t be free

20) Why it’s even worse than we feared

21) Why fears of a Muslim takeover are all wrong

22) Why the United States will come out of the crisis on top

23) How crisis will kill off the empire

24) Why space junk is a nuclear threat

25) How do we move forward, not back?

26) How come Goldman is making billions and I’m still broke?

27) How crisis will make the EU stronger

28) How we filled the skies with junk

29) Why bad times could make America’s top schools even stronger

30) How to solve the education crisis—and why more money alone isn’t the answer

31) How Koizumi killed Japan’s ruling party

32) Why IBM is profiting despite the crisis

33) Why goofy glasses are in your future

34) What’s good for IBM is as good as it gets for America

35) Why Japan’s new rulers will only solidify into the second rank

36) What you need to know: alient exist, settlements aren’t the problem, elections aren’t the answer, and more

37) How Ted confounded the Kennedy myth

38) How Russia sees the world

39) How football went East

40) What Teddy can’t teach us

41) Why, years after the Cold War, the Kremlin’s still obsessed with getting respect

42) How nuclear weapons may make the world a safer place

43) How do you break the internet?

44) Why Japan’s new leaders aren’t so scary

45) What to do if jobs don’t come back

* Disclosures apply

Also read: Fareed Zakaria: Will this man be the next US Secretary of State?

Tina Brown: Magazines, like mushrooms, should grow in the dark

Loans at low interest rates for photographers

It takes some chutzpah for a bank to utter the word “integrity” in the august company of AIG, Lehman Brothers, Merill Lynch and Goldman Sachs. The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) does so, but surprisingly uses the stout shoulders of the paparazzi to tell the world that it has it.

How not to ask right questions (an ongoing series)

When he made Sicko, Michael Moore got into a flap with CNN on the mainstream media’s inability to ask tough, searching questions.

“Just apologize to the American people and to the families of the troops for not doing your job four years ago. We wouldn’t be in this war if you had done your job. Come on. Just admit it. Just apologize to the American people.”

Now, Moore returns with Capitalism: A Love Story.

Again, you wonder whether the slowdown and recession and the bailout would have happened had the media asked the right questions.

Also read: Michael Moore takes on CNN’s Sanjay Gupta

Why a music magazine has to take on Goldman Sachs

Interview of the year: Jon Stewart takes on Jim Cramer

How come media did not spot Satyam scam?

When a music magazine takes on Goldman Sachs

It is probably applicable to other spheres of journalism as well, but it is surely no exaggeration to state that business journalism has completely lost the ability to tell it like it is.

Unless, it is some small, worthless, unimportant target.

Reporters, writers and editors, fearful of losing “access”, are held hostage by PR, freebies, and worse. Publishers and proprietors, trying to squeeze every dollar, are indebted to advertising. Etc.

Result: readers, viewers, listeners, surfers are served up numbers and theories held up by hope.

Little wonder it took a comedian (Jon Stewart) to buttonhole a “mad” CNBC anchor (Jim Cramer).

Little wonder it has taken a music magazine to throw light on the “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

Take a bow, Matt Taibbi (in picture).

The Rolling Stone columnist, who has been compared to Hunter S. Thompson, sticks a long, sharp knife into the investment bank in the latest issue of the magazine, calling it a “planet-eating Death Star of political influence”, accusing it of engineering every major market manipulation since the Great Depression of 1929.

The internet bubble, the housing bubble, the oil-price bubble, and the coming “carbon-credit” bubble (hello, Jairam Ramesh) are all the handiwork of Goldman Sachs, writes Taibbi, accusing the company of an incestuous old boy network to shut out competitors, prevent regulation, and stay out of trouble in perpetuity.

“They achieve this using the same playbook over and over again. The formula is relatively simple: Goldman positions itself in the middle of a speculative bubble, selling investments they know are crap. Then they hoover up vast sums from the middle and lower floors of society with the aid of a crippled and corrupt state that allows it to rewrite the rules in exchange for the relative pennies the bank throws at political patronage. Finally, when it all goes bust, leaving millions of ordinary citizens broke and starving, they begin the entire process over again, riding in to rescue us all by lending us back our own money at interest, selling themselves as men above greed, just a bunch of really smart guys keeping the wheels greased.”

Goldman Sachs responded to Taibbi’s article through Reuters blogger Felix Salmon, calling the Rolling Stone piece “hysterical”; “a compilation of every conspiracy theory ever dreamed up about Goldman Sachs”.

“We reject the assertion that we are inflators of bubbles and profiteers in busts, and we are painfully conscious of the importance of being a force for good,” Lucan Van Praag, Goldman Sachs’ top flack, writes.

Matt Taibbi responds in kind, answering every spineless reporter/editor’s feeble excuse about “giving the other side a chance”, about being “balanced” and “objective”.

“My feeling is that companies like Goldman Sachs have a virtual monopoly on mainstream-news public relations; for every one reporter like me, or like far more knowledgeable critics like Tyler Durden, there are a thousand hacks out there willing to pimp Goldman’s viewpoint on things in the front pages and ledes of the major news organizations. And there are probably another thousand poor working stiffs who are nudged into pushing the Goldman party line by their editors and superiors….

“Goldman has its alumni pushing its views from the pulpit of the U.S. Treasury, the NYSE, the World Bank, and numerous other important posts; it also has former players fronting major TV shows. They have the ear of the president if they want it. Given all of this, I personally think it’s absurd to talk about the need for “balance” in every single magazine and news article. I understand that some people feel differently, but that’s my take on things.”

There have been even wild accusations of “anti-Semitism” in Taibbi’s piece (he is Arab-American) against “the most prototypically Jewish firm around.”

Taibbi has also been accused of picking on Goldman Sachs when there were plenty of other bandicoots with their hands in the loot, like, say, Morgan Stanley.

“Why didn’t we write about Morgan? Because we didn’t. Because it’s your turn, you assholes. Maybe later someone will tell the story of the other banks, but for now, while most ordinary people are only just learning about the workings of the financial innovation era that blew up in their faces last year, the top dog in that universe is going to be first in line to get the special treatment.”

Read the Rolling Stone article: The great American bubble machine

Read Matt Taibbi’s blog: Taibblog

Read an interview with Matt Taibbi

Visit Goldman Sachs’ unofficial blog