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April 27, 2011

Numbers up: The New York Times Is Counting Wealthy Chinese, In A Too-Short Story

Noticing New York

This week it was impossible not to notice that the New York Times was prominently featuring the number “585" for a short little blurb of a story featured in its "News of the Week in Review" section. Turns out they were counting wealthy Chinese. (See: Prime Number, Published: April 23, 2011.) The Times was taking note that 585 is the estimated number, in the thousands, of people in China who this year will have investable assets of $1.5 million or more. This was according to a study by Bain & Company, a Mitt Romney connected consulting firm.

The number, the subject and the calculation couldn’t help but remind us all of another number, “498" which is the number of Chinese that Forest City Ratner is soliciting to “invest” $538,000 in order get American government issued green cards that Forest City Ratner is being allowed to sell more or less exclusively for its own private benefit. After some time (five years), the Chinese are supposed to get back less money ($500,000) which, other than their green cards, constitutes the return on their investment provided the deal Forest City Ratner has structured for them doesn’t tank. This all has to do with something known as the federal EB5 program, a program Congress created supposedly to produce jobs in the U.S. but which Forest City Ratner is taking advantage of in a non-job producing way. Essentially, the Ratner firm is abusing the EB-5 program in a way that Congress is now letting it be abused: Ratner is selling United States green cards to rake in cheap capital without producing jobs.

In other words, if, as reported in the Times, there are 585,000 Chinese who have $1.5 million or more to invest, 498 of them, or one out of every 1,197 of them are expected to pony up $538,000 of that available $1.5 million to pay Forest City Ratner for green cards.

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Posted by eric at April 27, 2011 9:33 AM