Tuesday, April 26, 2011

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

“585." “585?”

This week is 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, 489 of them, or one out of every 1,197 of this them are expected to pony up $538,000 of that available $1.5 million to pay Forest City Ratner for green cards.

The Times article seems rather too short in that it simply doesn’t bring the numbers home. If the Times is interested in how many millionaires there are in China mightn’t it then be interested in what portion of that elite cohort is sending their money to the United States particularly if such a substantial portion of all that money is coming into this country in a federal program that is being abused?

Fact is though, the Times has been passing up (virtually ignoring) the EB-5 abuse story and all its ramifications that among other things would necessarily lead them to reporting some unflattering things about Forest City Ratner, their business partner when it came to building the New York Times headquarters for which, like Ratner’s Atlantic Yards mega-monopoly, eminent domain was used.

As pointed out in an earlier Noticing New York post, the Times mangled its last report about the non-job-creating EB-5 programs use in connection with Atlantic Yards:
Perhaps what mightily facilitates the ease with which the EB-5 program is abused is that it is not known by any formal title, like the American Jobs Creation Act, leaving the New York Times to struggle as it refers to Ratner’s `enrollment’ of “498 Asian investors” in “an obscure federal program that grants [“sells” is a better word] green cards in exchange for a $500,000 investment in a job-producing American project,” thereby stumbling compliantly into having referred to `job-production’ which is, as discussed, actually nonexistent.
In other words, this Times story made it sound as if Ratner is using the program to create American jobs, which isn't a fair report of what is actually happening.

(BTW: Neither 585 nor 489 is a "prime number"-- That's aside from the fact that the 489 Chinese investors won't prime the American economy.)

To catch up with more stories about the EB-5 program here are some links:
Atlantic Yards Report is the only media source that has been providing complete and thorough coverage of the program with a great deal of original investigative work involving procuring and examining original documents (which often involves translating them from the Chinese). To work backward from Atlantic Yards Report's latest post start here: Monday, April 25, 2011, Kunpeng, consultancy promoting AY to immigrant investors in China, among firms willing to deceive regulators, according to newspaper investigation

• A complete list of Atlantic Yards Report’s coverage on EB-5 is available by clicking here.

• And here is Noticing New York Coverage:
• Friday, October 8, 2010, Putting It Together: Who Should Be Selling Green Cards?

• Wednesday, October 6, 2010, Translation: Bruce Ratner Wants To Swindle 498 Chinese Millionaires?

• Saturday, March 26, 2011, The American Jobs Creation Act, Job Creation That Wasn’t: What Happens When Government Doesn’t Manage Its Programs

• Sunday, October 10, 2010, Noting One Oddity, The Times, in Another, Neglects Obvious Explanations: Ratner’s EB-5 Green Cards Sale; A Reason For the Nets To Go To China, And. .

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