Earlier this year, during some of the darkest days of the pandemic, bestselling author and former hedge-fund manager James Altucher (also a former MarketWatch columnist ), declared New York City “dead forever” as its residents come to grips with the reality of the coronavirus.
“I don’t benefit from saying any of this,” he said. “I love NYC. I was born there. I’ve lived there forever. I STILL live there. I love everything about NYC. I want 2019 back. But this time is different.”
The New York Times had taken a similar stance just a couple months earlier, asking its readers, amid an exodus of a some 420,000 residents between March and May, the “agonizing” question: “ Is New York City worth it anymore? ”
Fast forward to this week, and former Goldman Sachs (NYS:GS) boss Lloyd Blankfein, currently enjoying “a gap year” away from Wall Street, was much more sanguine about the Big Apple’s prospects in 2021 when he offered this message of hope at the annual benefit for UJA-Federation of New York , a Jewish philanthropy.
The event, long one of the biggest fundraisers in the country, has brought in $31 million so far even in its virtual form, according to Bloomberg News .
Blankfein tried to keep the mood light as he logged in from his home on Long Island, cracking wise about the cocktail franks and egg rolls that are typically on offer at the Midtown hotel venue, where he’s served as the event’s host since 2018.
“For those of you who think the food at the Hilton is better than what you have at home, my sympathy,” he was quoted by Bloomberg as saying.
But he pivoted to the gravity of the current situation in New York and the rest of the country, where coronavirus cases are again spiking and job losses continue to mount amid hopes of a vaccine.
“The pandemic and ensuing economic crisis have made so many ordinarily vulnerable people even more so, and, for those on the edge, pushed them over,” Blankfein said. “Hundreds of thousands of people in our city can’t put food on the table, they’ve lost their jobs, they’re struggling to survive.”
UJA has distributed $52 million in emergency aid so far during the coronavirus pandemic, Bloomberg News reported.