The Weekly Quill — Quantitatively Tightening

Record Global Debt in a Time of Falling Liquidity

“Heav’n has no rage, like love to hatred turn’d, nor Hell a fury like a woman scorn’d”
The Mourning Bride, 1697
By the time he was 30, the Tennessee Williams of his time welcomed being washed out with the 17th century. There’s no other way to describe the career path abandoned by the English dramatist, William Congreve. His early retirement owed to the nuanced difference between dramatists and playwrights. An online search for “dramatist” yields a multitude of references to it being a mere synonym of “playwright,” as in any old person who writes plays. I prefer American playwright and Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Thornton Wilder’s description: “A dramatist is one who believes that the pure event, an action involving human beings, is more arresting than any comment that can be made upon it.” Indeed, the Greek derivation of drama is ‘to do.’

Congreve’s writing is so exceptional, his work is often attributed to William Shakespeare. But the man who penned the timeless line quoted above was born in 1670, more than a half century after the Bard of Avon had passed this world. By then, tragic comedy had been displaced by satire. The public reveled in ridiculing the high moral and social standards of the day. Congreve delivered and then some. His first smash hit was The Old Bachelor, which ran for a then unprecedented fortnight. The main character is sullen and old and, as such, feigns a disdain for women. Of course, he falls in love with who he believes to be a maiden, not knowing her to be a mistress. Only after being trapped into marrying her does he ascertain her true identity by way of his acquaintances’ mocking jeers. Congreve’s subsequent The Double Dealer and Love for Love kept him on top in an entertainment world dominated by the theater in the absence of other mediums. He was a rock star in his time.

The world today best remembers Congreve — the archetypal dramatist, who infused himself into the roles he wrote — for 1697’s The Mourning Bride. The original “scorned” woman, a character vividly named Zara, became entangled in a love triangle from which she emerged the vanquished and vengeful. The play was embraced as England’s greatest tragedy for the better part of the next century. Congreve’s understanding of the potential for contentiousness between the sexes produced a handful of mantras that also survive and will be familiar – “‘Tis better to be left than never to have been loved,” “You must not kiss and tell,” and ‘Married in haste, we repent at leisure.”

The Weekly Quill — Rural Realities

Farmland:  The Buried Hard Asset

“What we do in life echoes in eternity”
David Franzoni, Gladiator

“When distinguished aristocrats died, their families would hold graveside bouts between enslaved people or condemned prisoners as a kind of macabre eulogy for the virtues the person had demonstrated in life. According to the Roman writers Tertullian and Festus, since the Romans believed that human blood helped purify the deceased person’s soul, these contests may have also acted as a crude substitute for human sacrifice. The funeral games later increased in scope during the reign of Julius Caesar, who staged bouts between hundreds of gladiators in honor of his deceased father and daughter. The spectacles proved hugely popular, and by the end of the 1st century B.C., government officials began hosting state-funded games as a way of currying favor with the masses.”

Not all early gladiator contests were as well choreographed as those in the masterfully made film, Gladiator. As explained above by History’s Evan Andrews, while the first privately organized Roman gladiator contests, which began in 264 B.C. were grounded in a death being offered for the dead’s attonment, not all contests had such violent endings. Referees could halt contests if a serious injury had been sustained; crowds could bore if two opponents were too fairly matched and fought on and on. And on rare occasions, after dazzling the crowds, two warriors could leave the colosseum on foot, with their honor intact.

In general, there were other professions that promised appreciably higher longevity; a gladiators’ life expectancy was thought to have been into their mid-20s. It is true that a handful of Roman emperors — Caligula, Titus and Hadrian – took to the arena. But the conditions were highly controlled featuring dull blades for the unfortunate chosen challenger. The truest aspect of the 2000 Russell Crowe epic involved the deranged Emperor Commodus, purported to have been an expert marksman known to wow the crowded masses by spearing bears and panthers…from the safety of a raised platform. The bouts the madman did take on with “rivals” were really staged murders involving inexperienced fighters and, in some cases, an unlucky and unarmed member of the audience. According to Andrews, “When he inevitably won the contests, Commodus made sure to reward himself with the massive sum of one million Roman sesterces.”

The Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role was awarded to Crowe, in part, because he was a man of the earth. The movie’s opening scene is a closeup of a man’s strong hand skimming across the tops of a wheat field ripe to be harvested. The symbolism runs deep – the knowing touch engenders trust between the unknown figure and the audience. For there is no richer deed in this world than that conveyed by one who provides for our basic needs. A heart can be no purer than that of man who is one with nature.

In the coming months, we will speak often of wheat and other crops that are essential to the population of this planet, which is expected to surpass the 8-billion milestone this year. Food is expected to be a source of strife as the ramifications of a compromised season in the world’s breadbasket manifest. It is sad to write these words, but there will be some who starve; the fact of which we will be made aware as no famine in world history. It’s plausible to envision the strife these harrowing circumstances will produce given the buying power exerted by the world’s most populous and biggest food importing country – China.

The Weekly Quill — Dollar Dialysis

A Global Economy Incapable of Regulating Itself

Define “vital.” Without a heart, we are soulless beings as the blood circulating in our bodies is arrested. Without a mind, we lack vision and the capacity to envision; we are bereft of life on an existential level. But what of those bean-shaped organs, the kidneys? After all, the normal lives lived by kidney donors shows that we only really need one of them. How vital can they be? It would seem the answer is, “very” if you’re on the receiving end of that donation. The very idea of “waste” implies it isn’t healthy if it sticks around. And while we know the body is 90% water, crossing north of that threshold isn’t feasible either. Additionally, kidneys are essential when children are growing as they are the organ tasked with the production of the all-important Vitamin D and the building of strong bones. Call them a multivariate factory as kidneys also control the production of red blood cells. So, yes. They are vital.Before 1945, the loss of kidney function promised a painful demise. Building on his predecessors’ innovations, the Netherlands’ Willem Kolff was the first to buy victims of kidney failure the gift of time. In 1913, three scientists “dialyzed” anesthetized animals by directing their blood outside the body and through tubes of semipermeable membranes made from Collodion, a material based on cellulose. It wasn’t until the summer of 1924 that Georg Haas first performed a dialysis procedure on a human being. The catch was that the patient and subsequent ones still died. The inhibitor: Hirudin, an anticoagulant element in the saliva of leeches which led to complications arising from humans being allergic to different species’ bodily fluids, which was not adequately purified.

Heparin, the universal anticoagulant in mammals, eventually fixed this; it’s still used today. But it wasn’t until Kolff altered the configuration and makeup of the “dialyzer” that a 67-year-old patient with acute kidney failure was given additional years to live. According to Fresenius Medical Care, “Kolff’s rotating drum kidney used membranous tubes made from a new cellulose-based material known as cellophane that was actually used in the packaging of food. During the treatment, the blood-filled tubes were wrapped around a wooden drum that rotated through an electrolyte solution known as ‘dialysate.’ As the membranous tubes passed through the bath, the laws of physics caused the uremic toxins to pass into this rinsing liquid.”

If such a thing as an economics M.D. existed, they’d likely prescribe dollar dialysis for the world’s financial system. While 80% of global transactions take place in greenbacks, it appears that an excess of enriched dollars has overwhelmed the patient’s ability to be cleansed within by getting them out.

The Weekly Quill — Seeking: Alternative to Alternatives

The Growing Risks in U.S. Commercial Real Estate

In life, true second chances don’t come around often. On the night of December 9, 1907, W. J. Bartnett was arrested at his home on Silva Island off the shore of Marin, California. Accompanied by his wife and two policemen, the disgraced director of the defunct California Safe Deposit and Trust company was taken to the San Francisco jail where he was to be charged with the embezzlement of stocks and bonds of the Colton estate. The bank’s depositors, who had been wiped out, wasted no time in pursuing an investigation into what had transpired at the Fillmore Street branch of the bank. In a statement issued December 10th, all the money on deposit at that location had been loaned to stockholders, to themselves and to mythical companies.

The cliche “spectacular fall” applies here. It was only 18 months earlier that Bartnett, in his capacity as chief consul for the Western Pacific Railroad, was given the power to breathe life not a second, but rather a seventh time, back into San Francisco. The hardy residents were no rookies to devastation – between 1849 and 1851, the city was practically razed by fire seven times. Each time, it reconstructed and recovered. Things changed at 5:12 a.m. on Wednesday April 18, 1906, when a different sort of disaster struck. At an estimated 7.9 magnitude on the Richter scale, what shook San Franciscans awake was more than one of the worst earthquakes in U.S. history. For days, the fires the quake set off burned, consuming 80% of the city and killing more than 3,000. Most of the city’s population of 400,000 was homeless and the need to swiftly rebuild acute. U.S. Army troops based at the Presidio and the Red Cross played a key role in the immediate aftermath of the calamity.

Because the railroad empire effectively governed at the turn of the last century, it had the clout to dictate the design and terms of reconstruction. As the Museum of San Francisco frames it, “At the time, the railroads controlled California politics, and San Francisco was the most important city in the state. So, Mr. Bartnett’s ‘suggestions’ in the form of this letter to Mayor Eugene Schmitz were more in the nature of political instructions.” Everything from a revitalization of the port to a bank holiday to cheap rail fares to facilitate the procurement of unemployed engineers, contractors and tradesmen throughout the United States was commanded and delivered, financed through the issuance of bond sales.

 

The Weekly Quill — Bleeding the House — U.S. Residential Real Estate Slowing Broader Economy

“No act ever committed has called forth such universal execration as the murder of that great and good man, Abraham Lincoln.”

Thomas A. Jones, 1893

Regret is not something easily acknowledged in the best of our breed. Publicly repenting for the aiding and abetting of a president’s murder qualifies as exceptionally courageous, to say nothing of reckless. One thing is clear of the conscience of Thomas A. Jones – his guilt was too heavy to bear. We’ve all experienced some form of idealism in our youth. In Jones’ case, as a 45-year-old, he had a certain “zeal” for the Confederate cause, one that blinded him of reason in his summation. In 1861, when the Civil War started, he resided in a place that was strategically ideal for those inclined to support the South. Thomas had purchased “Huckleberry,” a 500-acre farm bounded by the Potomac River to the west and Pope’s Creek in Charles County, Maryland to the north. The small one-story house was perched atop a bluff 80 feet high overlooking the vast expanse of the river.

As any map will tell you, though, Pope’s Creek is only two miles across from Virginia. The area was also filled with those sympathetic to the South. As Jones recalled 1893’s John Wilkes Booth: By a Man Who Helped Him Escape, “It was, therefore, when the war had put an end to intercourse in Washington and above it with Virginia, that hundreds of people came to the neighborhood of Pope’s Creek to get put across to the river.” Nearly every night after the war broke out, Jones facilitated the migration by ferrying evacuees across the river. If the winds and mighty currents were calm, he would make the journey more than one time in one night.

By April 14, 1865, the Confederate agent was well known on both sides of the war. As history tells it, John Wilkes Booth leapt over the balustrade of President Abraham Lincoln’s box in Ford’s Theater after shooting him through the back of the head with a .44-caliber derringer. “Sic semper tyrannis!” he shouted. Translated from Latin, the battle cry was short for “Thus, always I bring death to tyrants!” The phrase was first used during the assassination of Julius Caesar and befitting Booth who was an accomplished thespian but also America’s first heartthrob, the 1860s answer to Brad Pitt said to have been the first to have his shirt ripped off by adoring fans of the fairer sex. Leg broken by the leap to the stage, Booth was consumed with the fight to flight. Virginia was to be his end point. Escaping by horseback from the alley behind the theater, he rode through the night to the house of Dr. Samuel Mudd near Bryantown, Maryland. At 7 a.m. the next morning, Lincoln passed, setting off a Union soldier manhunt that was 1,000 strong.

His left leg set, Booth’s attempted escape would last nearly two weeks. The reward money of $100,000 didn’t register with Jones, who skirted Booth and a co-conspirator to a pine thicket near his farm where the two laid low, sustained by provisions Jones provided from April 16 to 21, 1865. The weather appeared to be in the fugitives’ favor and Union soldiers were far enough away for a shot at crossing over to Virginia. Under the cover of darkness, Jones refused Booth’s offer of money; he only took the $18 to cover the cost of the flat-bottomed boat. The only mystery that stands to this day is that Jones failed to warn the two men about the Potomac’s strong flood tide. As such, the boat was swept upriver to Nanjemoy Creek on the river’s Maryland side. Though fate was not on his side in the end, Booth did manage to land in Virginia on a subsequent attempt two days later.

This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend a wedding at Mount Air, a farm bounded to the south by Huckleberry, where the original Jones homes still stands. The 1,600-acre farm is still graced with its original two-story manor, which is on the National Historic Landmark Registry. Had I chosen to risk the journey (in impossibly high heels) down the steep 100-foot bluff over which I took in the breathtaking beauty of the sweeping Potomac, I could have stood where a president’s assassin once did. The short trip from Bethesda to La Plata was most striking to this economist for one reason – tear downs are conspicuous in their absence.

The Weekly Quill — Greenback-Slapped – Emerging Markets Hit Emergency Mode

“Merchants in Cincinnati, as elsewhere, have got into debt by buying property or by building houses, but are now secure in the possession. Such people, notwithstanding, complain of the badness of the times, finding that the trade of buying without paying cannot be continued. Those who have not already secured an independence for life may soon be willing to have trade and fair dealing as formerly. Property laws deprive creditors of the debts now due to them; but they cannot force them to give credit as they were wont to do.”

James Flint of Scotland in Jefferson, Indiana, May 4, 1820

Whether dreams of continental control all the way to Canada, as some have purported, or national honor and maritime rights, the theme of President James Madison’s June 1, 1812, speech to Congress focused on the latter two. To some of the young country’s leaders, the need to engage in the War of 1812 was existential, nothing shy of a second war of independence. Among them was Andrew Jackson, who still bore the scars of the first war to free the Colonies of British rule. “Peace, above all things, is to be desired, but blood must sometimes be spilled to obtain it on equable and lasting terms,” Jackson said upon joining the U.S. Army. He earned the rank of Major General and the nickname “Ol Hickory” for his toughness on the battlefield, especially in the famous Battle of New Orleans.

It would be Jackson’s actions after being elected by the voting public as the nation’s 7th President in 1829 that left a lasting mark on the nation’s economy. The War of 1812, which ended on February 17, 1815, proved to be costly to the British, there’s no such thing as a war with no costs. Coinciding with the 1815 end of the War of 1812 was Britain’s being able to finally put an end to Napoleon’s reign. At home, Britain found itself mired in a post-war depression and attempting to quash rising militancy among the unemployed. Their answer was to up production of goods which were exported and dumped on American shores at cut rate prices. While cheap imports were welcome, struggling U.S. producers sought the protection of tariffs to protect their market share and staunch job losses. In time, a panic began to spread from the Northeast south to Pittsburgh and over to the Ohio River Valley and Lexington, home to budding and fragile industrial centers.

At the same time, more than 10,000 miles west of Kentucky, Mount Tambora, a volcano in present-day Indonesia, which was then part of the Dutch West Indies, began to erupt. This unleashing on Mother Nature’s part, which started on April 5, 1815, and ended April 23rd the following year, was more than 100 times that of 1980’s Mt. St. Helena, and remains the most powerful volcanic eruption in recorded human history. The atmospheric haze produced was so blanketing, the world remembers 1816 as the “year without a summer.” Compounding matters, Europe had a weak wheat harvest, which sent global prices soaring. Dejected, demoralized and cold, many New Englanders set out for the U.S. West and the prospects it held for sky-high farming profits and warmer climes.

The Weekly Quill — The Quill Intelligence Interview Series Up & Down Wall Street with Barron’s Randall Forsyth

“Had I been left to the dictates of my own judgment, New York should have been laid in Ashes before I quitted it … Providence—or some good honest Fellow, has done more for us than we were disposed to do for ourselves.”
George Washington, 1776

If George Washington can learn from his failures, we all can. On November 16, 1776, the British attacked Fort Washington, situated at the northernmost tip and highest elevation of what is now the borough of Manhattan in New York City. The commander of the British Army forces, Lieutenant General William Howe, led an assault from the north, east and south. The inevitable was delayed by tides in the Harlem River, which prevented some troops from landing. When the British did make landfall, the fort’s southern and western American defenses fell swiftly. Patriot forces on the north side put up a mean resistance, but they too were eventually overwhelmed. With the fort surrounded by land and sea, Colonel Robert Magaw had no way out but surrender.

The tragedy of the lives lost that cold day was that General George Washington, for whom the fort was named, had already issued a discretionary order to Major General Nathanael Greene to abandon the fort and remove its garrison to New Jersey. But Col. Magaw refused the order believing he could hold the fort. Following this crushing defeat – which laid to rest 53 Patriots, wounded 96 and saw the British capture 2,818 — most of Washington’s army was forced to retreat to New Jersey and into Pennsylvania leaving the British to consolidate their control of New York.

Providence was ultimately with the Patriots. And while the fort no longer stands, its site today is Bennett Park on Fort Washington Avenue between West 183rd and 185th Streets. Seven blocks north, on 549 Audubon Avenue at West 192nd Street, is the former George Washington High School, built on the hill where the Revolutionary War battle of Fort Washington was fought. The school, which is now split up into four academies opened on Washington’s Birthday, on February 1, 1925. The subway line that opened there in 1906 drew families from the crowded slums of the Lower East Side escaping to larger apartments and better living conditions. The Roaring Twenties subsequently invited a flurry of construction, which was followed by a flood of new residents.

Per the high school’s website, its notable graduates include, “Harry Belafonte, actor and singer; Rod Carew, Major League Baseball Hall of Famer; Gene Colan, Marvel and DC Comics artist; Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve; Jacob Javits, senator and state attorney general; Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State, 1973 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize; Manny Ramírez, Major League Baseball player; and Ron Perlman.”

By the middle of the 20th century, many of the lucrative manufacturing jobs that had drawn immigrants to New York City began to vanish. This marked a turning point for Washington Heights, which began its long descent. That point in time, the 1950s, is where this week’s featured guest for the Quill Interview Series came to find himself growing up at the northern tip of Manhattan. For Barron’s Associate Editor Randall Forsyth, himself a graduate of George Washington High, the most famous graduate he can site is his mother. After that, alongside the baseball greats, he named Henry Kaufman, the esteemed economist who started his career at the New York Fed and earned the nickname “Dr. Doom” for his seething criticism of government policies in the 1970s when he was chief economist at Solomon Brothers. Of course, Greenspan’s name came up as well. Randy, as he’s known to me and those lucky enough to know him, grew up  at Broadway and 164th, one block north of where the Maestro had been raised, albeit decades earlier. As he recalled in an hour visit with me last month, “growing up there gives you great preparation and great incentive to get the hell out.”

The Weekly Quill — Tautological Temptations —  The Quill Intelligence Second Quarter U.S. Commercial Real Estate Outlook

“Now, gentlemen, in this country, our courts are the great levelers. In our courts, all men are created equal. I’m no idealist to believe firmly in the integrity of our courts and of our jury system – that’s no ideal to me. That is a living, working reality! Now I am confident that you gentlemen will review, without passion, the evidence that you have heard, come to a decision and restore this man to his family. In the name of GOD, do your duty. In the name of God, believe… Tom Robinson.”

Atticus Finch

There is a fine art to tautology. From the Greek tauto, meaning “same,” and Logos, meaning “word or idea,” it is a literary device that can use reiteration to create ambiguity or take poetic license…or be needlessly repetitive, or worse, condescending. In what is a blessing to all who’ve been fortunate enough to read her tour de force, Nelle Harper Lee was blessed, some would even say gifted from on high, in her direct and yet, nuanced, use of tautology.

In what was her sole work until just before her death, 1961 Pulitzer Prize winner To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee plies her readers to set aside their prejudices, to succumb to the repeated words of Atticus Finch, in his self-deprecating plea to find Tom Robinson innocent, which we know he was. Atticus is fully aware that evidence alone will never exonerate a black man in America’s South during the Great Depression. So, he appeals to the good in those with faith in the U.S. court system and the word of God. He dares the jurors to prove justice is not an “ideal,” but rather an inviolable right. Atticus invokes the name of the Lord as a reminder that we are all equals as the Bible teaches. By echoing himself with an inspired use of tautology, he prevents his audience from brushing aside truths they might prefer were inconvenient.

And yet, the jury still finds the honest and hardworking Robinson guilty for which he was sentenced to hang. In trying to flee jail, he is shot dead. Though we know Lee suffered from depression, we will never know with certainty why she never again published. Was she tormented by her upbringing in the small town of Monroeville, Alabama? That’s all we can surmise. In one of Lee’s only appearances with the press in 1976, she recalled her childhood friend Truman Capote’s hand being whacked with a ruler. Capote’s transgression? He was reading too well. In describing herself and Capote, lifelong friends and equally afflicted genius writers, Lee only served to deepen the mystery of her persona: “We are bound by a common anguish.”

Humility and self-criticism are woefully in deficit among the self-proclaimed experts in our world of economics and finance. With a hat tip to Simplify Asset Management’s Michael Green, in a perfectly timed release, Federal Reserve Board staffers Eric Engstrom and Steven Sharpe revisit a paper they first released in 2018: “Don’t Fear the Yield Curve, Reprise.” Google it if you’re curious though I can assure you, its findings won’t surprise you as they’ve been regurgitated by the sell side and malleable-minded financial press ad nauseum. The money quote is oozing with condescension: “We have provided statistical evidence indicating that the perceived omniscience of the 2-10 spread that pervades market commentary is probably spurious. In particular, our similarly titled white paper (Engstrom and Sharpe, 2018) demonstrated that, historically, the 2-10 spread and its inversions would have provided no incremental information about future economic conditions…”

The Weekly Quill — Knowing It When You See It — Moral Hazard in Corporate America

“To keep people like me out of positions like that because of yellow journalism, I don’t know what good it does.”

Charles Keating on being denied the Ambassadorship
to the Bahamas, 1980

 

There’s a distinct culpability in neither admitting nor denying guilt. In the mid-1970s, Charles Humphrey Keating, Jr. was at the epicenter of shareholder lawsuits filed against American Financial Corporation. Dubious stock warrants, unsecured loans, and the handling of the sale of The Cincinnati Enquirer prompted the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to launch a massive investigation into the company. Among the panoply of targets of fraud investigations was $14 million extended directly to Keating, Carl H. Lindner, Jr., the firm’s leader, and other officers on extraordinarily favorable terms. Rather than stick around, Keating resigned taking with him Phoenix-based American Continental Homes, a multimillion-dollar, money-losing homebuilding spinoff given to Keating for $300,000 as part of his severance package.

Renamed American Continental Corporation, Keating parlayed this entity into the biggest single-family homebuilder in Phoenix and Denver. By then, he had settled with the SEC, signing consent agreement in which he neither admitted nor denied his guilt alongside a quaint agreement to not violate federal fraud and securities laws henceforth. Never questioned, however, was Keating’s work ethic and that which he induced among his most fervent loyalists led by his son and four of his sons-in-law. At its peak, the corporation employed 2,500 and boasted $6 billion in assets. Shaking his old ways would prove impossible, which led to his undoing starting with the 1984 acquisition of Lincoln Savings & Loan, based in Irvine, California. On paper, Keating grew the bank’s assets to $5 billion from $1 billion inside four years. In fact, deceptive accounting practices were once again in play.

The Weekly Quill — Risking Risk-Free Status — The U.S. Crosses into No Man’s Land

It takes a special sort of leader to excel as a wingman in waiting. Patience, wisdom, maturity – these are the requisite characteristics. Theodore Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman both fit this bill. In the case of Truman, historians rank him the 5th and 6th best President and Vice President, respectively. Roosevelt gets even higher marks – as Vice President, he garners 2nd place behind Thomas Jefferson, whose visage is next to his on Mount Rushmore. And he is the 3rd highest regarded President in U.S. history. For others, arguments can be made for stopping while you’re ahead.

As vice president, Nixon burnished his reputation for foreign policy expertise with international travel to dozens of countries. His South American tour garnered international headlines when a mob in Caracas, Venezuela, stoned his motorcade. The confrontations with the demonstrators abroad only made him more popular at home. His 1959 trip to the Soviet Union was even more dramatic and politically helpful. While taking in an exhibit showcasing a General Electric model kitchen at the U.S. Trade and Cultural Fair in Sokolniki Park, Nixon and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev traded words about the merits of their respective countries.

Under Dwight D. Eisenhower, Nixon’s expertise as a master in foreign affairs was established as he crossed the globe visiting dozens of countries. Two trips in particular endeared Nixon to the American public. An international headline-grabbing mob scene in Caracas, Venezuela, with demonstrators stoning his motorcade proved immensely popular at home. And his 1959 Cold War “kitchen debate” with Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev sent his star rising even more. The occasion was an exhibit featuring a General Electric model kitchen at the U.S. Trade and Cultural Fair. Nixon lauded Soviet technology in the realm of outer space but derided their technology in other arenas, such as color television. Khrushchev countered that there was no U.S. “besting” of Soviet prowess in any arena and a spirited debate ensued in which Nixon shrewdly won the war of words.

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Danielle DiMartino Booth is founder and Chief Strategist at Quill Intelligence

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