Medallion Financial: Fashion Model Investor Relations Fiasco

Seeking Alpha
Feb. 6, 2017 4:19 PM ET

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Permabear

Long/short equity, deep value, contrarian, debt

Summary

Fashion model Sarah Frigo was hired at Medallion Financial Investor Relations.

While at the company, Frigo posted numerous bullish MFIN articles and comments under a pseudonym.

Potential securities fraud violation, management credibility in serious question.

Medallion loan book continues to deteriorate, Medallion Bank has breached its FDIC 15% leverage ratio.

If you are new to Medallion Financial (NASDAQ:MFIN), please take a look at my first two articles:

This is the full story of MFIN’s Investor Relations fiasco, involving a young, beautiful New York City fashion model with no finance experience, who quickly ascended to “head of Investor Relations” and spread highly promotional misinformation about MFIN, its stock price and future prospects, all while operating in the shadows – under a pseudonym.

The story was covered by Debtwire on January 27, 2017 in a piece entitled Fashion model turned cab finance company promoter takes Medallion Financial investors for a ride (which I suggest you read before continuing).

In this article, I will provide all the supporting material I obtained since November 2016, consisting of screenshots sourced from LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Huffington Post, and Medallion Financial’s official website. None of the images were altered, but I did highlight, underline and provide commentary on several of the images for ease of reference. To the extent possible, I have archived webpages from which I have taken screenshots, these links are included below. Strap in! It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Let’s start at the beginning.

February 2016

Sarah Rabby Frigo is hired at Medallion Financial Investor Relations. According to Frigo’s LinkedIn she was, “appointed to the head of Investor Relations.

LinkedIn also says she is a “freelance contributor to the Huffington Post” after appealing directly to Arianna Huffington.

Frigo appears to have had no relevant experience in finance, investor relations or journalism. The bulk of her previous working experience (2008 – February 2016) was as a fashion model.

Source: Sarah Frigo

Source: Sarah Frigo

Source: Sarah Frigo

Source: Sarah Frigo on Twitter

Source: Sarah Frigo Instagram

Introducing: Jayme Stanley

Below is an image from Sarah Frigo’s Instagram of her and her brother Craig.

According to Facebook, Craig is in a relationship with Jayme Stanley. (Stay with me here… it will all make sense very soon.)

Below is an image of both Jayme Stanley (left) and Sarah Frigo (right) at a nightclub in 2015.

Okay, a quick recap – as of February 2016:

  1. Sarah Frigo, a fashion model with no relevant finance experience, has been appointed the head of Investor Relations at MFIN
  2. Sarah Frigo has a direct familial connection to a woman named Jayme Stanley

May 2016

Huffington Post

During the week of May 1, 2016, Sarah Frigo posted on her Instagram a screenshot of her email conversation with Arianna Huffington.

The email subject line reads, “(Article)Safety In Subsidiaries: Untangling the web of perception surrounding the taxi medallion industry, Uber, TAXI stock and Medallion Financial Corporation.Note: MFIN’s ticker was TAXI prior to May 11, 2016.

Note Sarah Frigo’s reference to using her “pen-name email” below.

Enlarging the screenshot of the email from Arianna Huffington (below), the pen-name email address that Sarah Frigo appears to be using is stanleyjayme@yahoo.com.

The Huffington Post article was also bylined by the “pen-name,” Jayme Stanley. Certainly a bizarre choice for a pseudonym!

Enlarging the photo displayed with Jayme Stanley‘s profile on Huffington Post reveals it is not the actual Jayme Stanley, but Sarah Frigo.

The first Huffington Post article published under the pen-name Jayme Stanley was issued on May 3, 2016. A second article was published just two days later on May 5th. Both articles are highly promotional of MFIN and contain statements such as claiming Medallion Bank (banking subsidiary of Medallion Financial) is “worth double the market capital [of the parent] today.

A full three months later on August 2, 2016, Andrew Murstein, President of Medallion Financial, presenting at the Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Community Bank Investor Conference in New York City said, “we think the bank alone could be worth double our total market cap today.” This statement by Andrew Murstein is essentially word-for-word what Sarah Frigo, head of MFIN Investor Relations, wrote in the Huffington Post three months earlier under a fake name!

MFIN stock closed at $7.34 on May 3, 2016, when “Jayme Stanley” published her first pro-MFIN article. MFIN stock recently closed at $2.29 on February 3, 2017 (a 69% decline from May 3rd).

Note: In January 2017, after this story was broken by Debtwire, the author’s name on the Huffington Post articles was changed from Jayme Stanley to Sarah Frigo. The articles were subsequently deleted. That said, the articles have been permanently archived online:

Note in the image below, the site link refers to author Jayme Stanley, whereas the author’s name on the page is now Sarah Frigo.

Frigo tweeted the two articles back to back on May 6th, referring to the Safety in a Subsidiary article (authored by “Jayme Stanley) as “my first article for The Huffington Post…”

Medallion Financial’s official website has an “In the News” section in which the company provides links to various articles and interviews concerning the company (positive stories only, of course!).

Links to the two Jayme Stanley Huffington Post articles were provided on this page. Note that the Huffington Post author’s name is not provided (as seems customary with the other articles). They simply refer to this author as “Contributor.

MFIN’s website was archived online on November 5, 2016 here. To access the relevant page, click the link, then click “November 5, 2016,” scroll down and click “Articles & Interviews” and you will be able to see the two Huffington Post articles submitted “By Contributor” with links provided.

Seeking Alpha and Yahoo Finance

Also in May 2016, a user named stanleyjayme began posting bullish/promotional comments on various MFIN articles on Seeking Alpha. Another user, Jayme, started posting similar (sometimes identical) comments on the MFIN page at Yahoo Finance sometime in July or August 2016.

Every single comment posted by stanleyjayme and Jayme concerns Medallion Financial, the company that hired Sarah Frigo.

Some excerpts of questionable/promotional comments from stanleyjayme and Jayme include:

From Seeking Alpha:

  • The stock price is so low this is a great buy
  • This company is a gem and its [sic] only a matter of time until the stock pops
  • The stock will be back up again within a few months, and will be performing great
  • I think it’s a great idea to buy right now…
  • When short-sellers are telling you not to buy, it’s an obvious signal” – this comment in particular reads like the time Andrew Murstein, President of MFIN, “urged [investors] to ignore short-sellers and other critics forecasting the company’s doom

From Yahoo Finance:

  • I don’t forsee MFIN having any problems with raising debt capital nor do I see the debt market as necessarily being closed
  • I believe MFIN is as profitable and safe of an investment as it has ever been.

Okay, time for another recap:

  1. Sarah Frigo, a fashion model with no relevant finance experience, has been appointed the head of Investor Relations at MFIN
  2. Sarah Frigo has a direct familial connection to a woman named Jayme Stanley
  3. Sarah Frigo posted highly promotional MFIN articles and comments under the pseudonyms Jayme Stanley (Huffington Post), stanleyjayme (Seeking Alpha) and Jayme (Yahoo Finance)
  4. Medallion Financial’s official website linked to Jayme Stanley’s Huffington Post articles, but curiously did not include the author’s name, as was customary with the other articles on the site

November 2016

On Friday, November 25, 2016, a reporter at a major US newspaper contacted MFIN management for comment on Sarah Frigo’s posts and links to her Huffington Post story listed on the “In the News” section of the company’s official website.

Over the following days, MFIN attempted to cover its tracks and hide the connection between its Investor Relations department and the articles/comments touting MFIN stock.

MFIN covering its tracks

1. MFIN “In the News” webpage scrubbed – MFIN removed reference to the two Huffington Post articles from its website. An image of MFIN’s website was archived on November 5, 2016 and can be accessed here.

2. Sarah Frigo’s LinkedIn scrubbed and hidden – Frigo removed all reference to working at Medallion Financial or contributing to Huffington Post. Frigo also removed her LinkedIn page from Google search (which can be done in the LinkedIn settings). As of this writing, her page is still active and can be accessed here. (Since the Debtwire story, Frigo has reaffirmed her connection to both Medallion Financial and Huffington Post on her LinkedIn page).

3. Sarah Frigo’s Twitter account is set to private

4. Seeking Alpha and Yahoo Finance commenters go dark – There have not been any comments by stanleyjayme (on Seeking Alpha) or Jayme (on Yahoo Finance) since November 16, 2016.

Surprisingly, Frigo’s Instagram has not been set to private and, as of this writing, the picture of the Arianna Huffington email is still online.

January 2017

The Debtwire story published January 27, 2017 included a statement from the company:

Ms. Frigo is not currently, nor was she ever, a Medallion employee. She is no longer associated in any way with the Company. We are not aware of anything she said publicly that was not accurate or otherwise reflected in already publicly available information, and any comments she is alleged to have posted under a pseudonym she would have posted unbeknownst to Medallion.”

The Company’s assertion that it was unaware of Frigo’s posting under a pseudonym strains credibility. According to her LinkedIn profile, the majority of Frigo’s career prior to her association with Medallion was as a fashion model and evinces no familiarity with either finance or the investor relations function. Nor does she have any post-secondary education or vocational training in finance or securities analysis.

Despite this, in her articles and comments under the Jayme Stanley pseudonym, she fluently navigates the subtleties of unconsolidated bank subsidiaries and how their accounting treatment obscures their profitability to public investors, the ability of bank subsidiaries to “dividend up” capital to the parent entity as a way of maintaining a stable dividend to investors, mezzanine debt investments with equity kickers, the difficulty of completing baby bond offerings in the BDC sector, the impact of stock liquidity on the cost of capital, the manner in which low cost bank deposits and the inherent leverage in bank balance sheets can offset the cost of more expensive unsecured debt issued at the parent level, appropriate earnings multiples for bank equities, the value of an A- credit rating, and finally, and remarkably, the tradeoffs of electing to forego RIC (regulated investment company) status in terms of tax efficiency vs. operation flexibility.

Amassing this depth and range of finance, accounting and investment knowledge would require an MBA and several years of hands-on experience for virtually anyone. Yet, Sarah Frigo, armed only with a high school education and no finance background, seems to have mastered these topics and become fluent with them in 3 months on the job. She is either the world’s quickest study, or she had help from others inside the company in composing this story.

Sarah Frigo’s LinkedIn page was recently updated, yet again. This time it includes reference to her time spent working at Medallion (“[managing] social media accounts“) and writing for the Huffington Post under a contributor account. According to her page, it appears as if she left the company in October 2016; however, based on the comments under the Jayme Stanley pseudonym, it is likely that she worked at Medallion at least through mid-November 2016.

Given that Medallion faces a possible violation of SEC Rule 10b-5, it is likely that her current LinkedIn page was written, or at least reviewed by, an MFIN attorney.

Conclusion

MFIN’s recent campaign of misinformation and positive spin is nothing new, but this Investor Relations fiasco now opens the company up to a potential securities fraud violation of SEC Rule 10b-5. Given her inexperience in the field, it is hard to believe that senior management was unaware of and uninvolved in Sarah Frigo’s promotional activities online.

Management has consistently presented an overly optimistic view of the company’s prospects and has failed to disclose important negative facts in press releases and SEC filings. Just a few, of many, examples follow.

In September 2014, in a New York Times article entitled A Taxi Financing Firm Isn’t Switching Lanes, Andrew Murstein, President of Medallion Financial, said the threat that Uber posed to the New York City taxi industry was “overblown.” MFIN stock has dropped approximately 82% since this statement, while the bank’s nonaccrual medallion loans spiked from zero in Q3 2014 to $47MM in Q3 2016, representing 15% of its medallion loan portfolio.

In September 2015, Murstein was quoted in a Barron’s article insisting that the chances of cutting the company’s dividend are “slim to none.” Less than 12 months later, the dividend was cut by 80%.

In August 2016, speaking at the Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Community Bank Investor Conference, Murstein said MFIN’s subsidiary Medallion Bank could be “worth double [MFIN’s] total market cap.” This pegs the value of the bank (according to Murstein) at approximately $300MM. MFIN’s market cap is now under $60MM. According to Medallion Bank’s FFIEC Call Reports, in H2 2016, it wrote off $28MM worth of commercial and industrial loans (the bulk of which are medallion loans), representing approximately 9% of total loans. Loss provisions at the bank also skyrocketed from $17MM in 2015 to $69MM for 2016. Does Mr. Murstein still stand by his statement?

In November 2016, Murstein was quoted in a Crain’s article saying “the company is doing extremely well.” At the time of that statement, the company was in default on a series of loans secured by its Chicago medallions, its bank subsidiary had violated its capital requirement with the FDIC, its Freshstart Ventures subsidiary likely also had a capital deficiency which would later lead to it agreeing to a forced liquidation at the behest of its regulator, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and it was the subject of a lawsuit for nonpayment by the bank that lent against its Chicago medallions. If that is the company doing “extremely well,” I would be interested to see what happens when it is performing poorly.

According to Medallion Bank’s Q4 2016 FFIEC Call Report released on January 30, 2017 (and Q3 2016 report restated on January 24, 2017), the bank has been in violation of its mandatory 15% leverage ratio (required to maintain FDIC deposit insurance on over $900MM of deposits) for the entire second half of fiscal 2016. The company provided a long-term strategic update on January 31, 2017 stating that their focus will now shift to operating Medallion Bank, but stunningly failed to mention this very important negative fact. Does management think capital deficiency, increasing loss provisions, medallion loan charge-offs and restatement of financials at Medallion Bank is not material enough to disclose to its investors?

The company claims its “strategic shift” reduces its exposure to medallions. This is simply false. The company’s exposure to medallion loans has not dropped by a penny as a result of these actions, nor has the company reduced any of the debt incurred to fund the medallion loans. They are now being forced to liquidate the assets of Freshstart Ventures to meet an accelerated debt amortization on its SBA debentures, requiring them to find a buyer in an illiquid market in which not a single lender is increasing exposure to medallions, and for which the best hope is that a vulture investor might make a bid at pennies on the dollar.

Now Murstein says that they are “well positioned in 2017 and confident in [their] future.

It’s time for investors to stop taking management’s word at face value and start asking some tough questions.

Disclosure: I am/we are short MFIN.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Editor’s Note: This article covers one or more stocks trading at less than $1 per share and/or with less than a $100 million market cap. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.

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Medallion Finance Earnings Release Yahoo Exchange to 9 March 8:30 pm

  • I would like to believe, but it is difficult. The ado espoused by management inre the share buyback was rediculous
    when you consider they only bought 200,000 shares at less thn a half mil. I think they will make it, but I am old and if it takes five years I probably won’t be here. Stupidly, rode it all the way down and that decrease took two years of profits out of my portfolio. My mistake!!!! Hoped for a faster turn around, but the medallions still weighing them down. The fact that the cities
    didn’t live up the agreements and let Uber and Lyft operate in the city was a kicker.
    Morale -If you depend on any form of government (fed, state, county, or city) you will end up getting screwed
    if they were serious about a buyback, they should just do a $4M tender at $2/sh and retire 1/12 of the shares.
  • For anyone believing in a successful sale of a minority investment in the bank think about this. MFIN has a market cap of $45 million. $45 million would only purchase 15% of the current value of Medallion Bank, based on MFIN’s insane write-ups. If there was any interest in the bank someone would have acquired MFIN, but nobody has because Medallion Bank and MFIN are worth nothing

    Gordon
    yesterday

    PumpNDump once again by well-connected traders in the Caribbean and Cyprus. DO NOT fall for this tactic used over and over and over again with TAXI/MFIN stock trading. Those on the inside ALWAYS win

  • Does anyone understand why the stock is up? Results are awful, company will be in bankruptcy anyday now. Taxi revenues dropping everyday as well as medallion values.
  • Without the Medallion Bank write-up this quarter their asset coverage ratio would have been ~195%, below the 200% requirement. This would put them in default as a BDC and would be a default on most of their debt. This is where you can start throwing out the “5-letter F word”
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Suit Says ‘Taxi King’ Reneged On Series Of Business Deals

Edward J. Tutunjian (right) and his wife, Nancy, left the Boston federal courthouse earlier this week.

CRAIG F. WALKER/GLOBE STAFF

Edward J. Tutunjian (right) and his wife, Nancy, left the Boston federal courthouse earlier this week.

Edward J. Tutunjian, the embattled “taxi king” of Boston who was recently sentenced to 18 monthsin a halfway house for tax evasion and other crimes, desperately maneuvered to sell his business and properties for $145 million amid mounting legal and financial pressures, according to a lawsuit filed this week by a Boston developer.

Jay Doherty, chief executive of real estate firm Cabot, Cabot & Forbes, contends in the complaint that Tutunjian approached him last summer about buying 362 taxi medallions, his Boston Cab company, and several properties in the Fenway neighborhood. Tutunjian allegedly explained that competition from Uber and other ride-hailing services was decimating the value of Boston Cab’s business and medallions, and that he had decided “it was time to get out,” Doherty said in his lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court.

But the developer alleges that Tutunjian ultimately reneged on a series of deals with him, and secretly negotiated with other potential buyers in violation of an exclusivity agreement. Doherty now wants a state judge to force Tutunjian, 67, to sell the Fenway properties to CC&F, plus pay damages for breaching the contract and reimburse CC&F for the money it spent vetting the deal.

Andrew Good, an attorney for Tutunjian and several of his relatives who help run Boston Cab, derided the lawsuit as opportunistic, noting that it was filed on the day Tutunjian was sentenced in federal court in Boston.

“The lawsuit is meritless and improperly motivated,” Good said in a statement. “The Tutunjian family will vigorously defend the lawsuit, and will not succumb to improper pressure tactics. Mr. Doherty’s supposed offer to buy the taxi business was withdrawn not long after it was made, several months ago.”

Good said the family has not agreed to sell the properties, which include the complex where Boston Cab has operated for four decades and a parking garage near Fenway Park. Good did acknowledge that “several parties . . . have offered to purchase certain real estate” the family owns.

Doherty, who provided a copy of his lawsuit but did not respond to further questions, wrote in his complaint that Tutunjian first approached him about buying the cab business and properties in May. That was several months before US prosecutors charged the longtime Boston Cab owner with payroll tax evasion, employing illegal immigrants, and failing to pay overtime wages. Tutunjian pleaded guilty in August and agreed to pay $2 million in fines.

The federal charges stemmed from a 2013 Boston Globe Spotlight Team series that found Boston Cab, part of a business empire then worth about a quarter-billion dollars, routinely exploited its drivers. The reports prompted a raid by IRS agents.

At an initial meeting last summer, Doherty recounted, Tutunjian asked for $150 million for the business, medallions, and Fenway properties.

According to the complaint, Tutunjian said he was “not happy with the way Boston city government was giving favorable treatment to Uber.”

In July, Doherty said, the sides signed a deal that set the sale price at $145 million and pledged to execute a purchase and sale within 30 days.

But then, the complaint said, Tutunjian began changing the terms of the agreement. First, he allegedly told Doherty that he had mortgaged the Fenway properties to secure a $35 million loan from Santander Bank but was worried he could not repay it before the June 2017 due date.

Doherty, whose firm by this time had performed extensive diligence and was in conversations with potential financiers for the purchase, said he agreed to loan Tutunjian the $35 million if he was unable to refinance it.

Soon after, Doherty said, he learned from a Globe report that Tutunjian had transferred the 362 medallions he had supposedly promised to sell Cabot, Cabot & Forbes to his wife, Nancy Tutunjian.

When Doherty confronted the Boston Cab owner, Tutunjian allegedly said there was “nothing to worry about, and that the transfer of the medallions to Nancy Tutunjian was merely a formality [that] did not impact his control over the medallions or his legal right to sell them.”

That transfer to Nancy Tutunjian was initially approved by the Boston Police Department’s Hackney Carriage Unit, but after Tutunjian pleaded guilty in August, officials said they would reassess the transfer.

Asked Friday about Doherty’s allegation that Tutunjian would maintain control of the medallions even after the transfer, a spokeswoman for Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said only that city police officials would “look at all relevant information in determining the suitability of potential medallion owners.”

By fall, the sale had begun to disintegrate, according to the lawsuit.

Doherty, whose firm managed development of the Atmark residential complex in Cambridge among many other projects, said he was in discussions with several foreign companies interested in operating the taxicab business when Tutunjian’s representatives suddenly suggested the mogul wanted to lease the garage back and continue running Boston Cab himself.

Tutunjian also questioned CC&F’s financial wherewithal, refused to let Doherty speak directly with Santander Bank about the $35 million loan, and demanded CC&F pay his broker’s fee, according to the lawsuit.

The tycoon even allegedly admitted that he had been shopping the real estate to other firms, identified by Doherty as the Lincoln Property Co. and Equity Residential Co., while offering the taxi business to a “Pennsylvania transportation company.”

Now, Doherty said in his complaint, Tutunjian won’t return his calls after walking away from a refashioned deal in which CC&F would buy only the Fenway properties for $47 million to $50 million.

Saying there is “serious concern that a sale to others will occur before year end,” the developer successfully petitioned the Suffolk Superior Court on Tuesday to tag Tutunjian’s properties on Kilmarnock and Queensberry streets with a so-called memorandum of lis pendens, which will alert any potential buyers and their lenders that the land is the subject of a dispute.

A hearing on the case has not been scheduled.

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‘Taxi king’ Ed Tutunjian To Abdicate His Throne

Edward J. Tutunjian, shown with his wife, Nancy, in December, will sell his taxi medallions and several properties in the Fenway to developer Jay Doherty.

CRAIG F. WALKER/GLOBE STAFF/FILE 2016

Edward J. Tutunjian, shown with his wife, Nancy, in December, will sell his taxi medallions and several properties in the Fenway to developer Jay Doherty.

The decades-long reign of Boston’s “taxi king” is coming to an end.

Edward J. Tutunjian — whose Boston Cab empire crumbled amid competition from Uber and allegations of worker exploitation that triggered a federal investigation — has agreed to sell his company, 362 taxi medallions, and several properties in the Fenway to developer Jay Doherty for approximately $145 million.

“We have an airtight contract,” Doherty said in an interview. “They agreed to honor it, and we’re very happy.”

Tutunjian did not respond to requests for comment.

Doherty said his primary interest is in Tutunjian’s property, 2.1 acres across four parcels in the red-hot Fenway area. He plans to build a large residential development on the property, while finding a transportation company to operate the taxi business.

In 2016, a federal judge fined Tutunjian $2 million and sentenced him to 18 months in a halfway houseafter he pleaded guilty to payroll tax evasion, failing to pay overtime to employees, hiring illegal immigrants, and helping workers win federal housing subsidies for which they didn’t qualify.

Those charges stemmed from a 2013 Boston Globe Spotlight Team investigation, which reported that Tutunjian’s managers exploited Boston Cab’s largely immigrant workforce by demanding petty bribes in exchange for shifts and garnishing drivers’ pay to make up for supposed fare shortfalls. IRS agents raided Boston Cab’s Fenway headquarters two months after the series was published and hauled away boxes of financial records.

But the emergence of Lyft, Uber, and other ride-hailing services has arguably done the most damage to Boston Cab. In his lawsuit, Doherty said Tutunjian told him that the decision by public officials to allow ride-hailing firms to operate under less regulation than taxis, and the resulting depreciation of Boston Cab and its medallions, were the primary reasons why he decided to sell.

Some cab drivers are furious that Tutunjian, despite his conviction, is poised to walk away with a $145 million payday.

“He’s not a businessman — he’s a liar,” fumed Ahmed Ali Farah, a Somali immigrant who drove for Boston Cab in the early 2000s. “Those cabs he’s selling, they’re not his. All the money came from the drivers. If there’s justice in this state, the drivers, they own it. But as always, Eddie is the winner and we are the losers.”

Farah, who sued Tutunjian in 2004 for disability discrimination, said there was one silver lining: “I am happy he’s not going to be anyone’s boss anymore.”

The purchase has yet to close, as Doherty said he is still conducting due diligence on Tutunjian’s holdings. Among the complications: arranging the transfer of Tutunjian’s properties and medallions, which are held by dozens of paper corporations.

Doherty will also need approval from the Boston Police Department’s Hackney Carriage Unit to take possession of the medallions. Last summer, with the federal case looming, Tutunjian received police permission to transfer his medallions to his children and his wife, Nancy Tutunjian. But police officials froze that transfer after Tutunjian pleaded guilty.

A police spokesman told the Globe this week the hackney unit ultimately concluded Nancy Tutunjian was “suitable to hold the medallions,” but that the unit “has since learned that the transfer to Nancy has not occurred and other options are being considered by the medallion owner.”

Doherty already has an idea for what he wants to build on the real estate, located near the intersection of Queensberry and Kilmarnock streets: a multifamily residential complex. Zoning rules for the Fenway, he said, would allow a project as large as 400,000 square feet. However, he promised to meet with nearby residents before pushing ahead with redevelopment.

Neighbors, Doherty said, “could be really happy that some operations are departing, but may have reservations about other things, like height.”

But if Doherty’s path to redeveloping the Fenway land is long, the challenge of taking over Boston Cab is even more daunting.

The taxi business is in free fall, mostly thanks to competition from Uber and Lyft. Ridership in Boston is down in recent years, and the value of medallions has plummeted — from nearly $700,000 earlier this decade to below $100,000 by the end of 2016. Several owners who had tried to sell their medallions recently received no offers.

Moreover, some medallion owners say they are having trouble finding drivers willing to pay them for a shift behind the wheel. Advocates for drivers have blasted public officials for not moving to restructure the failing system.

Doherty declined to assign a value to the 362 medallions he is purchasing. But the developer insisted he would not have paid $145 million for the land alone. Cabot, Cabot, & Forbes is in talks with transportation companies, including one that operates a taxi fleet in Canada, and another in Israel.

“We are working on business models we hope and expect will be viable in today’s climate, notwithstanding Uber,” Doherty said, noting recent criticism of ride-hailing services and how they treat their drivers. “We’re inheriting a company in an industry that’s in tremendous flux, so we’re talking to people around the globe that are looking at what to do with these shells that still have some kind of franchise.”

Doherty said he may employ a “Whole Foods/fair trade” model, pitching Boston Cab to progressive consumers as an upscale, higher-priced service that pays its drivers well.

“Uber may well kill everything, but clearly there’s blowback happening,” he said.

Doherty even left the door open for Tutunjian to participate, saying, “these kind of deals are usually more of a collaboration in the end, whether people come to it reluctantly or not.”

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Medallion Financial Calendar 2016 Earnings Release — Yahoo Exchange

Readers:

 

Very important Yahoo exchange with posts from just before earnings release today, March 8, 2017. I know it’s long, but I wanted to post without editing including all MFIN critics and promoters.

 

nick

5 hours ago

For anyone believing in a successful sale of a minority investment in the bank think about this. MFIN has a market cap of $45 million. $45 million would only purchase 15% of the current value of Medallion Bank, based on MFIN’s insane write-ups. If there was any interest in the bank someone would have acquired MFIN, but nobody has because Medallion Bank and MFIN are worth nothing

 

Gordon

5 hours ago

PumpNDump once again by well-connected traders in the Caribbean and Cyprus. DO NOT fall for this tactic used over and over and over again with TAXI/MFIN stock trading. Those on the inside ALWAYS win.

 

lesh

6 hours ago

Does anyone understand why the stock is up? Results are awful, company will be in bankruptcy anyday now. Taxi revenues dropping everyday as well as medallion values.

 

nick

7 hours ago

Without the Medallion Bank write-up this quarter their asset coverage ratio would have been ~195%, below the 200% requirement. This would put them in default as a BDC and would be a default on most of their debt. This is where you can start throwing out the “5-letter F word”

 

PS

7 hours ago

Shorts are having fewer and fewer statements to make about the company because they have almost done everything the shorts said they weren’t doing..lowering medallion valuations…have’t heard any comments from them about that…leverage ratio will be 15% this quarter (I’m not sure what implications of them not for last 2 quarters, but it was addressed as well). They have been and continue to remove exposure to the medallion loans. Looks like they actually did buy back roughly 200,000 shares of stock. 4.7 MILLION shares short, going to be tough to cover!! All the garbage about bankruptcy was all hypothetical what ifs just to improve their short position. With out the 4.7 million shorts, I believe the pps would be at minimum $8 a share mainly because they still have exposure to medallion loans, but that $8 will definitely be higher as they continue to improve the medallion exposure.

 

Gordon

15 hours ago

All readers:

 

Review the earnings release.

 

Read all the posts on Seeking Alpha and on Yahoo Finance Conversations and compare the arguments made by MFIN critics and MFIN promoters.

 

Then using your best judgment, you decide whether or not to sell, hold or buy.

 

As I have since June 2014, I continue to consistently recommend a STRONG SELL.

 

lesh

21 hours ago

Their earnings release is the most misleading piece of literature I have seen for a long time.

Pre tax income fell from +16mm to -10mm before writing off 50+mm of taxi loans. so basically from +16

to -60 to -65mm. and some how they try to write up medallion bank by over $100million dollars. Its complete insanity

 

Jay

21 hours ago

Bank recorded a $13.5 mm loss in Q4, and MFIN turns around and writes up it Investment in Medallion Bank and other controlled subs by $99 mm!!! You can’t make this up.

 

Terry

23 hours ago

Looks like earnings are out now.

 

lesh

23 hours ago

This is a fraud. THey keep writing up medallion bank, even though medallion bank has the most taxi medallion loan exposure of any bank around. Medallion bank is a zero equity value and they are righting it up

 

Sid

23 hours ago

According to the results:

 

“The Company had over $20 million of cash on hand (and in excess of $50 million of cash when combined with Medallion Bank) at year end. The Company believes the best use of its capital is to further grow its consumer and mezzanine lending segments where the Company targets returns on equity of greater than 20%, and to repurchase common shares which are trading at a significant discount to book value.”

 

This gives confidence into 2017.

 

dbtunr

23 hours ago

dividend eliminated. Selling a minority interest in the bank

 

Mike

yesterday

Gordon sell your shares and do us all a favor.

 

BOSCO Y

yesterday

Does anyone know when will MFIN report its earnings?

 

David

2 days ago

Gordon, what is the point of your ad nauseum posting. You post and then you answer your own posts. I check in once in awhile just to see what is happening, but it seems all posters except you have left. We all know how much trouble MFIN

is in so why keep kicking a dead dog.

I don’t know whether it is personal or you are getting paid, but give it a rest.

The company probably won’t make it, the management stinks, they don’t like small investors, they won’t answer questions,

they like Barbie Dolls, ………………….we all know this.

You are like a whiney brat that wont stop crying.

The major shorts have already made a ton of money, I guess they just want thie company to close it’s doors and give up or they won’t be satisfied.

 

Stephen

2 days ago

Is MFIN going to pay dividends this qrt. or not.

 

 

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What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class

By Joan C. Williams
HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW
NOVEMBER 10, 2016

My father-in-law grew up eating blood soup. He hated it, whether because of the taste or the humiliation, I never knew. His alcoholic father regularly drank up the family wage, and the family was often short on food money. They were evicted from apartment after apartment.

He dropped out of school in eighth grade to help support the family. Eventually he got a good, steady job he truly hated, as an inspector in a factory that made those machines that measure humidity levels in museums. He tried to open several businesses on the side but none worked, so he kept that job for 38 years. He rose from poverty to a middle-class life: the car, the house, two kids in Catholic school, the wife who worked only part-time. He worked incessantly. He had two jobs in addition to his full-time position, one doing yard work for a local magnate and another hauling trash to the dump.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, he read The Wall Street Journal and voted Republican. He was a man before his time: a blue-collar white man who thought the union was a bunch of jokers who took your money and never gave you anything in return. Starting in 1970, many blue-collar whites followed his example. This week, their candidate won the presidency.

For months, the only thing that’s surprised me about Donald Trump is my friends’ astonishment at his success. What’s driving it is the class culture gap.

One little-known element of that gap is that the white working class (WWC) resents professionals but admires the rich. Class migrants (white-collar professionals born to blue-collar families) report that “professional people were generally suspect” and that managers are college kids “who don’t know shit about how to do anything but are full of ideas about how I have to do my job,” said Alfred Lubrano in Limbo. Barbara Ehrenreich recalled in 1990 that her blue-collar dad “could not say the word doctorwithout the virtual prefix quack. Lawyers were shysters…and professors were without exception phonies.” Annette Lareau found tremendous resentment against teachers, who were perceived as condescending and unhelpful.

Michèle Lamont, in The Dignity of Working Men, also found resentment of professionals — but not of the rich. “[I] can’t knock anyone for succeeding,” a laborer told her. “There’s a lot of people out there who are wealthy and I’m sure they worked darned hard for every cent they have,” chimed in a receiving clerk. Why the difference? For one thing, most blue-collar workers have little direct contact with the rich outside of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. But professionals order them around every day. The dream is not to become upper-middle-class, with its different food, family, and friendship patterns; the dream is to live in your own class milieu, where you feel comfortable — just with more money. “The main thing is to be independent and give your own orders and not have to take them from anybody else,” a machine operator told Lamont. Owning one’s own business — that’s the goal. That’s another part of Trump’s appeal.

Hillary Clinton, by contrast, epitomizes the dorky arrogance and smugness of the professional elite. The dorkiness: the pantsuits. The arrogance: the email server. The smugness: the basket of deplorables. Worse, her mere presence rubs it in that even women from her class can treat working-class men with disrespect. Look at how she condescends to Trump as unfit to hold the office of the presidency and dismisses his supporters as racist, sexist, homophobic, or xenophobic.

Trump’s blunt talk taps into another blue-collar value: straight talk. “Directness is a working-class norm,” notes Lubrano. As one blue-collar guy told him, “If you have a problem with me, come talk to me. If you have a way you want something done, come talk to me. I don’t like people who play these two-faced games.” Straight talk is seen as requiring manly courage, not being “a total wuss and a wimp,” an electronics technician told Lamont. Of course Trump appeals. Clinton’s clunky admission that she talks one way in public and another in private? Further proof she’s a two-faced phony.

Manly dignity is a big deal for working-class men, and they’re not feeling that they have it. Trump promises a world free of political correctness and a return to an earlier era, when men were men and women knew their place. It’s comfort food for high-school-educated guys who could have been my father-in-law if they’d been born 30 years earlier. Today they feel like losers — or did until they met Trump.

Manly dignity is a big deal for most men. So is breadwinner status: Many still measure masculinity by the size of a paycheck. White working-class men’s wages hit the skids in the 1970s and took another body blow during the Great Recession. Look, I wish manliness worked differently. But most men, like most women, seek to fulfill the ideals they’ve grown up with. For many blue-collar men, all they’re asking for is basic human dignity (male varietal). Trump promises to deliver it.

The Democrats’ solution? Last week the New York Times published an article advising men with high-school educations to take pink-collar jobs. Talk about insensitivity. Elite men, you will notice, are not flooding into traditionally feminine work. To recommend that for WWC men just fuels class anger.

Isn’t what happened to Clinton unfair? Of course it is. It is unfair that she wasn’t a plausible candidate until she was so overqualified she was suddenly unqualified due to past mistakes. It is unfair that Clinton is called a “nasty woman” while Trump is seen as a real man. It’s unfair that Clinton only did so well in the first debate because she wrapped her candidacy in a shimmy of femininity. When she returned to attack mode, it was the right thing for a presidential candidate to do but the wrong thing for a woman to do. The election shows that sexism retains a deeper hold than most imagined. But women don’t stand together: WWC women voted for Trump over Clinton by a whopping 28-point margin — 62% to 34%. If they’d split 50-50, she would have won.

Class trumps gender, and it’s driving American politics. Policy makers of both parties — but particularly Democrats if they are to regain their majorities — need to remember five major points.

Understand That Working Class Means Middle Class, Not Poor

The terminology here can be confusing. When progressives talk about the working class, typically they mean the poor. But the poor, in the bottom 30% of American families, are very different from Americans who are literally in the middle: the middle 50% of families whose median income was $64,000 in 2008. That is the true “middle class,” and they call themselves either “middle class” or “working class.”

“The thing that really gets me is that Democrats try to offer policies (paid sick leave! minimum wage!) that would help the working class,” a friend just wrote me. A few days’ paid leave ain’t gonna support a family. Neither is minimum wage. WWC men aren’t interested in working at McDonald’s for $15 per hour instead of $9.50. What they want is what my father-in-law had: steady, stable, full-time jobs that deliver a solid middle-class life to the 75% of Americans who don’t have a college degree. Trump promises that. I doubt he’ll deliver, but at least he understands what they need.

Understand Working-Class Resentment of the Poor

Remember when President Obama sold Obamacare by pointing out that it delivered health care to 20 million people? Just another program that taxed the middle class to help the poor, said the WWC, and in some cases that’s proved true: The poor got health insurance while some Americans just a notch richer saw their premiums rise.

Progressives have lavished attention on the poor for over a century. That (combined with other factors) led to social programs targeting them. Means-tested programs that help the poor but exclude the middle may keep costs and tax rates lower, but they are a recipe for class conflict. Example: 28.3% of poor families receive child-care subsidies, which are largely nonexistent for the middle class. So my sister-in-law worked full-time for Head Start, providing free child care for poor women while earning so little that she almost couldn’t pay for her own. She resented this, especially the fact that some of the kids’ moms did not work. One arrived late one day to pick up her child, carrying shopping bags from Macy’s. My sister-in-law was livid.

J.D. Vance’s much-heralded Hillbilly Elegy captures this resentment. Hard-living families like that of Vance’s mother live alongside settled families like that of his biological father. While the hard-living succumb to despair, drugs, or alcohol, settled families keep to the straight and narrow, like my parents-in-law, who owned their home and sent both sons to college. To accomplish that, they lived a life of rigorous thrift and self-discipline. Vance’s book passes harsh judgment on his hard-living relatives, which is not uncommon among settled families who kept their nose clean through sheer force of will. This is a second source of resentment against the poor.

Other books that get at this are Hard Living on Clay Street (1972) and Working-Class Heroes (2003).

Understand How Class Divisions Have Translated into Geography

The best advice I’ve seen so far for Democrats is the recommendation that hipsters move to Iowa. Class conflict now closely tracks the urban-rural divide. In the huge red plains between the thin blue coasts, shockingly high numbers of working-class men are unemployed or on disability, fueling a wave of despair deaths in the form of the opioid epidemic.

Vast rural areas are withering away, leaving trails of pain. When did you hear any American politician talk about that? Never.

Jennifer Sherman’s Those Who Work, Those Who Don’t (2009) covers this well.

If You Want to Connect with White Working-Class Voters, Place Economics at the Center

“The white working class is just so stupid. Don’t they realize Republicans just use them every four years, and then screw them?” I have heard some version of this over and over again, and it’s actually a sentiment the WWC agrees with, which is why they rejected the Republican establishment this year. But to them, the Democrats are no better.

Both parties have supported free-trade deals because of the net positive GDP gains, overlooking the blue-collar workers who lost work as jobs left for Mexico or Vietnam. These are precisely the voters in the crucial swing states of Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania that Democrats have so long ignored. Excuse me. Who’s stupid?

One key message is that trade deals are far more expensive than we’ve treated them, because sustained job development and training programs need to be counted as part of their costs.

At a deeper level, both parties need an economic program that can deliver middle-class jobs. Republicans have one: Unleash American business. Democrats? They remain obsessed with cultural issues. I fully understand why transgender bathrooms are important, but I also understand why progressives’ obsession with prioritizing cultural issues infuriates many Americans whose chief concerns are economic.

Back when blue-collar voters used to be solidly Democratic (1930–1970), good jobs were at the core of the progressive agenda. A modern industrial policy would follow Germany’s path. (Want really good scissors? Buy German.) Massive funding is needed for community college programs linked with local businesses to train workers for well-paying new economy jobs. Clinton mentioned this approach, along with 600,000 other policy suggestions. She did not stress it.

Avoid the Temptation to Write Off Blue-Collar Resentment as Racism

Economic resentment has fueled racial anxiety that, in some Trump supporters (and Trump himself), bleeds into open racism. But to write off WWC anger as nothing more than racism is intellectual comfort food, and it is dangerous.

National debates about policing are fueling class tensions today in precisely the same way they did in the 1970s, when college kids derided policemen as “pigs.” This is a recipe for class conflict. Being in the police is one of the few good jobs open to Americans without a college education. Police get solid wages, great benefits, and a respected place in their communities. For elites to write them off as racists is a telling example of how, although race- and sex-based insults are no longer acceptable in polite society, class-based insults still are.

I do not defend police who kill citizens for selling cigarettes. But the current demonization of the police underestimates the difficulty of ending police violence against communities of color. Police need to make split-second decisions in life-threatening situations. I don’t. If I had to, I might make some poor decisions too.

Saying this is so unpopular that I risk making myself a pariah among my friends on the left coast. But the biggest risk today for me and other Americans is continued class cluelessness. If we don’t take steps to bridge the class culture gap, when Trump proves unable to bring steel back to Youngstown, Ohio, the consequences could turn dangerous.

In 2010, while on a book tour for Reshaping the Work-Family Debate, I gave a talk about all of this at the Harvard Kennedy School. The woman who ran the speaker series, a major Democratic operative, liked my talk. “You are saying exactly what the Democrats need to hear,” she mused, “and they’ll never listen.” I hope now they will.

***

Pre-order Joan Williams’s book, White Working Class.

 


Joan C. Williams is Distinguished Professor of Law and Founding Director of the Center of WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Her newest book is the forthcoming White Working Class.

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Why the White Working Class Voted for Trump

HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW
NOVEMBER 18, 2016

Joan C. Williams, distinguished professor and director of the Center for WorkLife Law at UC Hastings, discusses the white working class voters who helped elect Republican Donald Trump as U.S. President, and why Democrat Hillary Clinton did not connect with them. Williams is the author of the article, “What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class.”

CURT NICKISCH: Welcome to the HBR IdeaCast. I’m Curt Nickisch. Oh my, oh my, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, and Wisconsin, and looking like Michigan too. Call it steel country, coal country. Call it the rust belt, middle America. Call it the land of manufacturing. This cluster of states was key. They made Donald Trump the next president of the United States.

Joining us now to talk about why is Joan C. Williams. She’s the director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. She’s also the author of the recent HBR article, “What So Many People Don’t Get About the US Working Class.” Joan, thanks for being on the show.

JOAN WILLIAMS: Delighted to be here.

CURT NICKISCH: Joan, a lot of people are talking about your recent HBR article. Some people are calling it the best analysis they’ve seen of the US presidential election. It’s gone viral. It’s helped a lot of people understand why this political veteran, Democrat Hillary Clinton, lost to the brash newcomer, Republican Donald Trump. And you wrote in this article at hbr.org that class trumps gender, and it’s driving American politics. What do you mean by that?

JOAN WILLIAMS: Well, I think in many ways, the fact is the Democrats almost won. That’s important to keep in mind. But one of the key reasons they lost was because of what I call class cluelessness, that among Americans progressives, there has been a very, very insistent focus on the poor, on gender, on race, but there has not been a focus on the white working class.

That’s the group that in some ways, by some analyses, delivered this election to Trump. Trump really has found his [INAUDIBLE] in channeling the anger of the white working class, and the reason that that’s worked so well is because of class dynamics driving American politics, about which Democrats are unfortunately largely clueless.

CURT NICKISCH: What are those forces? Why did Donald Trump appeal to the white working class?

JOAN WILLIAMS: The white working class– it’s very well documented over decades of studies– resents professionals but admires the rich. They resent professionals in part because they see them every day. They’re doctors. They’re teachers. And they feel that those people who are more educated are often looking down on them, feel superior to them, and I must say that Hillary’s deplorable comment seemed to confirm their worst fears, just as Obama’s earlier comment that there are some people who cling to guns and religion.

I don’t really fault these two candidates. I fault the environment that both of them grew out of, which, while it has been exquisitely attuned to racial and gender disadvantage, some time has really been tone deaf to class disadvantage. So that resentment of professionals, unfortunately, Hilary was perfectly attuned to trigger.

CURT NICKISCH: That disdain of professionals made me think, when I read that in your article, of reading the scene in a book by Rick Bass. It’s a nonfiction book. He worked in the oil industry. These drillers were out there. They’d be drilling exploration wells for oil.

And he would come in to analyze the cores that they pulled out to see what it said about what was down there. And whenever he would show up, they would say, oh, look, here comes the easy money.

JOAN WILLIAMS: Yes, perfect.

CURT NICKISCH: Yeah. Where does this disdain of professionals come from? Because just from a business standpoint, those people are important to the value chain of being able to sell the oil that those same workers are drilling.

JOAN WILLIAMS: I think to understand the disdain of professionals, you have to understand that there really are two very distinct class cultures. Progressive beliefs– their job networks are national. Their networks are national. They have what are called entrepreneurial networks, very broad but quite shallow.

Working class families have very different social networks, deep ones with a very limited group of people who all know each, and that’s the way they get jobs. That’s the way they do child care sometimes. That’s the way they get their roof fixed.

So when the white working class looks at professionals, they look at what you have to do to maintain this broad, shallow entrepreneurial network, which is you have to connect with people socially. That’s a combination of business and personal, and you have to do office politics. And all of that these working class people think of as morally bankrupt because they don’t have to do a lot of that– the men, anyway, in their jobs. If you’re filling a purely technical role, you just go in and you fill your technical role. And you can tell it like it is.

And so these blue collar guys are very proud of the fact that unlike professionals who have to suck up to all and sundry, they can tell it like it is. They can be very direct and straightforward.

This is one of the reasons that Trump connects with them so well. He connects with them because he feels the same anger at being rejected and belittled by the elite, in this case the Manhattan business elite, but who’s counting? And culturally, then, they are connecting with Trump in a way that they totally did not connect with Hillary, who is the epitome of the no-class girl, became a lawyer, professional technocrat, all the things that this working class culture is very suspicious of.

And then, by the way, she’s a woman. So not only do you have this belittling because of the class dimension. You have this upper-middle-class woman calling them ignorant. And what we saw in this election is that the working class women tend to side with the working class guys. If she had just gotten 50/50, she would’ve won. African-Americans voted for Obama. Women did not vote for Hillary. That’s part of the deep structure that’s different between gender and race.

CURT NICKISCH: So you wrote in this piece about your own father-in-law, who was white working class. I think about my parents who are just a generation of the farm, and I’m a little surprised that this class still went for a tycoon and big towers in New York City.

JOAN WILLIAMS: No, it makes perfect sense. If you’ve read the literature about the working class, the white working class, it makes perfect sense. The fantasy, the aspirational dream of the white working class, is to have their own networks that they’re familiar with, their own family structure, their own friendship structure, their own food– be exactly the way they are, just with more money. That’s what Trump represents as a dream.

The aspirational dream is to own your own business, not to be ordered around by anyone. That’s why one of the best blue collar jobs there are is being a truck driver, soon to disappear, but nobody bosses you around. Nobody controls you every day. Nobody controls your every move. You don’t have to suck up to anyone. You’re just your own boss, and that is the aspirational dream of the American working class.

CURT NICKISCH: The Democrats would say, look, Donald Trump isn’t going to change any of these fundamental economic dynamics. He may be promising to bring back factories and jobs from Mexico. It may be promising to deport people who may be taking their jobs. And meanwhile, Democrats would say, look, we actually have policies that will help these people– raising the minimum wage, more family medical leave, things like that, benefits for workers in that class. Why didn’t that work?

JOAN WILLIAMS: That’s just another example, unfortunately, of class cluelessness. First of all, if you are somebody in the bottom 30% in poor families, an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour– hugely important.

If you are somebody in the middle 50%, median income $64,000, you don’t give a hoot about the minimum wage. That’s not where you want. You don’t want a McDonald’s job that pays $15 an hour rather than $7.50. You want a quote, “real job.” You want a job that’s going to deliver a middle class standard of living, which is, after all, what your dad had.

And so I think the Democrats don’t understand that what these folks want in the rust belt is what their families had for several generations, which was good jobs available to people who didn’t finish college that allowed them to have a middle class life.

Now, is Trump going to deliver steel jobs to Youngstown, Ohio? I don’t think so. One of the things that I fear going forward, particularly if people don’t listen to this message about the class culture gap and the need to focus on the economic future of people in the rural areas of this country in the rust belt areas of this country, is when Trump fails to bring back those steel jobs to Youngstown, Ohio, what’s going to happen then?

Unless we as Americans, right, left, and center, begin to listen to the pain of these working class people, we are going to create an even more dangerous situation than we have right now. It is no longer an option not to listen to them.

CURT NICKISCH: Let’s talk about going forward, because they’ve demonstrated their political power in this election. This election has exposed a lot of the economic pain that has come from freer trade, from globalization, from a changing economy. How can the next president of the United States– how can he help those people live the class lives that they want to, but also have a share in where the world and the economy is going?

JOAN WILLIAMS: Republicans’ answer is unleash American business, and we’ll give you all good jobs. And you know, I hope it’s true. I hope it’s true. But the point, I think, for Democrats is they got to have an answer. And paid leave, seven days’ paid leave– that’s not the answer. A high minimum wage– super important for low-income people. For these working class people, that’s not the answer. So how can you attract these voters? How can you give them something that they will value?

Number one is to give them respect, not to say they’re just stupid. The second thing is to realize that these trade deals– they are good for GDP, but they are really bad for some American workers, and that means if we ever again get to a situation where we can possibly have a trade deal, these trade deals are more expensive than we’ve been thinking of them and as, because we need to provide transition assistance to the American workers whose jobs leave for Vietnam.

The third thing that’s really important, I think, one of the things that becomes absolutely central, is not a four-year college degree for everybody, but very high quality programs in community colleges that give you training for a specific blue collar job in your local area because again, these are people whose networks are tight and deep. They do not want to leave.

Hillary did mention that, but she mentioned it within 600 million other things that she also mentioned. But those good blue collar jobs that you’re trained for in the community college system– that should be absolutely at the center of American politics, and so far, it’s been way at the edge.

CURT NICKISCH: I want to mention one other answer that came in the presidential election eight years ago when John McCain ran against– John McCain was a Republican candidate and had a campaign stop in Youngstown, Ohio. He said to somebody who asked him about what he’s going to do about bringing back jobs, he said, I can’t tell you that these jobs are ever going to come back. These workers need a second chance. They deserve it, but I can’t look you in the eye and tell you that the steel mills are coming back.

And I say this because John McCain as a Republican won more votes, at least at this point in the counting for the current presidential election, than Trump, where they took different sides of the issue. One said that the jobs aren’t coming back. They’re gone. The other said we’re going to bring them back. And I just wonder, what does that tell you about the white working class and the political messages that have been appealing to them?

JOAN WILLIAMS: Yeah, I think this election– first, the only way this election makes sense is that this election was about emotion, not facts. People were not focused on policy proposals. They were focused on– particularly this group were focused on the fact that they feel abandoned. They feel disrespected, and they wanted someone to reflect that and to channel that anger and to channel that sense of disenfranchisement. And Trump was perfectly willing to channel that.

I think he said a lot of things that weren’t true. I think he said a lot of things that were way over the line. But whole groups of people– they didn’t care, because their attitude is they’re all lying to us anyway, and at least he is hearing me. He understands the depth of my disillusion with this country. This country is not giving me the dream that should be mine. And that was enough. Their expectations of American politics have sunk so low that just being heard and being recognized and having that anger channeled– that was what they voted for.

CURT NICKISCH: Joan, your article has gotten lots of– just a huge response, and it’s helped a lot of people understand what was happening with this election and why. One of the criticisms is that it gave short shrift to racism, to xenophobia, to fear of immigrants. And I just wonder what you have to say to people who would say, look, this is cherry picking one thing that tipped the election for Trump when he appealed to other sentiments that maybe made just as big of a difference.

JOAN WILLIAMS: Listen, did racism play a role in this election? Are you kidding? Are you breathing? One of the alarming things about this election is that the kinds of racist and misogynistic statements that I grew up with but were out of fashion for decades now seem to be having a resurgence.

I am not saying that racism didn’t play a part in this election, because it did. All I’m saying is that writing off the white working class as beneath our interest because all that’s going on in racism is the kind of intellectual comfort food that is truly dangerous and we can no longer afford.

The xenophobia is more complicated. There was demonization of immigrants in this election. One of the things that is another element of the class culture gap is that white working class people tend to be extremely patriotic. One of the axes that makes the working class feel good about itself is that they’re citizens of, by some measures, the most powerful country in the world, and they’re very, very proud of it. And so the patriotism is in itself part of the expression of the white working class.

Now, in this election, it’s turned into something truly, truly ugly, and it has turned into a kind of vicious anti-immigrant and, in some context, racist sentiments that almost all Americans, if they were really being their best selves, would distance themselves from. So I think the opportunity here going forward– you say to them, I hear you. I hear that you’re angry. I want to understand why you’re angry. I may not agree with it all, but I’m here to listen, and that’s what I’m suggesting left, right, and middle. That’s what I’m suggesting that we do.

CURT NICKISCH: That’s Joan C. Williams. She joined us from San Francisco, where she’s a distinguished professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law. She’s also the author of the recent HBR article, “What So Many People Don’t Get About the US Working Class,” which was based in part on research from her book, Reshaping the Work-Family Debate– Why Men and Class Matter. Joan, thanks so much for talking to the HBR IdeaCast.

JOAN WILLIAMS: Thanks so much. It was my pleasure.

CURT NICKISCH: I’m Curt Nickisch with Harvard Business Review. We’re on Twitter at HarvardBiz. Follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn, and go to hbr.org to read and learn more about economics and society and other business and management topics. Thanks so much for listening to the HBR IdeaCast.

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