The Spine

Albright And Baker In Business


Help, Madeleine Albright is a money manager. Where the hell is the SEC?

Albright Capital Management, of which former secretary of state Madeleine Albright is chair, is an investment adviser, and it has now partnered with PGGM to invest $329 million of the latter's money in "long-term, multi-asset class, investment in emerging markets." PGGM is a Dutch pension fund for workers in the healthcare and social work sector. Phew, it's not an American pension fund. So the retirement of American workers is not endangered by Mrs. Albright. But Holland is an old ally. It deserves better from us. On the other hand, you take your risks in the capital markets. Right? Yes, you win, you lose.

Albright's statement was the usual phoney baloney. "Identification of common goals was a prominent factor behind our for desire for PGGM to act as Strategic Investor. PGGM and Albright Capital believe that integrating global citizenship, good corporate governance, socially responsible policies, and transparency into a comprehensive emerging markets investment program will improve results."

Albright Capital is a unit of The Albright Group, manned and womanned by Clinton administration executives.

The last time the company was in the news was when one of Albright's partners, Carol Browner, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, lobbied Congress on behalf of Dubai's effort to take over the management of six American ports. The lobbying failed. By the way, the standards for getting approval for foreign takeovers of American operations in the U.S. on security criteria have gotten much stricter. This
upsets free marketeers, But, when the government may pry into a whole class of citizens' phone calls, stringent standards for foreign companies running American international traffic seems quite tolerable.

And, oh yes, there was also the time when Madeleine and one of her predecessors tried to fix a deal with Kuwait to get Iraq to make good on its debts to the Emirate. The predecessor was none other than James Baker, on behalf of the Carlyle Group, also acting, but not acting for President Bush. The arrangement was revealed by The Nation in
a carefully detailed story by Naomi Klein. It's actually hair-raising. Reading about the Baker-Albright consortium and its
portentous players makes you want to... well, I thought of a more disgusting metaphor, but "wash your hands" will do. In the end, apparently, the deal fell through. At least, the deal as we knew about it fell through.

Money, politics; big money, high politics. Maybe, there has always been some travel between the two realms. But not in the age of Thomas Jefferson, although I really don't know. On the other hand, I do know about the age of Elihu Root and Charles Evans Hughes and Dean Acheson. James Baker and Madeleine Albright would disgust them, positively disgust them. Oh, by the way, Mrs. Albright was a member of the board of directors of the New York Stock Exchange when it voted to give $187.5 million in compensation to Dick Grasso, a sum that has stunned even Forbes magazine. Don't forget, though, that Albright is a passionate Democrat, a passionate egalitarian Democrat. After all, she is co-chair of the Commission for Legal Empowerment of the Poor.

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