Magazine

Will the Big Apple Keep Its Shine?


If New York City was able to recover from the devastating fire of 1835 that destroyed 700 buildings, it can certainly return to glory from this most recent disaster ("The future of New York," Cover Story, Oct. 22). The U.S. must recognize that New York is the economic and intellectual center of our nation and do what is required to rebuild.

New York has balanced its budget for the past 20 years; the country can reward this fiscal discipline and can speed recovery by appropriating the additional $54 billion in incentives, tax breaks, and subsidies that the city has requested. Even at a total of $71.5 billion (including the $17.5 billion granted in September), the fact that a healthy New York City sends $9 billion a year more to Washington than it receives back in aid further justifies this commitment.

I have been a BusinessWeek reader for many years and always look forward to each issue. Keep up the good work: Your readers depend on it.

Erik L. Johansson

West Hartford, Conn.

It almost seems implausible that cities have utility. As a political anthropologist, I must constantly remind myself of the following: The renaissance began the process of pooling resources for public solutions. Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates has taken those powers and invested them in private individuals. No, for some time now, New York City has not had a future. The new cities are found on the Internet and not in any physical locale. To think otherwise is to obscure reality.

Thomas S. Stein

Neenah, Wis.

London did not die at the end of the British Empire. But it was never quite the same, either.

Gary Anderson

Brooklyn, N.Y.

I am a survivor of the Kobe earthquake in Japan, and New York is my second home. Right after the biggest earthquake, our community united to rebuild Kobe, just as New Yorkers are doing now. In my neighborhood, utility service came back after one month. In three to five months, the highways were repaired, and public transportation was up and running. People lived in temporary units for one to two years until permanent houses were built. Everyone worked physically and mentally to rebuild the city. And Kobe's baseball team, the Orix Blue Wave (Ichiro Suzuki's former team in Japan), won the series for Kobe's citizens that year.

Gary Becker points out that Kobe's citizens rebuilt the city in one year ("Don't be surprised if the recovery is rapid," Economic Viewpoint, Oct. 22). The recovery of New York may not be quite so speedy, because the city suffered a terrorist attack and not a natural disaster. We had only one goal: Rebuild the city we loved.

Now, people all over the world are angry, scared, and worried. There are many things to be accomplished and many problems to be solved. I hope our world leaders will take wise steps to bring peace again.

Taeko Kondo

Carmel, N.Y. I am very disappointed by "On the firing line at Qwest" (Information Technology, Oct. 29). The story reports--uncritically--the efforts of a few Morgan Stanley analysts to impugn my character and Qwest's integrity as a distraction while regulators and investors criticize Morgan Stanley for the well-known coziness between its analysts and the companies they cover.

Qwest has always disclosed its financial condition and results of operations in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). We certainly do not put out information intended to support growth projections that we do not believe. And there was certainly nothing "inevitable" about our downward guidance on September 10, if by that the BusinessWeek reporter meant to imply that our financial disclosure somehow misstated our real growth rates.

We took our numbers down on September 10 after reviewing economic data and internal sales information in late August and early September that showed the nation and our 14-state Western region heading for a longer, deeper recession than most people had predicted even a month earlier. We also were aware that the deteriorating economy was beginning to affect the mix of products and services we sell our wholesale customers. They were beginning to move away from purchases of capacity--called indefeasible rights of use (IRUs)--on our national fiber-optic network and toward shorter-term lease arrangements for that capacity.

We are in good company. Other telecommunications companies have recently reduced their own guidance, and some of them have done so because they observed the same trends in the wholesale market.

I suppose that the article shouldn't have been all that surprising, as we've never had a particularly good relationship with your magazine. Two years ago you said Qwest made a "colossal mistake" in bidding for US West, that Qwest couldn't capture US West, and that, in any case, Qwest couldn't produce any operational synergies from the acquisition.

Wrong on all counts. Today, we're a company with a strong balance sheet, significant cash flows, and the most technologically advanced network in the world, and we're almost ready to re-enter the long-distance market in our 14-state local-service market that we had to surrender when we closed our acquisition. In fact, our acquisition is often cited as one of the most daring and prescient transactions of the last decade, where a decidedly New Economy firm buys a decidedly Old Economy firm--and thrives afterwards.

Your reporter seems to think I've lost a little of my zip. So there's no doubt, let me repeat that I am still very confident that Qwest is the new model for the telecommunications industry. This chatter about accounting issues is beside the point. The misfortunes of our national and regional economy, along with investors' flight from growth stocks to the value and dividend plays, may slow our emergence as an industry leader. It will happen when the economy recovers and investors again turn to growth stocks.

We take some comfort in the well-known line from the early days of the Clinton Administration, "It's the economy, stupid." How could your reporter have forgotten it?

Joseph P. Nacchio

Chairman and CEO

Qwest Communications International

Denver "Seeking an anthrax cure in your spice garden" (Developments to Watch, Oct. 22) correctly points out that my tests with oregano oil showed promising results when used to treat staphylococcus (staph) infections in mice. However, I personally have never tested oregano oil--or any other substance--on anthrax. The test-tube results described in the article were not obtained at Georgetown University.

Harry G. Preuss, M.D.

Georgetown University Medical Center

Washington


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