August 19, 2019

What is the NYT's "massive unfunded liability" that Trump is tweeting about?


I see "Trump Hit With Fact-Check After Claiming New York Times Is ‘Losing A Fortune’/The president said the paper — which recently reported a spike in revenue and strong readership — would be 'out of business soon after I leave office'" (HuffPo), but that only addresses the question of whether the Times is losing money. ( A NYT tweeter says "Revenues up, subscriptions at a record high, profits at $37.9 million in the second quarter.") It says nothing about the "unfunded liability."

Generally:
In finance and economics, a liability is a legal obligation of a person, organization or government entity to pay a debt arising from a past or current transaction or action. In brief, a liability is a claim on the debtor's current or future assets. An unfunded liability is a liability that does not have current or projected assets to cover the liability; therefore it is said to be unfunded.
I'm seeing the term most often used in reference to pension plans.

So... Trump is either bullshitting or saying something sophisticated about accounting. Or... what do you think?

What is Trump saying about the NYT and "massive unfunded liability"? Choose what you think is the most likely explanation:
 
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158 comments:

Bay Area Guy said...

I support all forms of bullshitting when discussing the racist NYT.

henry said...

Unionized newspaper with lots of pressmen over it's history, shifting to electronic (where the subscriptions and profits are). The pension fund is "off the balance sheet" and not on the income statement. Is it fully funded? Or have contributions cratered as assets get sold off for pennies(think Boston Globe). Did the buyer of the globe pick up that pension liability? I wouldn't.

Shouting Thomas said...

I tend to agree with Bay Area Guy. Since the NYT announced publicly that it would make up any kind of shit to defeat Trump, all rules are off and everything is permissible.

I suspect that Trump is separating out the newspaper business of the NYT from its media subsidiaries.

Hey Skipper said...

[Shouting Thomas:] I suspect that Trump is separating out the newspaper business of the NYT from its media subsidiaries.

I suspect Trump has done his homework.

Which is pretty much what you said.

narciso said...

Carlos slims thinking of him as the mexican warren buffett underwrites the times, why ive dubbed it carlos slims

Earnest Prole said...

If there’s one thing Trump knows more about than any person in America, it’s how to go bankrupt on a yuge scale.

narciso said...

Carlos slims availed himself of that tax provision, like chaim saban of univision

Fen said...

He's onto something and uses inaccuracy to get the conversation going in the right direction

Ah, someone is finally figuring Trump out.

I said I was wrong when I said you "are smarter than this". I was wrong. :)

chuck said...

I have no idea. But here's hoping :)

Fen said...

But again, you split one answer into two. "Trump is right" = 81%

Nonapod said...

I have no idea what the financial situation of the NYT really is. But I wouldn't fully trust what they themselves say or their allies and sycophants in the greater media would claim about it, they've proven themselves to be deeply dishonest and biased.

I do know that unfounded pensions have sunk a great many companies and have been a bane for various government organizations forever. So it certainly wouldn't surprise me if their pension liabilities greatly exceeded their projected revenues. If so, their future survival would depend on Carlos Slim's or some other wealthy benefactor's willingness to lose a lot of money for the sake of propaganda I guess.

Birkel said...

Trump has not gone bankrupt.
Trump has had legal entities go bankrupt.
They are separate and distinct from Trump the person.

Earnest Prole uses shorthand to spread a Big Lie.

Nonapod said...

*unfunded

Fen said...

Weird how the Left got all their "collusion with foreigners" propaganda from a newspaper own by a foreigner.

John henry said...

Earnest Prole,

Did anyone lose any money in Donald Trump's bankruptcies? Funny, I don't remember hearing of any.

Got any names?

Other than Trump himself. He wound up in a deep, deep hole.

John Henry

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

He’s almost certainly talking about pensions. It wouldn’t be hard for Trump to hear that the NYT is playing fast and loose with pension funding. I imagine such information is the stuff of mere restaurant gossip in Manhattan.

traditionalguy said...

Running the NYT is like owning Greenland. It's a big unfunded liability but it's a tactical win. DJT probably knows some inside baseball on Manhattan real estate deals.

narciso said...

Bob maxwell built his newspaper empire on pension debt

Dave Begley said...

Maybe the WSJ could investigate. Or Fox News although the TV people do little. Maybe CNBC.

The NYT is a public company. Wall Street writes reports on companies. Trump read the reports. Or his people did. That's the answer.

Mike Sylwester said...

My wife brought the Sunday NYT home from work yesterday, and it included the 1619 magazine.

The magazine reports that American history is all about slavery.

John henry said...

And 4 bankruptcies out of 100 or so businesses? Thats a pretty good record.

60-80% of all businesses fail in 5 years or less.

Not many people can claim a 4% failure rate.

John Henry

Darrell said...

They still have to pay for The Wall.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

TRUMP gets this.

Let me try to 'splain. This will be long :-D

Unfunded liabilities are those where you OWE money and do not have the money actually set aside for when it comes due. Paying the debt when due is the kicker.

Almost everyone here posting has unfunded liabilities. Your mortgage. Your auto loan. Your credit cards. They generally aren't a problem because the due date is far in the future and you can make payments....or in the case of credit cards is perpetual (no due date).

However, if you are a business and have a loan for something large and are paying interest only and have a set due date where the principal is due, you are "supposed" to be setting aside funding for that liability. That way the debt is fully or partially funded. This is good practice and creates a better bottom line AND increases your credit rating. (Stock analysts look very hard at these figures)

When the Devil comes calling and asks for that $500,000 or $1.5 million in principal, you need to have it now or pay the consequences. You either.....find another loan or default or sell your collateral. Perhaps the NYT has collateralized their building or something of real value that will be liquidated.

The Commercial Lender who sees you have been UNprudent and haven't set aside funding, is not going to give you a favorable deal on the new loan and will charge you a higher rate of interest for the risk.

As this default, refinance, default, refinance scheme piles up, eventually you will not be able to find anyone to bail you out.

Trump understands this. Your lender (I used to be many many years ago a commercial lending officer) also gets this.

The United States runs on unfunded liabilities in the form of Treasury Bonds. We don't have billions of dollars to pay China or whomever holds those bonds when they are due. We have to refinance...over and over and over.

Pension plans are unfunded based on future promises and by not putting enough money aside to pay those promises when they come due. State and Local unfunded liabilities nation wild are pegged at about 5 TRILLION DOLLARS California is 1/5 of that total TRILLIONS of dollars!!!

Over spending and borrowing money and losing your credibility ....like the NYT or the US is a recipe for financial disaster. Trying to get this monkey off our backs is something that requires drastic measures or bankruptcy.

The NYT is in financial trouble. Anyone who can read a balance sheet, knows accounting, and has access to the public financial reports and stock analysis reports can see this.

Trump gets it!

Michael K said...

Conrad Black's biography goes into Trump's financial history in depth, as only a guy experienced with big business can do.

Trump has skirted bankruptcy but recovered,

My college roommate's father was a real estate developer in southern California in the 1920s to 1940s. He went from the top to bottom three times. Ended on top, fortunately for my roommate.

Heartless Aztec said...

I wanted to vote for #2 & 3 together. The survey wouldn't let me. Soooo - no vote.

J Lee said...

Trump donor Kelsey Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners (Sunoco), is a partner with Carlos Slim on two major pipeline projects to carry natural gas from the U.S. to Mexico, possibly for eventual shipment to Asia from an LNG port on the Mexican west coast.

So Trump could have a back channel into what Slim is thinking about, in terms of the future of the Times -- it's stable right now, because it's bumped up its circulation by giving Trump opponents what they want to hear, but there could be some financial hurdles on the horizon due to mandated pensions or benefits the paper faces (or I suppose, Slim could see some future Democratic president trying to cut his natural gas supply off by attempting to ban fossil fuels, and might put the screws to the Times if they too strongly supported that person.)

tim in vermont said...

"The magazine reports that American history is all about slavery.”

It’s a cultural revolution. You might want to start getting in shape for the coming struggle sessions the tone of your post suggests you are going to require.

CJinPA said...

This tactic has been attributed to Nixon, but a lot of pols use it. One time Nixon was going to say his opponent did something "90% of the time." Advisers told him that was wrong, it was more like 60%. "Say 90 and let him deny it" was the probably apocryphal reply.

It's a good tactic. In fact, the New York Times is really, really at good printing articles that exaggerate a problem (or lie) to tell a broader "truth." It's "telling a Good Lie." See: Brown, Michael.

Xmas said...

Any time you hear "Unfunded Liability" nowdays, it's a Pension Fund of some sort that is being shorted payments. As a Union shop, they are part of several multiemployer pension funds, which means they are on the line for both their own employees and all members of the union if they are the last union shop left in the business.

You can find this in their 10K filings. In the 2018 filing, on page 97, you can see that 3 of their 5 multiemployer funds they are part of are critically underfunded.

Drago said...

Earnest Prole: "If there’s one thing Trump knows more about than any person in America, it’s how to go bankrupt on a yuge scale."

Define "yuge".

Be explicit.

Birkel said...

Drago,
Huge means Chicago or bigger to me.
Maybe Birmingham or Detroit is a lower limit.

Damn those Democratics and their bankruptcies!

tim in vermont said...

Was the US a rich country in the decades following the civil war? We weren’t a world power until decades after the war to end slavery ended.

policraticus said...

This is one of the few times I couldn't find an answer that suited my opinion. Some combination of 2 and 3 seems most likely, but we aren't given nearly enough data to determine the value of the tweet in relation to the truth. Of course, with Trump there is a non-zero chance either 1 or 4 are the actual truth.

rhhardin said...

The NYT has enormous goodwill, probably. That's on the asset line.

wild chicken said...

Did anyone lose any money in Donald Trump's bankruptcies?


Err, just his creditors, whoever they were.

Nonapod said...

CJinPA said...It's a good tactic. In fact, the New York Times is really, really at good printing articles that exaggerate a problem (or lie) to tell a broader "truth." It's "telling a Good Lie." See: Brown, Michael.

Exactly. It's certainly very plausible that it's at least partially true that the NYT has liability problems with pensions and other expenses. Maybe they're not yet what a CPA might consider dire yet, but who knows? Just looking at an organizations revenue as a measure of it's future viability obviously doesn't tell the whole story. And Trump spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) about the NYT's liabilities is just doing exactly what the NYT themselves have done with Trump for the past 3+ years with regards to Russia collusion.

daskol said...

Goodwill on the balance sheet, pensions off of it...what could possibly go wrong?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Edit. NYT "May be" in trouble. I believe that they are. I haven't looked at the current financials and don't feel like checking the stock annual report, 10K etc I believe on past reports that the NYT is not doing well financially.

This article is from a decidedly biased reporting site and is from a few years ago, however the figures they report were current at that time.

I don't think that the NYT stock outlook has gotten any better since then and that their business model is not doing well.

Currently, if I were still in the business, would not recommend a stock purchase based on outlook and dividend yield to current price. :-D

Sydney said...

Remember, before he became president, Trump was part of the New York City cocktail circuit. He was actually someone the elites like being around. I'm sure he heard gossip about the solvency of the New York Times at those parties. Probably heard lots of gossip that's useful to him now.

Drago said...

Ouch! Now Obama is blasting Biden for the second time in just a few days via the Democrat-New York Times with an article explaining how obama was telling Biden's old and out of touch (too funny) advisors to do everything they could to stop Biden from embarrassing himself!!

LOL

I'm going out on a limb right now and predicting Biden is gone within 3 months, probably using a "poor health" excuse. Even if he limps his way into 2020 he'll never make it to the Iowa caucuses.

Earnest Prole said...

You make it sound like bankruptcy is a bad thing.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Newspapers are dying all around.

The Democratic Party Paper Denver Post is dying. Good riddance.

Bob Boyd said...

I dunno if they have an unfunded laibility or not, but if they do, I can imagine them thinking a Dem president would bail them out with taxpayer money.

Drago said...

Dust Bunny Queen: "Edit. NYT "May be" in trouble. I believe that they are."

They have been for a long long time and at some point you run out of Carlos Slim's and other potential suitors money.

I can still see some lefty billionaire coming along and pumping cash into the dying cow simply as a vanity project, similar to Bezos at the Washington Toast, but that's about it.

The NYT is NOT evolving. In fact, it is explicitly going down the LLR Chuck-approved Rachel Maddow political sinkhole. Similar to #StrongCNNDefender LLR Chuck's beloved CNN.

Drago said...

Earnest Prole: "You make it sound like bankruptcy is a bad thing."

Let's try again:

Define "yuge".

Be explicit.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Then there is also this current article about the revenue decline from Business Insider

The New York Times Company tanks 20% after saying ad revenue will decline next quarter (NYT)

bagoh20 said...

Unfunded liabilities are what the NYT usually endorses, so I expect it's true. If it wasn't, the claimed would have been debunked from the mountaintops of Manhattan.

Birkel said...

Earnest Prole,
Just type "I was wrong" and save us all the trouble of mocking you. Or if you prefer to save face type "My flippancy led me to err" or some such.

As for bankruptcy being bad:
It is not. Bankruptcy is a tool to manage risk. Both sides are sophisticated enough to understand the possibility in private transactions. I do draw a distinction with public entities spending OPM.

I do not think sophisticated lenders deserve sympathy.

rhhardin said...

Fixed pensions are a bet that inflation will reduce the value of what you pay out. Then inflation stopped happening, and they're no longer looking at a small future liability.

Sometimes expressed as low interest rates being below what was planned for, but it's really the same thing.

Companies mostly bailed out where possible by switching to contributions to 401k's, and let you run the investment risk instead of them.

Crazy Jane said...

As one who spends part of each year in the very blue precincts of the NY suburbs and the LA beaches, I know a hella lotta leftists and count them as friends. Neither they nor I "get" the current NYT. It's business section isn't about business, and its sports section isn't about sports. It runs an expensive-to-generate children's section just about every week, but the section doesn't cultivate kid loyalty by running cartoons, the entry point to appreciating newspapers for generations.

Its current business model is to gather unto itself readers who hate Donald Trump and, secondly, are eager for instruction in the week's social justice topics. It looks like a newspaper but no longer conducts itself as one.

As such, its managers should hope that Trump is re-elected. If he is not, its raison d'etre is lost.

(Stock tip: If you trust the pollsters and pundits next year when they promise a Democratic victory, run -- don't walk -- to your brokerage firm and buy puts on NYT stock.)

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I do not think sophisticated lenders deserve sympathy.

Exactly.

They took a chance, made a bet when they made the loan. They charge interest and fees commensurate with the risk that they are taking.

Loans the size of Trump's or other businesses are often participation or syndicate loans And generally are collateralized in some way.

exiledonmainstreet, green-eyed devil said...

AAT said...
Was the US a rich country in the decades following the civil war? We weren’t a world power until decades after the war to end slavery ended.

8/19/19, 9:09 AM

"The U.S. has retained its position of being the world’s largest economy since 1871."

https://www.investopedia.com/insights/worlds-top-economies/

narciso said...

Just like with deutsche bank who prince talal owned 3% of ahares, probably in return for financing kingdom towers, hna chinese bank has cut their exposure there.

rcocean said...

NYT has a problem with its pension costs. Here's a court case from Feb 2019: "Corporations Support the New York Times in Multiemployer Pension Calculation Dispute"

NYT has some $300 million in underfunded pension plans Plus this from their Annual Report:

"We have recorded significant withdrawal liabilities with respect to multiemployer pension plans in which we formerly participated (primarily in connection with the sales of the New England Media Group in 2013 and the Regional Media Group in 2012) and may record additional liabilities in the future. In addition, due to declines in our contributions, we have recorded withdrawal liabilities for actual and estimated partial withdrawals from severalplans in which we continue to participate. Until demand letters from some of the multiemployer plans’ trustees are received, the exact amount of the withdrawal liability will not be fully known recorded estimate could have an adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows.

This took me 2 minutes to find. Any reporter could have done the same. As usual, the the MSM lies about what Trump is saying, and then attacks him for it. Pathetic.

Michael K said...

"Say 90 and let him deny it" was the probably apocryphal reply.

That reminds me of an LBJ story from Caro's biography. I can't remember the outrageous lie that was being discussed but Johnson said "I just want to see him deny it."

rcocean said...

The NYT won't go out of business, that's Trump hyperbole. He's just tweekng them for being financial losers. the NYT is the paper of the liberal elite. Its their Pravada, and tells the other news organizations what tone to set and what stories to cover. So, it will ALWAYS be propped up.

People forget that the Liberal Millionaire Eugene Meyer propped up the WaPo for almost 15 years from 1936-1950, even when it was losing $1 million a year. That's when a steak cost .15 cents a lbs. He did it because the Liberals wanted a elite liberal newspaper in DC.

DarkHelmet said...

I vote for: Trump likes to throw chum in the water to see what creatures take the bait. Truthiness optional.

rcocean said...

"Fixed pensions are a bet that inflation will reduce the value of what you pay out. Then inflation stopped happening, and they're no longer looking at a small future liability."

Plus, in the case of the NYT's it was a cash machine BEFORE the internet. Its stock went up and they were counting on the increased capitalization to help pay off any increased pension costs. Only the stock tanked. And they took a bath on buying the Boston Globe. And they picked up their pension costs. The clever guy who bought the Chicago Tribune screwed over all the pensioners and didn't pay them a dime.

Birkel said...

Disclaimer for Crazy Jane, provides free of charge:

Crazy Jane is not your financial advisor. Do not listen to Crazy Jane. You would be crazy to accept online advice from an anonymous poster on the interwebs who put "Crazy" in their preferred nickname. Crazy Jane is not telling you how to invest. Crazy Jane is using a literary device to achieve her comedic goal.

Seriously, don't take her advice. Or Xer. Or Xim. Even if it's probably correct.

John henry said...

Wc,

No, all 4 were chapter 11 which means creditors got made whole.

Unless you have some names of actual people or companies that lost out.

Hmmm?

John Henry

Francisco D said...

Almost everyone here posting has unfunded liabilities. Your mortgage. Your auto loan. Your credit cards.

Not me. I pay cash and live a bit below my means.

Someone has to be financially responsible.

Bill Peschel said...

Michael K: The anecdote I read was that Johnson wanted it spread that his opponent had carnal knowledge of his farm animals.

The aide was aghast: "Lyndon, we can't say XXXXX is a pig-fucker."

"No, I just want him to deny it."

Bill Peschel said...

"Almost everyone here posting has unfunded liabilities. Your mortgage. Your auto loan. Your credit cards."

I agree with the almost part. We paid off our house after 16 years. Our one car is paid off. We pay off our credit cards every month.

We have no cable (but internet, obvs.), our smartphone is on my SIL's plan, and we rent books and movies from the library.

We raised three kids on my copy editor's salary, thanks in part to my wife's 16-year early payout for leaving the military ($9K a year).

Yes, we had some family help, but my job covered the month to month expenses and we banked what we could to pay for the big-ticket items like a car.

In short, we lived like our folks did.

Amadeus 48 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amadeus 48 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amadeus 48 said...

I spent 20 minutes with their 2018 financial statements.

Look at footnote 10. At Dec 31, 2018, they had an unfunded employment benefit liability for their own plans of about $300 million plus a projected liability for withdrawal from multiemployer plans of $97 million. Also, they have obligations to pay for post-retirement benefits to employees from now through 2028 of about $41.5 million.

Also, they are going to pay $250 million to buy back the equity interest in their HQ at the end of 2019.

So, they have some significant cash requirements over the next ten years that don't do anything to add revenue to the top line or cut annual expenses. They'd better pray that Trump wins in 2020.

Dave said...

I wanted to respond as a combination of the last two. I'm confident that Trump has a great understanding of accounting. How he knows the NYTs books though, is a mystery.

rcocean said...

"How he knows the NYTs books though, is a mystery."

Its a public corporation - dummy.

Michael K said...

The anecdote I read was that Johnson wanted it spread that his opponent had carnal knowledge of his farm animals.

That was it.

Dave said...

I didn't realize they were publicly traded. I'm looking now at SEC.gov.

narayanan said...

Would'nt it be muchos sweet when Trump bids for the NYT building in 2025

Dave said...

If there is an unfunded liability, Trump or one of his people, could have simply searched the SEC database, Edgar, for the information.

Dave said...

Please don't call me a dummy. I thought it was privately owned. How am I own supposed to know that? I don't follow that industry.

Dave said...

You are the dummy, to insult one of your allies.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Isn't Trump just saying the NYT will be out of business after Trump leaves office because their whole schtick is anti-Trump.

minnesota farm guy said...

Looking at the 2018 10K I find underfunded pension liabilities of $81 million versus $69 million in 2017. NYT made $8million contribution in 2018 compared to $128 million in 2017. Given that I am not an accountant I am not going to try to figure out how NYT free cash flow compares to their unfunded pension liability. Certainly the liability went in the wrong direction in 2018 while NYT had a net income (that's not cash!) of $178 million.

Clearly the unfunded pension liability has an impact on the NYT. Somewhere someone can probably find the total - not me. Here's what the 10k says about pensions:
"While we have made significant progress in our liability-driven investment strategy to reduce the funding volatility of our qualified pension plans, the size of our pension plan obligations relative to the size of our current operations will continue to have a significant impact on our reported financial results. We expect to continue to experience volatility in our retirement-related costs, including pension, multiemployer pension and retiree medical costs."

So I'll bet Trump knows the number of unfunded pension liabilities and he is accurate to the extent that it is probably a threat to the financial well being of the NYT since it's net income 2014 to 2017 averaged $33 Million with net income of only $4.73 million in 2016. A couple of bad years and the NYT will be on it uppers. Certainly Trump is accurate saying that having him to kick around is profitable for the NYT!

minnesota farm guy said...

@ Amadeus You beat me to it. Good stuff!

Skeptical Voter said...

I've watched my local fishwrapper--the Los Angeles Times--shed employees in massive waves.
I've watched the page count of the daily edition shrink to the point where you can barely wrap a good sized fish with it.
I've watched them sell their iconic downtown headquarters building to save money---and move to a small office building out by LAX.
I've watched them keep a couple of columnists of such low ability that I know said columnists must have pictures of various senior editors coupling with an entire barnyard full of animals.
I've watched successive owners either go bankrupt or give up on the Times--even after some financial fiddling with an employee ownership plan --Sam Zell, I'm looking at you.

So it doesn't take a financial genius to realize that a major daily newspaper --whether the NYT or the Los Angeles Times or the Chicago Tribune not long for this world. When Newsweek magazine sells for $1--and is overpriced at that, can the NYT be far behind?

I except the Washington Post from this view of the future. It's a rich man's plaything under Jeff Bezos.

Birkel said...

To be fair, Dave, rcocean insults lots of people.
It's not personal.
It's the interwebs.

(I do it too, btw.)

Dave said...

Re: Bezos Plaything.

My understanding is that Bloomberg made money selling information to brokers. When you own a major newspaper, you can manufacture information. That's helpful.

Also, beyond that, it grants you a huge stake in the whole journo list network. I'm pretty sure Bezos has been a big player in the coverage of opiods. Specifically, the blaming of his future competitors for the problems.

Beasts of England said...

’...the size of our pension plan obligations relative to the size of our current operations will continue to have a significant impact on our reported financial results.

Glad I voted for number 4.

Dave said...

It's not helpful. Don't do it. I comment here specifically because one of the academic principles espoused by our host is charity. She seems pretty smart; I think it's a good idea to follow that rule.

J Oliver said...

Two thoughts:
1. Trump said, “after I leave”. Trump is the only news that keeps leftist types buying papers at a high enough rate.
2. How will I start my fires after newspapers are gone?

Unknown said...

Trump hated Spy Magazine back in the 1980s, because it said nasty things about him. He predicted its demise when it was still a 'hot' publication, and he was right.

narciso said...

Well kurt anderson has failed upwards, of a kind, joe conason still slithers at national memo?

Andrew said...

I wonder if the ground the Times building sets on is owned by the Times? Many buildings in NYC are owned, but the ground they sit on is leased, 50 to 100 years. How old is the Times building? Didn't the Empire State Building have to be sold at a loss because the owners couldn't afford the new land lease?

Roger Sweeny said...

Once again, the poll doesn't have my answer, "I have no idea. Someone should investigate."

rcocean said...

How could someone have known NYT was a public corp?

1) Taken 15 seconds and googled it.
2) Read the comment section.
3) Paid attention to the news or Trump's prior comments on NYT stock price
4) figured that if was private, the MSM Would've said "Gotcha trump - its private"

Earnest Prole said...

Why so defensive? It reads as weakness.

Dave said...

How could an adult know not to go around calling people they don't know, dummy? My guess would be good parenting.

tim maguire said...

If history is a guide, we will now suffer through a week of "Trump asserted without evidence," and then someone will produce the evidence.

Molly said...

Pension fund is a good guess (made by many commenters already). Trump also may believe that Sarah Palin will win her defamation suit against NYT and that their insurance won't be enough to cover the damages awarded. I think that would also qualify as an "unfunded liability" if and when the lawsuit is decided against them.

Birkel said...

Earnest Prole,
Why so vague with your intimations?
It reeks of not having a point.

Seeing Red said...

This is interesting because I think there’s a story that the NYT wanted to move and part of the parcel they wanted was a park.

I think that happened in the 2000s.

h said...

Naranyan noted, "Would'nt it be muchos sweet when Trump bids for the NYT building in 2025" ... Yes, as the site for the Trump Presidential Library.

rcocean said...

Dear Dave,

May I call you Dave? I don't know who you are. But I think you should think before you post. That is all. Don't write. Don't call. Letters will be returned unopened. Police will be called if stalked.

Michael K said...

"Would'nt it be muchos sweet when Trump bids for the NYT building in 2025" ... Yes, as the site for the Trump Presidential Library.

Thanks for the laugh.

wildswan said...

rcocean said...
NYT has a problem with its pension costs. Here's a court case from Feb 2019: "Corporations Support the New York Times in Multiemployer Pension Calculation Dispute"

Yes, I found that too. And others have read the financials. So NYT has unfunded pension pension obligations just like NYC, Chicago and most Dem cities. So Trump is right about that. And the NYT got a subscription bump after Trump was elected so that it became a paper gaining subscribers, not losing them. Then, according to the recent NYT townhall transcript, the NYT built its newsroom to cover the Russia collusion story to keep its new subscribers but that story just fizzled. Now, the townhall transcript says, the sharp minds at the NYT are hoping that all day, every day, everywhere, every way, "racism, racism, racism," will fill the Mueller gap. I think Dean Baquet was right when he said that repeatedly saying "racism, racism" will kill the paper but his reporters don't see that. Digitally Manipulated Face (DMF) to make "surprised face." Trump is the paper's life support mechanism and if a Dem is elected the paper will be dead in six months. 4 DMF Sad Faces. And pensions won't kick in. The Future for Dummies. Are you tired of all the winning, brilliant folks at the Times? No Mas?

readering said...

Nyt stock up 2 and a half per cent so far today.

Terry di Tufo said...

He is probably referring to the obligations due to the slaves who were responsible for the NYTimes success.

wildswan said...

And if Trump is elected, the NYT will die anyway by slowly bleeding out its subscribers from 2020-2024 by its barrage of mind-numbing boring propaganda. "NYT: We must work harder at being even more boring." Subscribers will turn to the right for relief, secretly reading The Road to Serfdom in a plain brown wrapper. Or even Bleak House.

Bob Boyd said...

If Trump loses the election he'll buy control of the NYT 2 years later for next to nothing and move it lock, stock and barrel to Wichita.

Dave said...

How could you know why it's called ham radio rcocean ?

1) Taken 15 seconds and googled it.

Look at the poll. Just as you are responding to rh, I am responding to Althouse. Yes I am disabled. I get that from being interred in government factory schools.

Stop insulting people. It doesn't help you, it doesn't help conservatism. The adult thing to do is to apologize to me, but I don't think you are a big enough man to admit you are wrong.

James K said...

The NYT has enormous goodwill, probably. That's on the asset line.

So how do they account for selling their reputation for honesty in exchange for a few years of inflated revenues from their TDS-afflicted subscribers? At some point that will hit their bottom line.

Darkisland said...

Blogger Andrew said...

Didn't the Empire State Building have to be sold at a loss because the owners couldn't afford the new land lease?

The land under the Empire State Building is owned by Columbia University and leased to the Empire State Building company. Back in the 90's Trump bought the building. Helmsley-Spear (Harry and Leona Helmsly by that time) had the master lease. Meaning that they rented the entire building then sublet the spaces.

People thought Trump crazy to buy it because he could not make any money from the individual leases. It was a nice, safe, but low return investment.

Except that Trump found a clause in the master lease that Helmsly-Spear was violating. Once he became the owner, he sued to break the lease.

It is why he went from being Leona's frequent escort to her hate object.

The NYT owns a building on Times Square that is vacant. They rent the sides of the building for billboards and make out like bandits. I forget the numbers but I read an article on the economics of it and it was amazing. They may make more profit on it than on the newspaper.

John Henry

Drago said...

Earnest Prole: "Why so defensive? It reads as weakness."

Did Prole ever give us a definition of a "yuge" bankruptcy?

If not why not?

Francisco D said...

readering wrote: Nyt stock up 2 and a half per cent so far today.

I assume you own NYT stock since you are watching it. How has it performed over the last 10 years?

Yancey Ward said...

I would guess a legacy company in a city like New York with a heavily unionized work force from the past almost certainly hasn't properly funded its pension and healthcare obligations to retirees and future retirees.

Rabel said...

From their June 30, 2019 10-Q it looks like they are in a 520 million dollar pension hole.

"Funded status of benefit plans (520,308)"

Note the parentheses.

Dave Begley said...

Rabel wins!

I knew it would be in the SEC documents. And that's where Trump got it.

StephenFearby said...

Andrew said...

"I wonder if the ground the Times building sets on is owned by the Times? Many buildings in NYC are owned, but the ground they sit on is leased, 50 to 100 years. How old is the Times building? Didn't the Empire State Building have to be sold at a loss because the owners couldn't afford the new land lease?"

No, the Times may only own a portion of the building's ground lease, which now has about 88 years or so to run. "May" because they sold their ownership portion in 2009 with the option of buying it back. In 2018, the Times announced they would exercise their option in 2019, but it is unclear whether or not the transaction has been completed yet.

Wikipedia:

"..The site for the [8th Avenue] building was obtained by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) through eminent domain. With a mandate to acquire and redevelop blighted properties in Times Square, ten buildings were condemned by the ESDC and purchased from their owners. Some owners sued, asserting that the area was no longer blighted, but lost in court.[6][7] Once the 80,000-square-foot (7,400 m2) site was assembled, it was leased to The New York Times Company and Forest City Ratner for $85.6 million over 99 years (considerably below market value).[8] Additionally, The New York Times Company received $26.1 million in tax breaks.[8] The Times itself occupies 628,000 square feet (58,300 m2) on the 2nd to 21st floors, with the remainder leased to tenants.[9] Law firm Covington & Burling also occupies 194,000 square feet (18,000 m2) in the building, taking up floors 39 through 44.[10]

Shortly after completion, in 2009 the Times sold their ownership stake in the tower's leasehold to W. P. Carey for $225 million.[11] In exchange, the Times would lease back their floors for $24 million a year for 10 years, a price far below the market value of the space.

On December 16, 2016, The New York Times announced that it was vacating at least 8 floors totaling 250,000 square feet (23,000 m2) in order to generate rental income and save costs.[12] In January 2018, financial firm Liquidnet announced they would take half the available space, signing a sublease for over 140,000 square feet (13,000 m2) in the building.[13] The Times also announced in February 2018 that they would be exercising the option to repurchase the building's leasehold from W.P. Carey for $250 million in 2019.[11]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_York_Times_Building

Yancey Ward said...

I haven't looked at the 10-Q, but what rates to they assume the pension plans earn? Huge liabilities are hidden that way, too, though this is more a problem for state and municipal governments than it is for private corporations since the accounting is more strictly enforced on the private sector.

Drago said...

Dave Begley: "Rabel wins!
I knew it would be in the SEC documents. And that's where Trump got it."

Shhhh. You're upsetting and triggering readering with all these OrangeManBad Was Right analyses!!

Btw, since we are talking about the always comical readering comments, one is tempted to suggest Trump should purchase the NYT from some location east of the NYT building to keep Hitler from purchasing the NYT from the West.

Drago said...

Prole, where the heck is that definition of "yuge" bankruptcy?

Whats taking you so long?

Dave Begley said...

Warren Buffett owned a big percentage of WaPo back in the glory days. He's been out of it for a long time. At a recent BRK meeting Warren said that he and Charlie Munger were surprised how far and fast the newspaper business has fallen. He had to sack the OWH publisher. If it wasn't for the Big Red, OWH would be in huge trouble.

Earnest Prole said...

Did Prole ever give us a definition of a "yuge" bankruptcy?

I imagined you’d be more fluent in Trumpspeak: The word “yuge” is deployed even for things that are tiny. Try it, you’ll find it especially useful given your personal circumstance.

Dave Begley said...

I was surprised. The NYT has outperformed the S&P 500 by 50% over the last 3 years. There IS a market for TDS and the NYT has it cornered.

Market cap is $4.7b so the $500m in unfunded pension liabilities is not too terrible. But maybe something else going on. Like a class action against the NYT for Fake News.

Rabel said...

"Market cap is $4.7b so the $500m in unfunded pension liabilities is not too terrible."

It's about 5 years worth of their net annual income at current rates. It's pretty terrible.

minnesota farm guy said...

The NYT did a sale/leaseback on their building a few years ago with an option to buy in the next couple of years. Their 10K says NYT plans to exercise its option because the option price is below the anticipated sale price of the building. I suspect the sale/leaseback was either to conserve cash and/or generate cash needed to fund that pension liability. The unfunded liability only becomes dangerous, I think, when profits/cash flow drop. Without looking back at it, "accumulated depreciation" was a big number on the income statement. As I recall that's a big shield for cash flow, but I am not sure what happens when that accumulated depreciation has to be flowed through the income statement. My guess is that it has the reverse affect on cash flow and if so would begin to make the banks nervous about short term funding.

If NYT profits retreat to 2016 levels NYT is in big trouble. I don't think betting against Trump's ability to read a balance sheet is a smart move.

minnesota farm guy said...

@ Dave Begley It's all about cash flow and profit contributing to cash flow. A bad year and NYT market cap could all but disappear in one market session. I think it's safe to say that until Trump was elected NYT was on the ragged edge of failure.

Michael K said...

Shortly after completion, in 2009 the Times sold their ownership stake in the tower's leasehold to W. P. Carey for $225 million.[11] In exchange, the Times would lease back their floors for $24 million a year for 10 years, a price far below the market value of the space.

The American College of Surgeons headquarters was in a building donated by the estate of John B Murphy. The donation was accompanied by a requirement that it could not be sold. Murphy was a very successful surgeon and a founder of the College. He was, for example, the first to coin the term "appendicitis" and to make the diagnosis before rupture.

The College has grown enormously since then and real estate prices inn that part of Chicago have grown even more. A few years ago, they sold the air rights over the old building, used the money to buy another high rise across Michigan Avenue, lease most of it except for about 5 floors that are now the ACS headquarters.

Good business decision.

readering said...

Nyt stock up about 350% in 10 years.

readering said...

Trump just says stuff.

Jim at said...

How many times have we seen it already? Trump tweets something that's not entirely accurate, people run around screaming what a liar he is and sometime later it turns out he was closer to the truth than anybody is willing to admit.

You'd think they'd learn by now.

rcocean said...

The NYT' stock history is interesting. you'd have made a Fortune if you'd bought in the mid 90s and held it till 2004:

1995 - $10.69/share
2004 - $46.40/share

Then comes the collapse:

2007 - $25.56/share
2008 - $8.48/share
2016 - $12.46/share
Today - $28.17/share

rcocean said...

As someone stated above, the Republicans seem to be good for the NYT business, especially in the first term. If we get a D in 2020, sell, sell, sell.

readering said...

People are paid a lot of money to put out material info on stocks and other people are paid a lot of money to analyze stocks. But folks here treat Trump like Oracle of Delphi.

Dave Begley said...

MN farm guy:

Good point. The fact is that the NYT's readership is rabid anti-Trump and the NYT mgmt had to come up with something to feed that beast after the Russia thing fell apart. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Dean asked Jerry to keep up the impeachment nonsense just to generate more NYT content.

Recall how the NYT readers went nuts when a favorable Trump headline was posted.

If the NYT became neutral, it wouldn't have any readers.

Content is king and for the NYT all of the content must be TDS.

rcocean said...

As I stated above, the NYT performs an essential service for the liberal power elite. It will NEVER go out of business but will subsidized. If worse comes to worse, some Media Giant will buy it and eat their losses because they are making $Billions in other areas. CNN is losing money, but Time-warner, or whoever owns it, doesn't give a rats ass.

minnesota farm guy said...

@ Rabel Thanks for finding the amount of the pension liability. If you use the average earnings of the 4 years before Trump, NYT unfunded liability is about 15 years of earnings. If you include the 5 year period with the bump in 2018 the unfunded liability is 10 years of average earnings. Though pension liabilities don't all accrue at once, NYT has already unloaded over $200 million to insurance companies so the $500 million looks like a real number whose amortization through pension withdrawals could ( as the accountants said ) have a serious negative effect on earnings.

Ignoring some of static, comments of this quality are why I stick with Ann's blog.

rcocean said...

Average Conservative person: Yeah, Trump's doing Ok - better than the alternative.
Left-winger: The Right worships Trump like a King!

minnesota farm guy said...

@ Dave Begley Being a one trick pony in today's rapidly changing publishing world is not a good strategy. Like the Department of Agriculture NYT needs to move to the midwest!

Earnest Prole said...

As someone stated above, the Republicans seem to be good for the NYT business, especially in the first term. If we get a D in 2020, sell, sell, sell.

The reverse of firearms. If you own stock in both you’re hedged, at least against politics.

Michael said...

Trump, of course, is the reason NYT subscriptions have climbed. The only reason. They should quietly support him.

minnesota farm guy said...

So far this year published revenue figures are pretty much comparable last year's first two quarters though down a bit. It will be interesting to see what happens in the third quarter without Mueller driving subscriptions!

AllenS said...

A vote for #3 or #4 in the poll wound be close to the truth.

Drago said...

rcocean: "Average Conservative person: Yeah, Trump's doing Ok - better than the alternative.

Left-winger: The Right worships Trump like a King!"

And if to emphasize precisely that point, along comes history ignoramus readering with the following solid gold hot take:


readering: "People are paid a lot of money to put out material info on stocks and other people are paid a lot of money to analyze stocks. But folks here treat Trump like Oracle of Delphi."

Actual conservative response: of course business man Trump can understand a Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statement.

Thanks readering! Its like Roger Stone created you to undermine the left!

Drago said...

Earnest Prole: "I imagined you’d be more fluent in Trumpspeak: The word “yuge” is deployed even for things that are tiny. Try it, you’ll find it especially useful given your personal circumstance."

All in all that was not the worst deflection tactic given you were talking out of your rear and was called out for it.

So you've got that going for you, which is nice.

Darkisland said...

Me, I'm still waiting for Earnest Prole to give us some names of people who lost money in any of Trump's bankruptcies.

John Henry

Jamie said...

"selling their reputation for honesty in exchange for a few years of inflated revenues from their TDS-afflicted subscribers."

Or, "a mess of pottage." Or, a maybe, "a jot of message." It'd be so interesting to be a fly on the wall in NYT board meetings; what might they talk about in terms of company strategy? Obviously an R president is money in the bank, but the downside is an R president. An R Congress or Supreme Court isn't quite as effective a money maker, it would seem, but it may be easier to support quietly, thereby keeping the paper's (clear and obvious but publicly denied) progressive bona fides intact...

Earnest Prole said...

Saying Trump knows yugely about bankruptcy is about as controversial as saying fish know yugely about water. At the core of the Trump legend is the tale of bankruptcy and rebirth he tells in Trump: The Art of the Comeback. To boast unfamiliarity with this is to boast you really don’t know Donald much at all.

Clyde said...

I picked #4 even though it's probably not true, just to move the Overton Window. Or to be cantankerous. Your choice.

Drago said...

Prole is backpedaling and moving goalposts so rapidly he'll be over the cliff in about 15 minutes.

Crazy Jane said...

Someone named Birkel said:

Disclaimer for Crazy Jane, provides free of charge:

Crazy Jane is not your financial advisor. Do not listen to Crazy Jane. You would be crazy to accept online advice from an anonymous poster on the interwebs who put "Crazy" in their preferred nickname. Crazy Jane is not telling you how to invest. Crazy Jane is using a literary device to achieve her comedic goal.

Seriously, don't take her advice. Or Xer. Or Xim. Even if it's probably correct.



Good grief, Birkel, it was a joke. Duh. If you think anyone took it seriously, the joke's on you.

As for my moniker, go ahead and mock it. (Read some Yeats someday.) I've been dissed by lots scarier people than you, and I can take it.

walter said...

Speaking of unfunded liabilities...

Chuck said...

Althouse you are welcome to make guesses about what the real meaning is, of any one of Trump’s countless oblique or even nonsensical tweets or public statements. But I am not going to work at it. I’m not going to supply any cleverness or even any sound Presidential meaning unless and until Trump himself makes a clear statement, without ambiguity. I am not going to volunteer any interpretations of my own to assist Trump.

If I have to guess at what Trump means in any such circumstances, I am going to presume that Trump is lying, and bullshitting, and that he is being deliberately vague so as to avoid accountability.

Because Trump has such a long record of lying, and bullshitting, and being deliberately vague so as to attempt to avoid accountability,

Birkel said...

Crazy Jane:

Grow a sense of humor.
I am on your team, LOL!

Martin said...

Trump has been proven mostly right in what seemed to many like crazy claims (i.e., that Trump Tower and his campaign were being "tapped" in 2016), so I take a wait and see attitude and sure don't assume he is wrong just because what he says seems odd.

Chuck said...

The poll results are interesting.

As usual, they reveal nothing about the basic subject matter or the veracity/soundness/quality of any of the particular poll choices.

Rather, the poll results inform all of us about the general nature of the self-selecting Althouse commentariat. And that it is about 90% pro-Trump.

Chuck said...

Blogger Martin said...
Trump has been proven mostly right in what seemed to many like crazy claims (i.e., that Trump Tower and his campaign were being "tapped" in 2016), so I take a wait and see attitude and sure don't assume he is wrong just because what he says seems odd.


Now I am wondering what the 8Chan poll results were.

Q!

walter said...

Chuck relapsed..
If I have to guess at what Trump means in any such circumstances, I am going to presume that Trump is lying, and bullshitting, and that he is being deliberately vague so as to avoid accountability.
Because, after scoring a big ass bottle of gin from BAG, I am back to being interested in smearing him, hurting him and prejudicing people against him.

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crazy Jane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crazy Jane said...

Birkel.

I apologize. I misunderstood. Typically, I want to believe, I am not so credulous. Best wishes.

Drago said...

LLR and #StrongDemDefender Chuck: "Rather, the poll results inform all of us about the general nature of the self-selecting Althouse commentariat."

All online forums are self-selecting.

Even the other far left forums that you no doubt participate in with your allies.

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Lee Moore said...

Drago : All online forums are self-selecting.

Surely not. They are selected by the inexorable, all powerful forces of capitalist hegemony and patriarchy which force the 99%, bathed in false consciousness, to dance to the tune of the 1%.

Only on the few, brave little islands of resistance - the NYT, WP, CNN, MSNBC and the networks - can we hear the true voice of the little guy (or guyette or xhguyazingo) speaking truth to power.