Anti-Virals for Omicron and Writing a Blockbuster First Novel – Ari Ciment & Jay Newman

Sunday, January 9th, 2022

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What Happens Next is a podcast where an expert is given just SIX minutes to present his argument. This is followed by a Q&A period for deeper engagement.

Today’s topics are Anti-Virals for Omicron and Writing a Blockbuster First Novel.

Our speakers are Ari Ciment and Jay Newman.


Larry Bernstein:
Welcome to What Happens Next.

My name is Larry Bernstein.

Today’s discussion is on using anti-viral medications with Omicron and Writing a Blockbuster First Novel.

Our first speaker today is Dr. Ari Ciment who is a pulmonologist at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach. Ari has treated thousands of COVID patients since the March 2020 outbreak.
Ari spoke on my last two programs, and he is now officially a regular on the show.

Omicron cases continue to explode exponentially around the world.

We are going to talk about the new Merck and Pfizer anti-viral drugs that are just coming to market and who should take them to reduce the likelihood of hospitalization after infection with COVID.

I want to know what Ari is seeing in the hospital’s Covid Ward right now, what Omicron symptoms look like for the typical victim as well as for patients who are hospitalized.

Ari will explain how the vaccine and boosters will reduce the risk of hospitalization and the Omicron symptoms.

This Covid variant is unbelievably contagious. Masks are the best we can do, but anecdotal evidence is that masks are not working particularly well. Herd immunity here we come.

Our second speaker is my good friend Jay Newman who has been a long-standing member of my book club.

Jay retired from the Elliott hedge fund after working there for many years. Jay is well known in the industry for his litigation victory against Argentina where he successfully defended bondholders after Argentina defaulted on their debt.

Jay has written his first novel about a crooked hedge fund manager. The chatter from the publishing industry is that it will be a blockbuster.

I want to learn from Jay how he pulled that off.

I also want to understand his creative process, that led to his novel entitled Undermoney.

Every month since the start of COVID, I have discussed the monthly employment data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics because it is the leading indicator for global growth. This month proved to be another surprise. The Establishment and the Household surveys this month had very different results. The Establishment uses employment data from our largest firms showed a gain of 199k jobs while the Household report showed a much larger increase of 650k. There is another private sector employment survey that is conducted by ADP which is the nation’s largest payroll service. Since ADP has access to so many firms’ latest employment data, they have a good handle on the situation and their survey showed an increase in employment of 807k. What is the truth? Is employment surging or stagnating, nobody knows. What I learned in my economics training is that when you don’t have a firm grasp of supply and demand, the best indicator is price. And here we can look at the change in the average hourly earnings which increased by 4.7% YoY and accelerated to a 7.3% wage increase when you annualize the December monthly result. With wages increasing so quickly it is likely that employment demand is outstripping labor supply, and I would guess that the surveys with the larger employment growth are probably right.

The wage inflation is disconcerting because it cannot be blamed on supply chain constraints. Companies will need to increase the prices of goods to make up for the cost of labor. Inflation is probably here to stay for the foreseeable future as the economy is on fire.

Alright, let’s get started with our first speaker Dr. Ari Ciment. Welcome back.


Ari Ciment

Topic: Taking the New Merck or Pfizer Anti-Viral Drugs for Omicron.
Bio: Pulmonologist and Critical Care at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach.

Ari Ciment Q&A:

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Jay Newman

Topic: Writing your First Novel
Bio: Former Hedge Fund Manager at Elliott
Reading: Undermoney is here

I spent over 20 years in the hedge fund world, essentially chasing deadbeat countries that didn’t want to pay what they owed. I occasionally wrote op-eds describing what it took to chase down Argentina, the Congo or Peru to make them pay back what they owed. And when I retired, I thought it would be fun to write a book of non-fiction about my experience.

But I realized that I could accomplish more if I fictionalized it. My idea for a novel centered around a military guy that I knew from my days at Morgan Stanley. He was special-ops, an intelligence guy, who was a true American patriot. His name was Don like the hero of my new novel Undermoney.

Don described to me the interplay between finance, military tactics and foreign policy. I started the novel with my protagonist Don Carter who wanted to change the world. He doesn’t like how the military is run, politics are practiced and the corruption that’s inherent in money, politics and policy.

I started thinking about the ways that the Don character might change these things and his challenge is that he needs money to support his political candidate. He puts together a team of his former military colleagues to help him: An active service general, an aspiring politician, and a young woman who is the other hero in the book who is an undercover agent.

And their big idea is to take over the world’s largest hedge fund to fund their guy’s election campaign. And what they discover is that the targeted hedge fund is corrupt and engages in nefarious activities. And that’s the underlying plot premise.

Jay Newman:

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