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Updated Oct 3, 2023, 7:13pm EDT
businessNorth America

Semafor Business at Genesis House: In conversation with Eric Adams, Gary Cohn, and WSJ’s Emma Tucker

New York City Mayor Eric Adams with Semafor's Ben Smith
Joe Posner/Semafor
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The Scene

The inaugural Semafor Business at Genesis House summit convened a slate of business and finance leaders in New York on Tuesday to discuss the latest trends in the business sector and the future of the industry.

Here are highlights from the conversations with newsmakers like New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Donald Trump’s former economic advisor Gary Cohn, and New York Stock Exchange President Lynn Martin.

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The View From Mayor Eric Adams

On immigration: Adams said that the White House was “wrong” on immigration and that he didn’t see eye-to-eye with the Biden administration on cities carrying the weight of the migrant crisis.

On return to office: Adams said the office environment needs to be an “experience” to lure younger people back, jokingly suggesting stocking up on tequila. His larger philosophy, he said, is that people “need to get back out.”

“If you’re single, you’re not going to meet your spouse staying home all the time,” he said.

On media coverage: “Thank God for journalists that take their craft seriously, and not take their personal experience in covering the story.”

On crypto: Adams said he still has the funds from his first three paychecks as mayor, which he took in cryptocurrency.

“I remember one time we were using stones and sticks and other items than paper. Money is going to evolve and we can be afraid of it or not. Evolution is not going to stand still just because of our fear.”

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The View From lynn martin, President of NYSE

On the idea of AI replacing humans on the New York Stock Exchange floor: Martin said that a human wouldn’t be able to handle the billions of data points that come through the system every day.

“What a human can do is notice anomalies in the data, they can toss out anomalies,” said Martin, who studied computer science and worked as a an IBM computer programmer. “The most tech-forward organizations are ones that harness the power of technology and data and enable the humans to do more on the intelligence side,” she said.

On the latest in the IPO market: Martin said the “floodgates” for IPOs likely won’t open until 2024.

First, “there’s got to be a few months of sustained deals getting done” and “getting done at the first price,” Martin said.

Proceeds for initial public offerings are down about 30% year-over-year and the number of IPOs in the first nine months of the year is also down compared to last year.

“We’re gearing up for a variety of companies to come in the next week or so ... so we’re we’re incredibly excited about the future.”

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The View From Scott Rechler, CEO of RXR

On the U.S. office market: “It is bad,” Rechler, the CEO of the real estate development company, said in response to a recent Bloomberg survey in which two-thirds of investors said the U.S. office market is due for a crash, and won’t rebound until after a “severe collapse.” Most of the respondents said commercial real estate prices won’t bottom until the second half of 2024 or later.

“The challenge is that this is different than what we experienced during the financial crisis.”

On working from home: “Hybrid work is here to stay... We have to reimagine our urban ecosystem to be able to now accommodate a situation like this,” Rechler said, comparing the situation to how Lower Manhattan was redesigned after 9/11.

On Eric Adams’ plan to allow more offices to be converted to apartments: “The answer is it works but not in grand scale. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be pursued...”

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The View From Emma Tucker, WSJ editor-in-chief

On the Wall Street Journal’s future: Tucker said the Journal’s niche under her leadership will be American capitalism. “That’s a great niche to own. And I think that’s very much where the Wall Street Journal is going to focus its efforts now because it plays to our strengths.”

On WSJ’s coverage of Donald Trump: “We’ll stick to our guns, stick to our principles. And again ... one of the things that’s most impressive has been the way the newsroom really believes in the values of the Journal which is, we have to be objective. We have to tell both sides of the story.”

On Evan Gershkovich: “All we want to do is do the right thing by Evan,” Tucker said, emphasizing the importance of keeping the journalist who has been detained in Russia in the news. “We’re going to carry on making as much noise as we can.”

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The View From Gary Cohn, former NEC director

On President Biden going to the UAW picket line: “I would have not advised the president to go to a picket line,” Cohn, IBM’s vice chairman and former president Donald Trump’s top economic advisor, said. “It creates a bit of a rift between all the areas of concern... As a president of the United States, I think you’d want to be on the side of growing the economy, not picking labor vs. capital vs. quality of life.”

On going back into government service: “I think everyone in this room should serve in government,” he said. “It’s a unique experience.” He said his decision would be influenced by who wins the White House in 2024.

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The View From Mark Wiedman, BlackRock

On ESG: “We don’t need as much talk. We’ve been a little quieter,” Wiedman, who is the head of Global Client Business at BlackRock, said.That’s what our clients are looking for.”

He said there is demand from clients for more sustainable investing, and that the firm’s philosophy on the issue is to “speak softly and invest money.”

A PARTNER MESSAGE

The View From

We were honored to host Semafor Business at Genesis House NYC. An oasis in the heart of the Meatpacking District, Genesis House celebrates elevated living through rich surroundings and intellectual nourishment. Visitors will find an intriguing sanctuary with plenty to explore, from innovative installations and haute cuisine to luminary engagements and an array of Genesis models. Our second floor restaurant and library offer scenic views of The High Line and the Hudson River, making Genesis House a cultural destination at the center of a bustling cosmopolitan city.

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