Vivek Ramaswamy Takes Aim at a Political Fund-raising ‘Oligopoly’

As a biotech entrepreneur, investor and conservative activist, Vivek Ramaswamy cuts a different profile from the veteran politicians who are also seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

With the plan that he announced on Monday — in which fund-raisers will get 10 percent of what they drum up for him — Mr. Ramaswamy told DealBook that he’s trying to shake up the business of politics now, too.

How it works: Called “Vivek’s Kitchen Cabinet,” the system will give participants a personal link they can share with others, and the campaign will pay them as independent contractors.

Mr. Ramaswamy said he’s taking aim at a political norm. After announcing his candidacy in February, he said he had met with professional fund-raisers who promised that they could find wealthy donors in Palm Beach, Fla., in Silicon Valley, and on Wall Street.

He wasn’t impressed with their work, he said, but he found their fee structure, in which they are paid up to 20 percent of what donors give, interesting. That got him thinking about disrupting the model: “Anytime there’s an oligopoly, there’s a need and an opportunity to break it up,” he said.

It’s a novel way of attracting support, since it goes against how candidates traditionally spend money to get donors. (Most campaigns will spend heavily on marketing to draw donors, though the Republican hopeful Doug Burgum is trying something different by doling out $20 gift cards.) News coverage of the plan could also help bump up awareness of Ramaswamy, who’s currently polling at about 4 percent.

Drawing more donors isn’t necessary for Mr. Ramaswamy to qualify for the first Republican presidential debate — he told DealBook that he had amassed about 65,000 already, more than the 40,000 minimum. But it could help alleviate his need to self-fund his campaign, to which he has given more than $10.5 million in loans and contributions as of the first quarter.

Is it legal? Campaign finance experts told DealBook that the plan didn’t appear to raise any legal issues. Ramaswamy said that it had been vetted by the Federal Election Commission.

But some experts see other problems. For instance, supporters may pressure and coerce others in their networks to give to the candidate, according to Saurav Ghosh, director of campaign finance reform at the advocacy group Campaign Legal Center and a former F.E.C. enforcement attorney. (Some on social media have jokingly compared it to a multilevel marketing campaign.)

China reportedly plans tighter rules for artificial intelligence. Beijing officials will compel companies developing A.I. services to obtain a license before releasing their products to the public, according to The Financial Times. Regulators are seeking a balance between controlling content while allowing domestic tech companies to innovate.

Foxconn withdraws from a $19.5 billion chip venture in India. The electronic components giant said it wouldn’t move forward with plans to partner with the conglomerate Vedanta to build factories in Gujarat. The decision is a blow to India’s efforts to become a hub for chip making and to seize on desires by Apple and others to diversify their supply chains away from China.

Tucker Carlson’s Twitter show isn’t holding onto its audience. Views of his broadcasts on the social network have fallen as much as 85 percent since their debut last month. It’s bad news for Carlson, who had counted on his strong viewership at Fox News to carry over to his Twitter show after the network fired him this spring.

Hollywood faces the prospect of a second strike. Actors are set to join writers on the picket lines if their union, SAG-AFTRA, doesn’t reach a deal with studios by midnight on Wednesday. Another strike could completely shut down Hollywood, disrupting local communities depending on movie and TV production. At issue are disagreements over streaming payments and the use of artificial intelligence.

Just a month into the job as the social media platform’s C.E.O., Linda Yaccarino has had to deal with a major new competitor, unpopular limits placed on power users and the unpredictability of Elon Musk. It hasn’t been a smooth debut by any means.

She has set herself a tough task. Ms. Yaccarino, the former head of advertising at NBCUniversal aims to repair relations with Madison Avenue, no small feat in the middle of a global ad slump. In her favor is her strong reputation: “Linda was a good hire and the right hire as long as she has the freedom to do what’s necessary,” Martin Sorrell, an advertising mogul, told DealBook last week.

But many suspect that Twitter’s owner will be reluctant to relinquish control. Indeed, Mr. Musk hasn’t made things easier for Ms. Yaccarino, tweeting juvenile content and apparently neglecting to copy her on his threat to sue Threads, Meta’s rival short-messaging platform. (Referring to Ms. Yaccarino, Bill Grueskin, a Columbia Journalism School professor, tweeted that he was “trying to think of a worse career decision.”)

A request for comment to Twitter’s P.R. team was answered with an auto-reply of a poop emoji.

And Threads keeps growing. The Twitter competitor has now surpassed 100 million users, setting a record for an app to reach that milestone. Analysts at Evercore ISI have estimated that Threads could add $8 billion to Meta’s annual revenue by 2025. It’s worth noting that Threads currently doesn’t feature any advertising.

Its rise appears to be hurting Twitter: Traf­fic to Twit­ter’s web­site fell 5 percent week-on-week in the first two days of Thread’s existence, ac­cord­ing to The Wall Street Journal, citing Sim­i­lar­Web.

Ms. Yaccarino sought to rally the Twitter faithful. “Twitter, you really outdid yourselves!” she posted on Monday. “Last week we had our largest usage day since February. There’s only ONE Twitter. You know it. I know it. 🎤” (That said, the tech journalist Casey Newton expressed skepticism of her claim.)

Americans’ spending spree on cars, airline tickets and hotel stays appears to be cooling off. Markets are anxiously waiting to see if that restraint will be born out in Wednesday’s Consumer Price Index reading.

What to watch: Economists polled by Bloomberg expect the headline inflation number to drop to 3.1 percent, a huge decline from last July’s reading of 9 percent. (That said, more frugal consumers could crimp Amazon’s annual Prime Day shopping bonanza, which starts today.)

But progress from here is expected to be tough. Core inflation, which excludes more volatile food and fuel prices, is predicted to drop to 5 percent, well above the Fed’s 2 percent target. In an investor note on Monday co-written by Jan Hatzius, Goldman Sachs’s chief economist, the firm said that it expected further gradual progress in the inflation fight in the coming months, but didn’t see core inflation dipping below 3 percent until 2025.

The Fed is also still worried about inflation. On Monday, three officials said that more interest rate increases were needed to bring down prices. “Inflation is our No. 1 problem,” said Mary Daly, president of the San Francisco Fed and a nonvoting member of the central bank. She added that she believed two more rate raises were needed this year.

The futures market is betting on that as well, pricing in a quarter-percentage-point increase at this month’s Fed rate-setting meeting and, increasingly, anticipating another raise this fall.

But that uncertainty over inflation, as well as worries about recession and a slowing labor market, has led some on Wall Street to warn that the S&P 500 is overvalued and that a stock sell-off is coming. (Investors will keep an eye on corporate earning reports, which begin this week, for more clues on how businesses are faring.)

Ron Price, the C.O.O. of the PGA Tour, in a preview of his testimony today before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations about the proposed tie-up with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit. Price added that there would be no changes to the PGA Tour’s C.E.O. or on the board level should the framework deal move forward.

The Fed’s top banking overseer, Michael Barr, outlined on Monday major parts of his plan to update regulations in the wake of the regional lender crisis that was prompted by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank this spring.

Among them are tougher capital requirements meant to make banks more resilient in turbulent times — but the financial industry is warning that the proposals go too far.

Mr. Barr wants banks to hold more in capital reserves, to the tune of an additional $2 for every $100 of risk-weighted assets, he said in a speech. He also wants to extend his stricter rules to all institutions with $100 billion or more in assets; the toughest requirements currently apply only to lenders that are internationally active or have at least $700 billion in assets.

It’s a recognition of “gaps in the current rules,” he said, since even midsize lenders — which are more lightly regulated — can pose dangers to the American financial system.

Banks are threatening a fight. Washington and Wall Street appear to have been surprised by how tough Mr. Barr is being: “It’s definitely meaty,” Ian Katz, an analyst at Capital Alpha, told The Times.

But industry figures said that tougher restrictions would come at a price. “Further capital requirements on the largest U.S. banks will lead to higher borrowing costs and fewer loans for consumers and businesses,” said Kevin Fromer, head of the banking group Financial Services Forum.

The rules aren’t a done deal yet. Up next is the public comment period. If the Fed’s board approves, it will still take time to implement the rules.


  • Berkshire Hathaway will buy control of a liquefied natural gas export project in Maryland for $3.3 billion. (Bloomberg)

  • Banks including Citigroup, HSBC and JPMorgan Chase are said to be seeking potential investors for the seed giant Syngenta’s $9 billion I.P.O. in China, which is expected to be the biggest market debut this year. (Bloomberg)

  • Morgan Stanley has reportedly hired Marco Caggiano, JPMorgan’s head of North American mergers, as a vice chairman of M.&A. (Reuters)


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Source: New York Times

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