Stan Collender, a partner and national director of financial communications at Qorvis Communications LLC, told his old friend David Wessel that if he ever wrote a book about the national budget, Collender would host the book party.
Last night he made good, celebrating Wessel’s “Red Ink: Inside the High-Stakes Politics of the Federal Budget.”
It was the perfect time to draw a crowd, because “there’s nothing else to do” in August, said Collender.
His wife, Maura McGinn, added a touch of glam in her flamingo-pink dress.
Drew Chafetz, the co-founder and chief executive of love.futbol, praised the U.S. women’s Olympic soccer team. He runs a nonprofit that builds soccer fields for impoverished children.
“The sushi went fast,” lamented Chelsea Koski, a Qorvis senior director, gazing over the buffet.
“Red Ink” is the third book by Wessel, a Wall Street Journal economics editor and columnist, whose other titles include “In Fed We Trust” and “Prosperity” with co-author Bob Davis.
Wessel said he enjoyed the “monastery” serenity of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars where he wrote the 150 pages of “Red Ink” in two months. He explained that the brevity of the book is no accident. The federal budget and deficit “confuses everybody,” and the presidential candidates are not making it any easier.
Wessel said President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney speak in “vague generalities, so no one has to make the numbers add up.”
According to “Red Ink,” the government borrows 36 cents for every dollar it brings in.
Wessel does, however, give props to two of the “heroes” of the book, Doug Elmendorf, the director of the Congressional Budget Office, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Wessel will take a break from the number crunching by turning a lecture in Colorado into a vacation.
Collender has plenty of summer reading to do. He showed off titles on his iPad: “Bailout” by Neil Barofsky and David Talbot’s “Season of the Witch” about San Francisco, where Collender went to college.
Dodd-Frank “is not a perfect law,” said Dennis M. Kelleher, president and CEO of the nonprofit Better Markets. “Democracy is not perfect.”
Kelleher, a proponent of the legislation, was speaking Monday at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the think tank created by Blackstone Group co-founder Peter G. Peterson.
The luncheon and Q&A, co-hosted by Better Markets and the Peterson Institute, also featured Simon Johnson, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and co-author of “White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt and Why It Matters to You.”
In a telephone interview after the event, Johnson, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute, said he agrees with Kelleher about pursuing financial reform. He said he’d like to debate bankers on the subject, especially JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon.
The institute’s director, C. Fred Bergsten, moderated the event. He is retiring at the end of 2012 after working there for 31 years. Economist Adam Posen will assume the position in January.
Among the guests who dined on a meal of short ribs and couscous: Enzo Viscusi, chairman of Eni Petroleum Co.; Clay Lowery, vice president of Rock Creek Global Advisors LLC; Bruce Zagaris, a partner at Berliner, Corcoran and Rowe LLP; and Robin Meister, managing director at BNP Paribas Investment Partners.
(Stephanie Green is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
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