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20 Questions for ‘Money and Power’ Author William D. Cohan

Rural Intelligence Arts When RI last chatted with William D. Cohan, he had just published House of Cards, his New York Times best seller about the fall of Bear Stearns. Now he’s written another insider account of Wall Street greed called Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World (Doubleday; $30.50). Excerpted in the May issue of Vanity Fair, the book has been called “the frankest, most detailed, most human assessment of the bank to date” by BusinessWeek, which says “Money and Power suggests the bank does possess a few special powers, starting with its remarkable ability to convince some of the world’s smartest young people that touting stocks, sniffing out arbitrage opportunities, and shaking down corporate clients amount to a noble calling.”

Rural Intelligence CommunityAs a journalist-turned-investment-banker-turned-journalist again, Cohan enjoys engaging with his readers, and he will be reading from his book, answering questions and signing copies as a benefit for the Berkhsire Taconic Community Foundation at 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, at the Stissing House in Pine Plains. The event is being sponsored by Hammertown Barn, which is selling copies of the book in advance and at the door if they don’t sell out.  Here, Cohan shares with RI how he works and relaxes on weekends at his home in Ancramdale.

1. Why did you choose to buy a house in the Hudson Valley?
It’s a beautiful area 100 miles from New York City.

2. What’s the first thing you do when you arrive from the city?
Walk around the property, see what has changed from the week before and inhale the smell of manure on the fields.
Rural Intelligence Food 3. What’s your favorite way to spend a Friday night?
Dnner at Mercato in Red Hook or No. 9 in Millerton (or any restaurant associated with Mario Batali.)

4. What’s your favorite way to spend a Sunday morning?
Having a cup of tea, hanging out with my family.

5. Where’s you favorite spot for bargain hunting?
I don’t think it’s there anymore but Spag’s, in Shrewsbury, Massachsuetts, outside of Worcester.

6.  Where do you go for a self indulgent splurge?
Paris . . .

Rural Intelligence Community7. What’s your favorite one-hour drive from your house?
Great Barrington, Rhinebeck, Hudson, Bash Bish Falls.

8. What do you like most about country life?
Sitting around the fire with friends, having a beer or a glass of wine, and catching up.

9. What’s your favorite bookstore or bookstores?
Oblong in Millerton and Rhinebeck; Northshire Bookstore in Manchester, VT

10. What’s your favorite hardware store and/or garden center?
Duel’s in Pine Plains—it has a great smell; the Millerton Agway.

11. Who do you trust to recommend wines?
I am a craft beer drinker—I like Ommegang Brewery, Cooperstown; Sacketts Harbor Brewery; Dogfish Ale.

12. Who are your local heroes?
Art Bassin, who’s the head of the board of supervisors in Ancram, NY.

13. What newspapers or blogs do you read every day?
The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal,, The Financial Times.

14. Where and when do you write?
In my New York City apartment, in the kitchen of our home in Accramdale . . . anywhere there is a WiFi connection. I approach writing like a job: Get up, have some tea and write . . .

15. Where’s your favorite place for live performance?
Radio City Music Hall,  Town Hall,  Beacon Theatre,  SPAC, the Mahaiwe.

16. What’s are your favorite not-for-profit organizations?
American Farmland Trust, Berkshire Taconic Community FoundationColumbia Land Conservancy, New Yorkers for Parks.

Rural Intelligence Style 17. Do you think Hudson Valley real estate is a safe investment?
I do but more important it is a beautiful place to live, learn and share with your children and family.

18. What are you most looking forward to doing this summer?
Relaxing at the farm.

19. What three things do you always do with house guests?
Go to Hammertown Barn, go out to dinner, go to a maple syrup farm.

20. Is there a difference between investment bankers who have weekend houses in the Hudson Valley and those with houses in the Hamptons?
Yes there are differences. There is no “scene” upstate where bankers or other professionals feel the need to preen and show off like they do during the week. I’m not sure the same can be said for bankers in the Hamptons.

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Posted by Dan Shaw on 05/17/11 at 05:24 PM • Permalink