tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg February 27, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm EST
♪ announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: on june 23, voters in the united kingdom will decide whether to leave the european union. as of last year, the chances of brexit seems remote. recent polls suggest more britons do not want to stay. in what was seen as a major rebuke to prime minister david cameron, the london mayor , boris johnson, recently declared his support for the brexit. he said remaining in the e.u. would lead to an erosion of democracy. joining me is john micklethwait. he is the editor in chief of
bloomberg from 2006 22014, he was editor in chief of "the economist" magazine, which is where i first got to know him. i am pleased to have him back at this table. welcome. john: i am delighted to be associated with any erosion of. -- of democracy. charlie explain this to us. : john: the british have long been in the state of angst about europe. cameron decided to offer them a referendum. huge debates about whether he should have done that. that is the starting the british point. have not voted this since the 1970's. i think there was a lot of pressure on cameron to give them a chance to have another say on this. it has been building and building, particularly within the conservative party. david cameron and the conservative party. within the conservative party, the easiest way to think about europe is it is roughly akin to being pro-life in the republican party. if you want to be selected as a tory being skeptical about
, europe is part of being elected. anyway cameron's deal has always , been he would go to europe and he would come back with kind of improvements in the relationship. charlie: he negotiated with? john: angela merkel and francois hollande. he brought the package back to parliament and said we will have a referendum on whether to stay in or go. i will offer everyone a free vote, but i want to stay. charlie rose: stop right there, --l us what the european and union is, and what is the advantage of being a member of the european union. john: you're part of the world's biggest free-trade zone, the biggest economy. that is the main reason why people would think it is a bad idea to leave. there is a bigger reason for the people who set it up, which did not include the british. the french and the germans, really the european union was about trying to bring peace and long-term prosperity to europe. slightly ays been project of the elite. it was set up at a time when
people worried about population. charlie rose: the economy together -- didn't they? john for a long time, europe was : very proper. in the 1970's, back then to be a pro european was a big thing in britain. margaret thatcher was less that way inclined. ever since then, the conservative party has been more skeptical. there is a sort of division. the british are stuck with possibly the most cosmopolitan nation in the world. we have always welcomed foreigners. on the other hand, we are insular. no surprise, we are an island. those things clash. charlie: what did he negotiate? john: he gained a little bit. he gained the idea the european union is not always about ever closer union. particularly for britain. he has got a few opt outs to do
with welfare reforms. at the moment, one of the biggest issues in europe is to do with migrants, particularly internal migrants in the european union. what is happening at the moment people are getting angry about ofhe number czechoslovakian's and polish coming to britain and claiming benefits. he has a rule that says you get seven years before you are allowed to get benefits. it is worth something, but not really the sort of thing you can go out and so on the streets of britain with a passionate declaration. the main argument for staying in , which he will make repeatedly is the prospects of going out are much worse. in some ways everything has been reversed. the ideological dreamers are largely those who want to take britain out. they think britain could become this free trading paradise. charlie: britain is a member of the european union but not a member of the eurozone. john: exactly. charlie: that was the point i was making there is economic unity. there were two points -- you
have corrected me, and i am not sure i am not right. it is the idea europe has had some economic dimensions which have been successful. the political dimension has not been. john: the british have never bought into the lyrical. -- into the political edge. now there are many other people that feel the same way. in france, you have marine le pen. you have other people throughout europe asking questions. the really dangerous thing about the brexit at this moment, and i should confess i'm one of those people that things britain -- thinks that britain should stay in european union. i was against britain joining the euro because i thought the crazy dreamers were inside europe. this time, i think the crazy dreamers are inside britain trying to take away. ,-- take it away. i am a crazy dreamer in that case. john i think boris johnson is : being opportunistic.
charley: in terms of not joining the eurozone. john in terms of joining the : eurozone, a lot of the big british banks, cbi, and various people came out saying it would be better to join the euro. they were wrong i think because britain had the economy heading in a different direction. what is happening now though, which is interesting, and the reason why everybody pretty much -- america as well, this is about the west as well as britain, that is encoded with important. if britain leaves, it is probably bad for britain but , also bad for the european union. you will have france and germany pretty much left alone. you don't have this balancing act. you also have the most dynamic economy in europe which is britain. if it goes out, you will see other problems coming back to haunt it. there are other things to do with security in all of these other things. the reason for americans to worry is not just -- charlie: if europe acted as a unit, it would be the largest economy in the world. john: it is the largest economy in the world.
but it is not in terms of the clouds that comes with that. the divisions within it. charlie: and cultural divisions. john: it is interesting what you were saying about the political thing. ed boles is one of the advisors to gordon brown. he told me about a meeting in the old days when they sat around a table, the british, the french, the germans. everyone around the european table. the great man at the center of europe, the person who pushed it toward -- forward turned to the belgians and said you have to do this for europe. now the ability to persuade anybody at all to do anything for europe is much less. it is like the united states with each state fighting desperately for its bit. charlie: is boris johnson in opposition for political reasons, or for a deep and passionate belief about economics in the european union? john: i think there is a strong amount of personal ambitions.
there has always been tension between him and cameron on many different levels. he is dying to become the successor to david cameron. there is principle as well. boris has always been a euro-skeptic. includingny others, cameron and osborne, but they have made the decision in this particular case the cost of leaving is so gigantic it is not worth doing. charlie: does george osborne get all of the credit, and does he deserve most of the credit for what happened to the british economy? john: i think he deserves a lot of credit. some would say he took a bit of a gamble in the same way david cameron is taking a gamble now. i think what osborne has managed to do is convey the message that some degree austerity was of necessary. charlie: what it just wasn't the right economic -- john in terms of the numbers, he : has been proven right. there are many people, larry prominent american to some extent have had to beat
the head on this. charlie: whoever thought -- john people said this would not : work. strangely, that balance between having relatively tight fiscal policy, never quite as tight as osbourne talks, and a loose monetary policy has worked. the british economy got going quicker and better than the rest of europe. that is another reason why if the british left, it would have a dramatic effect on the rest of the european union. charley: what do you think -- now, it will be -- the vote will be when? john: june 23. at the moment, things are very close. i wrote a piece called "the 20% world." there was a 20% chance of britain leaving. a lot of those keep going up. charlie: is there any common trend you can see? if you look at the labour party, it is more left. france, le pen
suggests right-wing parties have a certain -- because of the migrant issue and other issues -- a certain gaining of strength. john: in terms of what is happening at the moment, you look across the west and see a repeated thing. you see people who are angry and cross because they feel left behind by globalization, left behind by an economy which seems to be rewarding some people more than them. they feel angry, and one change. they seem to be turning to -- want change. they seem to be turning to leaders such as donald trump and marine le pen and boris johnson. the people who say, look, i am a person who tells it like it is i , am the person who will tell you what is wrong with the world and try and fix it, there is a deep ennui. as the french say. the reason the european union is particularly prone to this is because it is very much an elitist project set up by the elites.
whenever they have had referendums before and referendums have gone against the project, the europeans have sent it back and said vote again , until you get it right. charlie: what is going to happen? john: i think one of the many consequences of brexit, why this makes a series of things happen, one set of things to do with britain and their relation with europe, and what happens in the european union. what happens with scotland is interesting. what is likely if the british vote to go out is the scottish will probably have voted to remain in. what will immediately happen after the referendum is an exit. you can expect to see david cameron go. very soon after that you can expect to see the scots say we did not play any role in this and we want independence. among the many, many things that could follow a brexit is probably the division of the united kingdom. that is a big thing. charlie: what is your best guess? john: at the moment i guess is
britain will probably stay in. we are sitting high above lexington avenue at the moment. if i said charlie, walk across the road and there is a 60% chance you will reach the other side, you might think twice before going across it. it is the risk, the downside is a big one and frightens people even if the odds at the moment are on staying in. charley: that is the unknown. john it is the unknown because : nobody has had the chance to ask the british people about this in 40 years. people are angry with their leaders, just as they are here. people are cross about many things in europe such as too much regulation, not enough opening of markets. people fundamentally also won't have a say about this. the real question, much like scotland is will they be scared in a strange way? in this case, as in scotland, the negative side will be don't do this, the risks are too high.
after suggesting regulatory efforts had failed to curb the risk posed by large banks. he proposed they could be broken up, and regulated by public utilities, or or have increased capital requirements. i'm pleased to have neel kashkari back at this table. welcome. neel: thank you, it is great to be here. charlie rose let me talk about : your career. you were an engineer. i think you went up as an analyst to silicon valley? neel: after business school, i went to silicon valley. that was after i was a banker at goldman. charlie: hank, the c.e.o. of goldman sachs, goes to treasury. did you write him a letter or call him? neel: i called him up. i met him once for 10 minutes. charlie rose he said come to : washington, let's talk. neel: i met with him. he was not yet confirmed. i went in with a pitch like i want you to hire me. he said stop with your pitch. i need somebody on my team who will do what needs to get done. how does that sound? i said sign me up.
this was a year before the financial crisis. none of us saw it coming. charlie: you had deep involvement. that is over. hank leaves as secretary of the treasury. you go back to california. you were wondering what you would do. you run for public office having never served in public office and running for governor. , neel: i looked around the country and saw a lot of people running for office. i thought if they could do it, why can't i do it? i looked at the state of california, and i thought, california still has the highest poverty rate in america. i have lived the american dream my parents came here, immigrants , from india. i grew up a normal middle-class kid. i get to work for the president of the united states. what a great country. i said i want to give every kid in california the shot i had. that starts with a good education, and and getting a good job. that is what i ran on. you won the:
primary the first time out as a politician. you learned a lot. you may do that later. you end up in minneapolis is -- minneapolis, as head of the federal reserve in that city. how did that happen? neel: there are 12 regional federal reserve banks around the country. they each have boards of directors. their board of director was looking for a new c.e.o. and they conducted a nationwide search. their search firm contacted me, said, would i be interested i , applied, went through the process, and was selected. charlie rose: what is your role there? neel: i lead an organization of about 1000 people at the minneapolis fed. there is a management element. i sit on the federal open market committee. i help discuss interest-rate policy for the country. i get involved in broader policy issues around the ninth district. it is not just minnesota. it is north and south dakota, montana, michigan. and wisconsin. charlie: you make a speech that is enormously controversial, especially in the city, but also washington. first, the question is what did
you think of the regulations passed after the crash in 2007-2008? neel: i strongly supported the need for financial reform. when dodd-frank passed, i supported it, that i was worried maybe it did not go far enough. it did not address the too big to fail issue with the largest banks. i gave a speech in 2011 at the federal reserve bank of chicago where i articulated my concerns. i wanted to reserve judgment. charlie: after dodd-frank, too big to fail was still a problem. neel: none of us, no matter your political party, none of us wants to be in a position where we have to use taxpayer money to stabilize large banks. the question i asked is, did dodd-frank go far enough? now, here we are i joined the , federal reserve. i'm talking to the experts. the minneapolis fed literally wrote the book on too big to fail before the crisis, the original version. there are a lot of experts in minneapolis. i started talking to them on their ideas about too big to fail. i realized my concerns are still valid.
we have these giant banks at the center of our financial system. the problem is if one of them , collapses, there are all these linkages to the whole economy. it is like the heart, the arteries, and the veins. if you have a heart attack, it can kill the whole body. that is what we saw in 2008. when the biggest banks ran into trouble, they brought the whole economy down with them. in contrast, think about silicon valley. we had the tech boom. that was in the it crashed in 1990's. 2000. devastating for silicon valley, but it did not cause devastation for the whole american economy. that is the unique thing about having these giant banks at the center of our financial system. they can do a lot of good. but when they run into trouble, they can cause a lot of harm. policymakers like me, and my former boss, secretary paulson and the federal reserve had to step in to use taxpayer money to stabilize them. charlie: you did not do a good job explaining why it was about rescuing the banks.
it was not about taking care of main street. neel: i agree. communication was something we always struggled with. we were trying to project confidence to the markets. we were trying to let congress and the american people know how scared we were. those are two different messages, but we only had one microphone. we ended up with a muddled message that did not satisfy anybody. charlie: when you say too big to fail today, how many are too big to fail? neel: 20 have been designated as financially significant. charlie: meaning they cannot be allowed to fail. l: a sickly, that is what that means. charlie rose because if they : fail they will take down the system in part. neel: conditions matter a lot. we have made progress. the banks have more capital today, which is their buffer against bad things going wrong. that is a good thing. charlie: capital requirements were changed by dodd-frank and others. neel: they are stronger than before the crisis. but i don't want the american , people to be left with the impression that we may not be back in the same place again.
my view is we need to take transformational reform to solve the too big to fail issue so we never have to ask taxpayers again. charlie rose: what do you say to the idea that the people who have been penalized have been big. but not the people in the banks who made the decisions. the -- with you on that concern. the managers don't pay. it is the shareholders who end up paying. that is not fair. charlie: what would you do about it? neel: i'm not a lawyer. this is an issue for the department of justice. it is hard for me to know the real solution. i think as a country, we need to take a fresh look at that. charlie rose: a fresh look? meaning may be hold the people accountable, even though we just held their institutions accountable? neel: see if there is a legal framework we can put in place where people are on the hook for the fraudulent decisions. charlie: banks like j.p. morgan, just to take one, others -- wells fargo, i would assume they are too big to fail. but they would say we are never going to fail.
they will say we did not fail in 2008. neel: they did not fail in 2008 because the american people stepped in. and they are kidding themselves -- charlie: jamie dimon would say we did not want or need the money you gave us. you made us take it. you know it is true. henry paulson made them take it because he did not want somebody not being part of it because he thought the crisis was so deep that everybody had to be part of the solution. neel: that is true. jamie dimon,i like personally, i am not here to demonize anybody but if all of , j.p. morgan's major counterparts were in bankruptcy, they would be in bankruptcy too. the notion they were strong at that moment was only true because the american people stepped in to save all of their friends around the table. charlie: you saw that with the a.i.g. failure. neel: absolutely, they had to step in to rescue a.i.g. because
of everybody else who would have been dragged down. we never want to be in that situation again. charlie: there are two options. number one, you break up the banks. number two, you can set higher standards of capitalization. neel: correct. the second one, i made a comparison to nuclear power -- to a nuclear power plant. a nuclear power plant, if it melts down, it is devastating for society. governments will do whatever they have to do to stabilize the nuclear power plant before it melts down. nuclear power is an important element of our country. but we have incredible regulations around it to try to control and protect it. if we conclude we need huge banks, let's capitalize them like a nuclear power plant so they are truly safe and secure. we can never eliminate all risk, but i think we can go a lot further than we have gone today. charlie: this has been a controversial speech. you knew that going in, john larry, acting chief executive of the financial services form said breaking up the global financial institutions would ensure one of the united states most competitive industries serving companies small and large is
turned over to banks based outside the u.s. neel: if other countries want to take extreme risks with their financial systems, we cannot stop them. i think we should do what is right for our economy and taxpayers. maybe we can set the example for other countries. charlie: if they don't, should -- could they take advantage of what we have done -- what we suggest should be done? neel: it is possible. i think we have thousands of banks in america. i would expect to see small and midsized banks grow to fill the -- some of the voids that may be created in the short term if our large banks were restructured. charlie: how would you break them up? neel: there are a number of ways to do it. one way to do it is glass-steagall. i'm sure when they looked at breaking up at&t, people said it is too big and complicated. they figured out how to do it. we can simply set very high capital requirements as a function of size which would in effect force the banks to
more aggressively break themselves up. there are a lot of ways of doing this. the industry will argue big companies like boeing need global banks. i believe there is truth to that. there are economies of scale. the cost-benefit analysis needs -- means you have to consider the cost as well. charlie: the cost is you may risk failing. : we may risk another financial crisis. charlie: because you are so big? neel: who is going to be running j.p. morgan in 30 years? i don't know who it is going to be. maybe it is not somebody who is as good a steward as jamie dimon. we need to think about these things. the costs to the american people are so devastating. charlie rose: there's the question of interest rate. -- rates. has the fed acted wisely? neel: i think so. janet yellen has put down the marker of let's not be dogmatic. let's look at the data. congress has given us a dual mandate.
stable prices, which means low inflation, and maximum employment. the good news is the job market continues to be strong. we continue to put more americans back to work. that will lead to higher wages for americans. that will bring inflation up to our target. i feel good about where she is taking us. charlie: should we raise the minimum wage? neel: there are pros and cons. it depends on the overall unemployment situation. if you're starting from high unemployment and raise the minimum wage, you make it harder for people who don't have a job to get a job. if you put a lot of people back to work and raise the minimum wage, the consequences are not so grave. personally, i think a regional approach may be better than a national approach. that is outside the window of the fed. charlie: when this crisis was happening, there was a lot of working together between congress and the executive office you are part of. the president pretty much handed it over to hank paulson. talk about central banks today, federal reserve in the united
states, and the role they are playing. neel: all the central banks around the world are taking leadership in trying to get their economies growing again. many central banks are struggling with some of the same challenges. in many developed economies, inflation is coming in below where central bankers would want it to be. we all wanted to be around 2%, yet we are struggling to get back to that level. some economists would say it is because central banks have not shown enough conviction. i don't believe that. it is hard to see they are all undershooting. we are struggling. i think that in the u.s., we have advantages. we are creating jobs faster than europe. that is a good thing. if we can keep putting americans back to work, that will lead to economic growth. charlie: is it fair to say the jury is still out as to whether raising interest rates was the right thing to do? neel: i think so. our most recent estimate is for moderate economic growth. if that happens, the root expect
-- then we would expect to continue to raise interest rates as the data allows. i don't buy the argument that the volatility in the markets now is because the fed raised rates in december. there are a lot of other things going on. charlie: thanks for being here. back in a moment. stay with us. ♪ >> terry mcauliffe is here. let's start with national politics, handicap the hillary-bernie race. why such a tight race? >> he has been saying a lot of things that can't happen. he is promising everybody a free college education. as governor of virginia, i would love to give everybody in virginia a free college education. there is zero chance that could be passed and put into law. you cannot afford it.
he is promising everybody -- take it even where hard-working president obama did with free health care, a lot of folks hear that, it sounds great. the reality is, you and i are older, we have at the end of the day, it could never become law. al: let's talk about young people. young people like bernie sanders and they don't like hillary clinton. you have five kids. one of them goes to a great institution of higher learning, my alma mater. why are they so turned off by hillary? terry: listen, we're just in the beginning of the process. we have only had two contests.
al: so you think she could wrap this up by march 15. terry: i think after march 15, statistically, bernie sanders will not be able to win. remember, that's what president obama did. i think it is a very talented team. they know the mechanics. last time, there wasn't even a delegate operation. to become the democratic nominee, you have to win delegates. that is the plan he has put forth. this is a long haul, running for president. we have had two contests. al: some people want to replace robbie. you think that would be a mistake. terry: listen, i have been in clinton world for a long time. this is not the easiest place to survive. al: it's a big constellation. terry: it's a big constellation. we have one big one. al: robbie knows that. you have talked about the
sanders agenda being unrealistic. what is the hillary message? james carville had the great mantra, it's about the economy, stupid. you could put that on a bumper sticker. what is hillary's message? terry: her whole life she has fought for these issues. she got out of yale and went to work for the children's legal defense fund. she went to china and talked about women's issues, the first one to go over there and hammer that issue. her voice --
al: do you think that's coming across? terry: i wish it would come across more, but like i said, it's early in the process. but listen, on the republican side, there has been a lot of static up in the air. president obama when he ran against hillary, he made her secretary of state. that tells you something. she has said to democrats that she's going to continue the policies of president obama. sanders has been critical. he has called the president weak and indecisive, which he is neither. >> will she win virginia easily? >> not easily. none of this is ever easy, and i give senator sanders credit. >> but how big she wins matters. >> sure it does. we got out of new hampshire and then we both got 15 delegates. >> how big of a victory are you anticipating? >> i'm not going to speculate. i was on tv the night of the iowa caucus. a win is a win. >> before we get to virginia, let me ask you to put your political hat on and look at the
republican party. what do you make of the donald trump phenomenon? >> first of all, it has been a circus to watch these debates. i mean, if you watch senator sanders -- even when martin o'malley was in, it was a good, substantive debate. it has been embarrassing to watch these debates. i think we are the greatest nation on earth. can we make it better? of course.
but all of this china is killing us, japan -- >> it seems to be working for donald trump. >> in a certain segment of the population. >> who would be the toughest republican to beat? >> at in ted cruz would have a tough time. i know people see the attraction of marco rubio. >> john kasich? >> let's look at electoral college states. john kasich is from ohio. rubio is from florida. but they have to worry about their left and right flank as well. >> he would be a stronger candidate. >> 270 electoral votes. look at how many the democrats start out with and how many
republicans. how do you grow the electoral college? you have to go to states with large hispanic populations. they have watched this republican debate and the attacks on the hispanic community and the immigrant community, and it is a turnoff. we generally get in the mid-60% of the hispanic vote. i think now it could be an historic tide for democrats. with the rhetoric that has gone on, i think there's a real possibility of historic turnout.
people are angry. closing our borders. the issues with refugees. the idea of no muslims in the country anymore. there are a billion muslims in the world. we are asking them to help us fight isis in the middle east. >> there is one issue, whether the redistricting controversy will go to the supreme court. with the death of justice scalia, it looks unlikely that what you have done so far will be overturned. >> have just gone through the process in virginia. the lines were very unfair. it was 8-3 republican to democrat. all state lines now are democrats. we have gone through the process and re-drawn some lines. i find it highly unlikely the supreme court will do anything about it. they will leave it the way it is. we have other seats that are very competitive.
in northern virginia, there's always an opportunity. a very rich area to pick up democratic seats. a huge opportunity with the republican held seat up there. i think florida has added two seats to the process. we have three new seats that will go to the democratic column. >> thank you so much for being with us and think you all for watching. ♪
charlie: roger angell is here, a long-time contributor with the new yorker magazine. he is also the only writer to be inducted into both the baseball hall of fame and the american academy of arts and letters. his title essay offers a reflection of growing older and life in its 10th decade. it won the 2015 american society of magazine editors best essay award. he said it has also brought him more kindness from readers than anything he has ever written. i am pleased to have roger angell back at this table. >> how are you? charlie: i'm good. better than that, you are good. your wife died and you remarried. >> happily remarried. >> you talk about this, loneliness. >> loneliness and life goes on.
we find that unbearable things happen to us, losses, and the weight of losses seems unbearable. somehow we are better and happier, and we look around, and we are the same as we were before. charlie: here is what you said in the essays genesis. i wrote this whole piece in pieces. i didn't know what to do with it. there's a lot in there about
loss, but it's not the central theme. i lost my older daughter. i lost my wife of 48 years. we lost a wonderful dog of ours who jumped out of a window during a snowstorm. these things are wound in and out. there are jokes. jokes about death even. i think it sounds like me. i love good jokes. tell us about aging beyond what i have just said and what you have just said. >> aside from the arrival of sex in the early teens or before, it is the second biggest surprise in your life. you don't feel old, and suddenly you look and see how old you are. i think almost all old people feel the same, just farther down the line. there's a great misconception
that sense we are bowed and move slowly, we have given up. i don't think that's true of most people. life keeps happening. charlie: did this really resonate with people your age? >> enormously. charlie: that life keeps happening. >> one phenomenon, if you are in conversation at a dinner party or something, you speak, and then everybody looks at you and nods and the conversation goes on as if you hadn't said anything. it's the invisibility of age. behind that is the notion of well, he is old. he has had his turn and now it is our turn. this book is a collection in some way of helping people feel less invisible. charlie: things that have been recognized but not expressed. that is what good writers do. they give expression to other people's thoughts. >> the essay got a lot of responses. i am trying not to become a spokesman for people my age,
just me and what happens to me. it has been surprising. the other thing that has really surprised me is that young people are reading the book and saying, now i see. but they also think, it's not going to be so bad when i get there. sometimes it's horrible. there have been bad times and losses. losses are unbearable. charlie: how do you bear them? >> well, i say in there, i have been going to the same therapist for years and years. it's not therapy anymore. it's scheduled conversations. after my wife died -- we had been married 48 years -- i said, i don't know how i will be able to bear this or stand this. she said neither do i, but you will. perfect thing to say. charlie: you love baseball more than anything.
>> more than anything? charlie: more than any sport. >> it has been a great fit for some reason. charlie: the hall of fame is a good fit as well. >> i have never looked for deeper meaning in baseball, the connection to america, but the connection to my main job has been as a fiction editor. writing and baseball both look easy, but are really hard to do. much harder than it looks. that's part of why you keep going. charlie: when you watch baseball and the major-league leagues, you are looking at the best of
the best of the best. >> and it's hard for them. there is a difference between the top level players and the low level players. charlie: but it's hard for them, isn't it? >> i'm not so sure it's hard for hank aaron. somebody asked him once, how does it feel to know you will get two hits tonight? and he said i never think that. if i don't get two hits tonight, i will get two hits tomorrow. the thing to think about is the .240 hitter who is just going along. he just wants one extra-base hit a week.
charlie: and two extra-base hits per week would make him a.300 hitter. >> the struggle is endless. and the writing struggle -- what i really love -- there are writers i have worked with for years. john updike, anne beatty. you might each have a copy and you have a sense there is something wrong in the telling, something a little off, and you are trying to think, what are we going to do about this?
john updike for 50 years would do this over and over. there would be a little passage, and then we would be on the last day, going to press later that day, and he would phone me in and have re-written an entire passage. he would say how does that sound? he would say it to himself, because he would want to think how is the reader going to take it? all about the reader. does this sound better? does this sound better? charlie: john updike was also competitive, you have told us. you were excited about some young novelist and he went home -- >> i would sometimes say -- we talked back-and-forth on the
phone a lot, and i would say john, there's a wonderful new story in the magazine this week coming out, a wonderful new writer. i think you will like it. he would say, really, and about three weeks later, there would be a new story from him. [laughter] charlie: i am hesitant to do this, but i mean, were there any of them who came forward and spoke to you and made you think, this is the talent of god? >> i think i thought that about donald barthamene. he was unlike anybody else when he arrived. full artistic references, historic references, references of the day. heartbreaking, funny, completely surprising, over and over again. half the people on the magazine didn't understand them and were angry that we were publishing
them. the editor loved him as well and said i don't know what this is, but it is really something else. other people thought he was -- like i said, as long as he was writing for us, he was going to be ok, in a general sense. charlie: tina brown got you to write about yourself. >> she did. i had a sense of privacy writing about my family, my children, my own life, that i still have, i think. but she said you have had an interesting life. try to write more. that's why a wrote this book. there's a lot of personal stuff in there. and i will always be grateful to her, absolutely. charlie: was it hard for you want to started? >> there were people i wanted to write about. i wanted to write about my stepfather, eb white, who was not only a great writer, but physically, one of the most graceful people. he was very shy. hypochondriac. i would hear him every week. he would write the comment page for the new yorker and then monday and tuesday he would lock himself in his study. you would hear these long pauses. he would come out for lunch and not say anything. he was very serious. he would mail something off in the 2:00 male and say it wasn't good enough.
you would read it, and he would come back the next monday and say well, not bad. but the amazing thing about that, when you read it, it seems like the easiest thing in the world, like you are dashing off a letter or talking to somebody. charlie: but you knew the agony. >> writing, there are some people for whom it is easier than others. charlie: it's hard for you. >> not as hard as it used to be. it used to be very hard for me to start a peace. there would be enormous and of the season baseball things, the world series, and all that stuff. and i would freeze and say i can't do it. after a while, i think i learned that i can do this sort of thing, so the start isn't as hard as it used to be. i am surrounded with wonderful writers. new york is the greatest venue
for writers. i have always had wonderful writers around me, and i see them thinking, what is the matter with me? why isn't this working. if you are writing on a deadline, all of that goes away. charlie: your mother was a fiction editor. >> the first fiction editor, catherine wright. charlie: you held the position your mother held. >> i ended up in her office. in the back of her closet, i found a round saying of face powder of my mothers's. and i told this to a therapist, and he said the greatest single act of sublimation, in my experience, was living in my mother's office. charlie: were you an athlete at all? >> i was a boy athlete but not a good boy athlete. i had a good curveball. i loved tennis. i played pretty good tennis over the years. i played a lot of doubles with people my age, and playing doubles with the same people year after year, so you always knew were they would hit the ball.
charlie: you kept a diary? >> never. charlie: why not? you are a man of letters. >> i never had daily thoughts. charlie: is that necessary to keep a diary? >> i don't know. but one thing i did that was unusual -- and donald put me onto this. he said, if you want to change your writing, turn the paper around and just start writing across whatever is on your mind. cross writing. you can start cross writing and say i meant that based on so in so-and-so, or a funny thing happened, or great weather on tuesday. start going across. it's entirely different. it's not what you would write if you are writing this way. i used to do that. and fill in my thoughts. sometimes i have written 10 or 12 pages long and about what has happened in the last few years. but not as a regular thing. charlie: it seems to me, first of all, whoever said i don't know what i think until i see what i wrote -- whoever said
that -- >> i am trying to go somewhere. charlie: when you are writing a sentence, you are trying to go somewhere. >> i am trying to talk to the invisible reader. charlie: what brings you joy in life. where would you put work? >> work is very high. writing is very high. if i have written something, i feel good. charlie: you are a great man, and i thank you for taking this time. i thrilled that you are as healthy and able as you are and that you are able to contribute things like this that help connect to all of us.