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Transcript: Mayor Adams Appears Live on CNBC's "Squawk Box"

March 20, 2023

Andrew Ross Sorkin: New this morning, New York City mayor, Eric Adams, and the Partnership for New York City, launching a campaign today called We Love New York City. Joining us from Midtown Manhattan to discuss the city's post-pandemic economy, New York City Mayor Eric Adams is here. And Partnership for New York City president and CEO, Kathryn Wylde. Good morning to you both. Let's talk about this campaign, the state of New York City, and I want to get into some of the banking issues that have been confronting some of the city's banks as well. Mr. Mayor, where did this campaign come from?

Mayor Eric Adams: Well, the Partnership, Kathy Wylde, who's joining me today, and all of our corporations and businesses, we realize that we are here together and we love this city and we know what this city represents, not only here locally, but across the entire nation. New York is the economic engine of our nation and we want to ask people, let's all come together, no matter if it's volunteering to cleanup parks, volunteering at a homeless shelter. It's about all contributing together because this is the city we love.

Sorkin: Mr. Mayor, I want to get to Kathryn in just a moment, but just speak to this. I gather you've been on the phone with a number of the leading bank CEOs here in the city. We just saw the end, if you will, of Signature Bank. What are you hearing and what are you thinking about?

Mayor Adams: Well, the governor and I met with Kathy, and the Partnership, to really stabilize are fears that many people have. I want to really thank the federal government for stepping in last week. These are difficult times, but we are confident that we're going to navigate our way through. Right here in the city, we are seeing an amazing recovery; 99 percent of the jobs we lost in pre-pandemic, 16,000 jobs in January alone. We're just seeing a real recovery around tourism and all the other aspects of how to have a strong economy. So we believe the federal government, the state government here locally, we're going to stabilize this situation.

Sorkin: Kathryn, I want to talk about New York, but maybe you can speak specifically to so many companies that are part of the partnership and how they're thinking about the economy, not just in the city but across the country. Some having PTSD, as you know, from 2008. I hope we're not in that kind of a banking crisis, but clearly we're in something.

Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO, Partnership for New York: No, there is a lot of concern, but also faith that we put the tools in place after the last financial crisis. We really put the tools in place that are going to allow us to get through this without the kind of repercussions we had before. The financial system is not threatened today. As we saw last night, UBS has taken over the Swiss bank that was in danger of causing a systemic calamity. The fact that we can get through all this smoothly, the federal government is making sure nobody loses their deposits, so we're confident going forward. Unfortunately, the bank failure, the depression coming out of the pandemic, the anxiety people have felt, the divisiveness in our country, that's the reason for our campaign today, to say we've got things to celebrate. This is a great city. We're in a great country. We hope that our campaign can lead the nation, as the mayor said, in bringing back positive feelings, optimism about our future.

Sorkin: And you're wearing the t-shirt right there. Show off the t-shirt if we can, Kathryn. We Love New York, based on the iconic campaign that began, I Love New York, which was back in the 1970s.

Wylde: Absolutely.

Mayor Adams: So true. And that campaign really inspired us during the time of the seventies. I remember back then, and we just all started looking at that big heart and saying, "I Love New York." And instead of just the singular love in New York, altogether is what's going to make this city the great city that it is. And I see it every day when I'm on the subway system. You saw a few days ago, we had 3.9 million riders in one day. That is back to the pre-pandemic levels, decreasing crime in our subway. We're moving in the right direction and we are excited about this city and we love it.

Wylde: And it's a time for…

Sorkin: Mr. Mayor, we talked…

Wylde: ... we, not me.

Sorkin: We've talked a lot about safety in this city. And by the way, Kathryn's been on our broadcast talking about some of the safety issues that the CEOs that are part of the Partnership have raised with her. Where do you think we really are when it comes to safety and security in the city?

Mayor Adams: Well, it's clear. When you go back to January 2022 and February, almost 40 percent up in crime. We met with the Partnership, they did a survey and they pinpointed those important areas. We needed a safe subway system because people were afraid to ride the subways and come back to work. We zeroed in on it. We did the subway safety plan. In February, we rolled out the next version. In October, you saw the results. The customer satisfactory survey is through the roof. People are excited about being back on the subway system. The numbers don't lie. We knew we had to deal with the homelessness, the encampments, and create a safe environment, decrease in the major crimes, and as I stated, decreasing our shooters, our homicides. We're trending in the right direction and the city's coming back with the tourism. Hotels, 98 percent of pre-pandemic levels. When you look at the numbers, the numbers are going in the right direction. Now we're dealing with how people are feeling and bringing that positive attitude back to this amazing city. We're resilient. This is New York.

Sorkin: All right. Kathryn, I know the mayor's sitting right next to you, but are you satisfied?

Wylde: Absolutely. We are headed in the right direction, but we've got to show New Yorkers that they can step up and do something because people are frustrated. As the mayor mentioned, our surveys show that the negativity is because people don't know how they can help. And what we're going to try and show them through this campaign is that there are a million ways that New Yorkers can step up and take back our city, make sure that we're going in the right direction, and trust each other again.

Sorkin: What is your sense of the strength of the city right now in terms of the economy? We talk about hybrid jobs and what that impact has been. You look at a Monday and a Friday throughout the city, it's still complicated, obviously. By the way, this banking crisis, not helping things. Signature, of course, a major presence throughout the city. By the way, First Republic presence throughout the city as well. And then when you start to think about Credit Suisse and the thousands of employees that they have and what may happen to them, what's your thought?

Wylde: New York City's economy is bigger today than it was in 2019. We have hardly missed a beat when it comes to our economy. And in terms of small business, we have created, in the last year... There are 32,000 new businesses created in New York City in the last year. So we are absolutely headed in the right direction. As the mayor noted, we are safer than we have been, that crime is down, arrests are up. We're going in a positive direction in New York City, our economy is good, and we hope we're going to lead the nation in that direction as well.

Mayor Adams: And it's so important, when you think about it, the 957,000 jobs we lost during the pandemic, 99 percent of those jobs are back. Our small businesses are thriving. I was over at JP Morgan the other day. I saw the new building that they're building to have a major presence here. The companies are here. And then the tourism. Tourists are coming back. 56 million last year, 65 million this year. This is an exciting moment for our city. When you are in these dark moments, you think that that's a burial? No, it's supplanted. New York is going to come back and continue to come back bigger and better than ever.

Speaker 4: Mr. Mayor, just a quick question. We just had Scott Rechler on. He was saying that there's a crisis right now when it comes to commercial real estate. It's a bigger crisis than even workers not coming back to their offices, that they need help because of what's happening in the banking system right now and that there are going to be major problems if there's not some sort of help from the federal government so that they can renegotiate all the loans that are coming due in the next three years. Have you been involved with any of these talks? Do you have anything to say about it?

Mayor Adams: Yes. Scott is really a great New Yorker. RXR is a company that is extremely significant, just like SL Green and others. And we have been communicating with all of these retail spaces. And we may have to figure out how to redefine these spaces, just as we're looking at office spaces, to convert them into housing. There's some important legislation up in Albany right now and we want to partner with our Albany lawmakers to see how do we put in place things like 421Mm-a, find out how we use retail spaces for childcare spaces and other uses. So this is a time that we must all come together and redefine ourselves as a city and how we are living in this post-pandemic era.

Sorkin: Mr. Mayor, I want to thank you. Kathryn, I want to thank you. We can't do anything but root for New York City. Kathryn, you got a full page ad. Put it up on the screen so everybody can see. Look at that on the back of that. There it is.

Mayor Adams: Open that up.

Wylde: Open that up.

Sorkin: It's the other side. It's the other side. There it is. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Thank you, Kathryn. Appreciate it.

Mayor Adams: Thank you.

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