Citadel’s Griffin Looks Beyond Chicago Amid Surging Crime
(Bloomberg) -- Citadel founder Ken Griffin said his firm’s future in Chicago may be counted in years, not decades, if officials don’t get a handle on problems like crime in the nation’s third-most-populous city.
New York has become the “center point” for Griffin’s $38 billion hedge fund, he said. Citadel is hiring all over the country, and is on the verge of acquiring office space in Miami. While New York is still a huge source of hiring, Chicago has “become smaller on a relative basis,” he said Monday in a conversation with Bloomberg’s Erik Schatzker at the Economic Club of Chicago. Recruiting workers there is tougher now and fewer people want to call the city home, he said.
“It’s becoming ever more difficult to have this as our global headquarters, a city which has so much violence,” Griffin, 52 said, citing recent shootings and a carjacking attempt that his security detail fended off as examples of the spike in crime.
Even as he watches friends leave for states from Florida to Wyoming, Griffin said he still hopes Chicago retains the Bears after the NFL team’s owners last week announced an agreement to buy a large property in suburban Arlington Heights.
Griffin, who founded Citadel’s hedge fund business and Citadel Securities, also called for leaders to address Illinois’s ongoing financial problems.
Illinois was the only state to tap the Federal Reserve’s Municipal Liquidity Facility, and did so twice to close a gap caused by the pandemic amid a surge in its borrowing penalty in the bond market. Illinois also has an unfunded pension liability of about $144 billion and almost no rainy day fund, leaving it still the U.S. state with the worst credit rating even after improving revenue and billions in federal aid ease its financial strain.
“Illinois has to put its house in order,” Griffin said. “Every single day that slips through our fingers, the liabilities get bigger and the ability to change course gets smaller.”
Griffin is a frequent critic of Democratic Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker. He opposed a Pritzker-backed ballot measure to shift the state to a graduated income tax from a flat rate, and voters decided against the change in the November 2020 election. The governor had pushed the graduated levy to increase revenue for the state, which has faced back-to-back deficits. Griffin contributed about $50 million to groups that successfully defeated the measure.
Griffin also criticized what he called Pritzker’s lack of involvement in addressing the wave of crime in the city, an assertion that the governor’s office said was inaccurate.
“Governor Pritzker is dedicated to the safety of this city and state, deployed the National Guard during the social unrest in the summer of 2020 and is making landmark investments in crime prevention,” Emily Bittner, a Pritzker spokesperson, said in an emailed statement Monday. “Governor Pritzker will continue working to help local leaders as they confront the national epidemic of gun violence.”
A spokesperson for Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot did not respond immediately to emailed and phone requests for comment.
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