Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"525,600 Minutes" - Happy New Year!

“525,600 Minutes – How do you measure, measure a year?” I woke up early this morning with that song in my head. It is New Years Eve, a big day for me. A day I sit down and write a letter to myself about the year gone by and set some goals for the one to come. What a year it has been. It has been a historic one. For me? Yes. But more importantly for the world.

For the world?

”525,600 Minutes – How do you measure, measure a year?” In homes prices, in bankruptcies, in rate cuts and weekend rescues. In soldiers, in civilians, in guns and surges. In stock prices, in credit spreads, in default swaps and leveraged loans. “How do you measure, measure a year?” In hedge fund failures, in ponzi schemes, in letters to investors. In election results, in new leadership and promises of a better future. In children, in education, in health care and fiscal stimulus. “How do you measure, measure a year?”

For me?

“525,600 Minutes – How do you measure, measure a year?” In new friendships, in workouts, in walks with my dog Sunnie. In games of risk, movies, batches of cupcakes and trips to Canada. In blog entries, in headlines, in stories of the financial meltdown. In CFG meetings, in girls nights out, in trips to the grocery store. How do you measure, measure a year? In board meetings, in business ideas, and in checks for charities. In emails, in sermons, in speeches and trips to Starbucks. In school drop offs, in community and in dreams for a better future. “525,600 minutes, how do you measure a year? How about Love? How about Love? Measure in Love… Seasons of Love.”

Happy New Year!!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Markets, Printing Money and Ben Stein

Last week was a quiet one for the equity markets in general, down slightly on continued bad news regarding the global economy. Retail sales were bad ( down 8% yr over yr in dec) , as expected, witht the luxery goods sector getting hammered ( down 21%). If my visit to the mall yesterday was any indication of what to expect in Jan and Feb... expect a lot of store closures, bankruptcies, and more. What struck me driving in to Stamford was that EVERY building was advertising space available. This was simply not true a year ago.

I am gathering my thoughts and material to both do a 2008 review and a 2009 outlook, but here are a few pieces to get you thinking.


Printing Money and It's Price - This feature in the NYT Week in Review speaks to one of the biggest themes of the year: America's credit addiction. Back on January 22nd of this year I wrote this:

For an entry back in NOV on a similar topic - Too Much Debt! Click here.

The second piece worth a read is one my Ben Stein - "They Told Me He Never Lost Money." Yes he is talking about Madoff but his real point is this. "We are more than our investments. We are more than the year-to-year or day-to-day changes inour net worth. We Are what we do for charity. We are how we treat our family and friends. We are what we do for our community and our nation." I like that!

This is a glimpse of what is to come in my year end newsletter - sign up on the right if you have not already. Yes it has been a horrible year but there is HOPE. Hope comes from realizing what is important and taking action. Have a great day.

Friday, December 26, 2008

"Walk With Me" and Transcending

First and foremost I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Mine was spent here with my husbands family, all 18 of us, eating and being Merry! Coming soon will be some end of year market related posts... but one more piece that is in the spirit of the season.

"Walk With Me" - Jacki Zehner, 2002

I am walking outside, alone
Then suddenly - I begin to shake.
I stop a sec to look around
Am I dreaming or awake?

The air it seems way too cool
For what seems this time of year.
I begin to get the sense
That the cool is my own fear.

I keep on walking straight ahead
Knowing not which way to turn.
Thinking of all left behind
And all that I have learned.

I see something ahead of me
A bench is on the road,
As if put there just for me
To help relieve my load.

I drop down to rest and think
For I can no longer stand.
Suddenly I’m scared and turn
For there is someone holding my hand.

Do not be afraid she/he says
I’m here to show you the way.
I wake up, get out of bed
And get down on my knees to pray.


I also wanted to share this video clip By Kelly Corrigan. It has had over 1.5 mm hits on Youtube and is a speech everyone should hear. This is the reality of women's lives so beautifully stated... Thank you Kelly.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wonder Woman, Kindness, and Changing the World

The days that lead up to Christmas are often some the most stressful ones of the year for me. The list of ‘to dos’ is so long that I generally feel like my head is going to explode. The cards, the gifts, the baking, the the the….. As much as a try to stay organized and plan ahead, every year it is the same. The 23rd is generally my freak out day when my husband tries to sit me down and say “Jacki, you really do not need to do all of it.” Need. Need versus want. That has been a theme this year. Why is it I feel like I NEED to do all this at Christmas? Give presents and cards to dozens of teachers, doctors, the dentist, even the local post office staff? Heck…. why do I feel like I NEED to do all that I do in general? Serve on boards? Write? Give Speeches? And so forth……… Why?

Yesterday I was making my usual Christmas rounds around town dropping off baked goods and Christmas candy when I was stopped in my tracks. With my son waiting in the car I dashed in to the post office and with a quick "Merry Christmas" and thank you to the wonderful staff handed over a tray full of cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies. Mike told me to hold on a minute saying he had something for me. For me. He went to the back and came back with a limited edition, signed, Wonder Woman comic book. The Title of the Comic is “Beginning a BOLD NEW ERA! Wonder Woman.” Hand written on the cover beside the writer's, John Byrne’s, signature it says ‘WW in ’12 !! (She was not born here but…..) I started to cry…………. Mike knew I collected Wonder Woman memorabilia because I once bought some superhero stamps from him, but he did not know the extent of it. Mike, this person I only know from visits to the post office, gave me what will go down in history as one of the best gifts ever. Ever.

Six years ago I left Goldman Sachs. Six years ago I had an idea for a screenplay, a Wonder Woman screenplay, where WW comes to this world to help a woman become President of the United States. The candidate had been derailed. Why? Because there were doubts whether she was born in the United States which you have to be to become President. WW came to help her get back on track. There is much, much, much more to this story but I will save that for another time.....

So why did I cry? Not only because it was an incredibly thoughtful gift but because NOW, at his moment, at this second, I believe we are on the verge of something big… something bold…. something new. In my heart I believe that 2009 will go down in history as a year when WOMEN move to claim their space and stake their claim. A year when woman rise up and join with good men to mend this world. This will be the year of Wonder Women and I hope Wonder Men! More then that .. we can all be SUPERHEROs! SUPER SHE ROS ! We all can be the force that saves the world if we use our time, our treasure, our talent thoughtfully and passionately.

So thank you Mike. Thank you staff of the New Canaan Post Office. Thank you for this message from God, from the Universe, that I am suppose to keep on doing what I feel like I NEED to do.

I am heading off to do our Christmas shopping at Stew Leonard’s before the lines get CRAZY. Have a great Christmas Eve.

For more on Superheros and WONDER WOMAN (note the tshirt)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Wants, Needs, and A Great GIFT Idea

My husband keeps asking me what I would like for Christmas this year and I keep telling him I do not NEED anything. Needs. Wants. Needs. Wants. Do you keep asking yourself this question? “Do I need this or do I want it?” I do. Not only am I feeling an overwhelming sense of having enough, well too much, but my credit card bills are way down to boot!

So here is an idea for on how to celebrate Christmas. Give yourself a gift and ask your family members to do the same. Sit down, whip out some paper, and write the names of NEW friends you made this year and write why they now seem so important in your life. Write down their names, write down what makes them so special, then keep a copy for yourself and send the original to that person. Break out the crayolas and stickers and fill it with images that speak to who that person is. If by chance no ‘new’ person comes to mind, then do it for the person that has made this year such a special one for you. Is it something they taught you? Some way they inspired you? Or maybe they were just there in a moment you really needed them to be. Do it!

It is not a coincidence that this book arrived in my mailbox yesterday – “One Can Make A Difference: How Simple Actions Can Change the World.,”( Thank YOU L.D.) I is a “collection of wisdom, stories, and insight of fifty activists and world-changers who have proven that one person a movement can make.” I know what I will be reading this holiday season. This I NEED!!!!

I am going to work on a year end newsletter that shares lessons learned this year, resources that matter, ideas that matter, so if you have not signed up yet - do - and ask others to as well.

Bless you all and may your spirits leap in to a joyful place this holiday season.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Fed, Confidence, Trust and More.....

The FED cut rates to basically zero this week in a bold move with bold language that basically says we are going to do EVERYTHING we can to get money flowing through the system again. EVERYTHING. The big worry remains deflation as it should be. I have written on this topic at length before but the short of it is deflation is bad because if people think prices are going down, they do not buy today. It also increases ones debt burden because the nominal value does not go down while the value of the underlying assets do.

By cutting rates so dramatically in the short end, and forcing rates down on the long end through bond purchases, they are hoping to stimulate the economy by making it cheaper for people to buy stuff – especially homes. They are also forcing people, like me, who have a lot in treasuries at the moment to get worried. Though I enjoyed being there while the poop was hitting the fan in everything else, now I am left with an asset earning, well, nothing. Treasury money market funds are not going to be yielding enough to cover fees. They are trying to FORCE us to invest in higher yielding assets.

Are they right to do this? I am going to bring you back to the very first piece I wrote this year on January 18th. On that day I wrote a story called “The Confidence Man” - here is a piece of the last paragraph.

“Now is the time for innovative thinking that aligns short-term fixes with long-term ethical direction. The promise that quick-fix maneuvers aimed at stimulating more spending will rescue the economy is yet another example of the current administration's wishful and delusional thinking. "

These policies will only work IF IF IF people have the CONFIDENCE to start spending and investing again. One should only have confidence if there is TRUST. But come on, with stories like MADOFF breaking every week, how can we? The powers that be tell us to spend and invest but every time we do we are side-swiped with some disaster that they clearly had no idea was coming. This recovery will take a while as trust is not something that should come back overnight.
So yes they are right to boldly cut rates to encourage borrowing and lending BUT they must also fully acknowledge just how much the system has FAILED and is BROKEN. They must boldly say they will hold these slime dogs accountable to the full extent of the law and work to create the right regulatory framework to stop this from happening again. They need to work to build trust.
For now YOU, as an investor, have to get involved. YOU have to know who is managing your money and demand transparency and disclosure. YOU must ask questions and say NO to investments that you do not understand. I have made my fair share of investment mistakes but this much I now know – try to invest with people you know, you trust, where you have transparency and can where you can do your own due diligence. If possible stick to simple products with established providers. It is back to basics times in more ways than one.

The end result of this will be SERIOUS change in the wealth management business. SERIOUS. I have so many ideas on how this should happen I feel like my head is going to pop off.
If you are a regular reader you know I am all about REVOLUTIONS at the moment and an INVESTOR REVOLUTION is one of the many I am a part of.

A NYT piece on the FED cuts and more.

Friday, December 19, 2008

BROKEN, HOPE, YES WE CAN

Broken. We live in a broken world. 2008 will go down in history for me as the year I both fully acknowledged it and I fully embraced the fact that I can be, will be, part of the fix it team. Oct 28th, 2008, will be THE DAY that I started wearing my Wonder Woman suit - all the time - not just on Halloween.

Tuesday I delivered another speech. One week following claiming my space as a revolutionist in front of a group of 200 women at an 85 Broads event, I shared MY Generosity Plan with a group of 50 here in New Canaan. What is a Generosity Plan? According to Kathy LeMay, my giving coach and good friend, it is how you are using YOUr time, YOUr treasure, YOUr talent to make a difference in the world. YOU. It is about creating a personal plan around how YOU are going to make a difference. We all can. We so can. We have to, have to, believe this and help our children believe this as well. They need to witness this in the lives of their parents and others around them. As my great friend Kathy said to me at our first meeting together – “See the change you want in the world and work to be that change.”

Let this be the gift you give to the world this Christmas Season. First, spend some time with yourself. Ask yourself this question then ask others to ask themselves - “if I had a magic wand and could change anything in the world what I change?” End poverty? Create access to clean water? End violence? Stop kids from dying from curable diseases? There is no one right answer there is only your answer. The world is so broken. Fix it. Figure out how YOU are going to use YOUr time, YOUr treasure, YOUr talent to make a difference. YOU.

Last night my husband preached on this very topic. He was a partner at Goldman Sachs as well and left to go to Yale Divinity school and is now a Pastor. He preached on how the world is both broken and has always been broken. In fact at the time of Jesus's birth - the world was a complete mess. In Israel taxes were around 40% ( to pay for King Herod's massive infrastructure building projects), the Romans ruled, and their was a lot of civil unrest. Yet what was God's solution? Did he wave a magic wand and make everything ok? NO... he gave the world a person. He gave the world a perfect person to inspire us. To teach us. To guide us to live a life of service and of possibility. To GIVE GIVE GIVE and ask not what you get in return.

If the significance of Jesus's birth is not something you can hear, believe or embrace then please just hear, believe, embrace the message of it. That YOUr life has meaning. That YOUr life has a purpose. That we all have infinite possiblity and it is giving and serving others that we will find our joy and peace.

Tell me your story. Tell me what makes your heart scream out! Tell me or tell others as it is by putting it out there that you will commit yourself to be part of the solution. Hold yourself accountable and ask others to hold you accountable. By doing so you will inspire others. Be an example.

WATCH this video to be inspired. WATCH this video if to hear the message of CHRISTmas. It is a Christian message but as my friend Deborah Siegel said when she watched it …. “I am a Jew… and I loved it!” This is a message of hope and possibility. With all of us helping we can make 2009 a landmark year, a year when countless people stood up and claimed their place to be part of the solution.

YES WE CAN!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The GIRL EFFECT

This is a must see video!! Brilliant, inspriring and true - major goosebumps!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Markets, Madoff, Money and HOPE.......

A look at market performance for last week might suggest that we had a least some good news. The S & P rose over 4% and is well off it’s lows from late November. Benchmark SPY ( index) hit a low tic of 75.45 on the close and Friday closed the day at 88.99. Not bad considering the fact that on the economic front news has been getting worse and not better. I continue to think we are in a bear market as so does my friend over at BARRONS, Alan Abelson.

I just cannot stop reading about this Madoff scandal…. How could this have possibly have happened? How do you keep a scam going that long? How is it possible so many ‘smart’ people got pulled in? It is mind blowing and I am sorry for the people who lost money and I think this has BIG implications for the (diminishing) wealth management business as a whole.

Six years ago I started to invest a significant amount of my time learning about this business. Although I would have called myself financially sophisticated, when I embarked on the journey to manage our own money I realized I had a lot to learn. And learn I did. With my partners at Circle Financial Group we have talked to hundreds of managers, advisors, lawyers, accountants you name it. My biggest take away is this: you have to be actively involved. Have to. Sad to say but it is hard to find people who care as much about you and your family as much as you do. Those people are out there, but they are hard to find. The industry is built to sell product and the more complicated it is the higher the fees. Right at this moment it is clear that the general model is BROKEN. Why do I say that? Because the bond of trust has been broken. People have lost way too much money and I am not talking just hedge funds, but everything. I am going to dedicate an upcoming newsletter to this topic so stay tuned.

A friend sent me this detailed view on what is going on in our economy right now and it is a very thoughtful read. Written by Jim Quinn it is on a site I have not visited before but I found it very useful, especially the chart that highlights how much our administration has committed so far to the various bailouts. Take a look and let me know what YOU think.

On a positive note - I have so much HOPE. Yes so much has failed and is broken but we have an opportunity to reshape the world we live in in to a better world. Let's all do more, right now, and ask others to do more as well. This weekend I spent two hours with my children serving patients at an elder care facility, most of which have severe memory loss. I left there so full, so fed. Giving, serving, helping others, living a life based on a premise of abundancy is the what can and will heal the world. Blessings...........

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My Diary - Brokenness, Hope, Prophecy, Women and More


Yesterday was another one of those days. I day so filled with great people, innovative ideas, memorable moments, inspiration, prophecy fulfilled, that I thought at the end of it, my head and heart were going to explode.

On train ride in to the city I of course, had to digest the WSJ and the FT, as it my ritual. Though the now normal stories of corporate lay-offs, retail companies imploding, and fed balance sheet usage was depressing enough, it was the Maddoff story that was scary beyond belief. How could that have happened, how?

The CONSTANT themes in this blog all year have been these – People deserve to hear the TRUTH, we need to live in a country built on TRUST and INTEGRITY, leadership has FAILED us, corporate models are in general BROKEN, we need INVEST in WOMEN now, it is all about GENEROSITY in a time of SCARCITY, each of needs to make a DIFFERENCE and we have to have HOPE. This story was about the opposite of all of that. What we need NOW, are stories of HOPE.

HOPE. I hopped off the train, ran uptown where I had a two hour meeting with a senior exec of a major retailer and the ladies from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation on how we could partner. How to do something so cool, and fun, that when people walk in to their stores to buy something they NEED not just WANT we can offer them a way to CONNECT with a CAUSE in the process.

HOPE. I then went to a meeting with a book publisher to talk about my story and the stories of women I know that need to be told. We spent most of the time however talking about why women generally do not buy non-fiction books written by women about women, why male authors dominate the non-fiction list, why MONEY is such an important topic right now, and what is the book the world NEEDS right NOW.

HOPE. I have been overwhelmed of late by the generosity of some people. A few weeks ago I met this amazing woman who is all about FINANCIAL LITERACY. Stacey Tisdale. She wrote a book about it called “The Real Story Behind Managing Your Money.” (buy it) Needless to say we were best friends within about 1 minute. A few days later she connects me to this woman, Loreen Arbus, who I had met briefly as she, like me, is a member of Golden Seeds, but I now would be HONORED to call a friend. Out of a place of purse generosity she invited 24 of the most amazing women on the planet ( and me ) to come to lunch and share their WISDOM on problems the world is now facing. She asked provocative questions and requested we share SOLUTIONS that through our network we could deliver to the people in power. WOW. Not surprisingly I knew a number of the women there: Helen LaKelly Hunt, one of the visionaries behind Women Moving Millions, Julie Gilbert, Senior Vice-President at Best Buy and the creator of their award winning WOLF Program that is absolutely and completely proving the model of grass roots women’s leadership in corporate America, Janet Hanson, founder of 85 Broads, Carol Jenkins, President of the Women’s Media Center… and I just have to say it – Barbara Walters!!!!!!! Also there was a women who my dear friend in Vancouver has been trying to connect me with for two years!! This was not a lunch where we were all just hanging out and admiring each other, no, thanks to Loreen we were WORKING!!!! There was so much passion in that room if you lit a match it the roof would have been blown off the place. This is what needs to happen. Women, good men, need to gather, have an agenda, ask questions, collect solutions and BOTH send them off to the decision makers and do them yourself. This is how change happens. Loreen, you ROCK!

HOPE. I dashed out to run across town for a small group brainstorming session with a handful of brilliant people on creating a NEW company. We see the power of this moment. So much has been destroyed and we want to be part of the clean-up crew.

HOPE. I could not find a cab and I was going to miss the train home which would mean no dinner out with the kids on Friday night which generally speaking, was our tradition. The meeting had been on WEST 42nd Street and I had to get to Grand Central fast. No cabs. I saw one up ahead dropping people off and I ran to get it. I thought I guy was just getting out when in fact he was loading his suitcases in. In panted breath I told him my story and asked, if he was going that way, could I share the cab? He said he was actually headed downtown, but in an adorable British accent he said, “no worries, I will drop you off.” With no time to waste I hopped in the cab, thanked him profusely and offered to pay the whole fare. We had a few minutes to share our stories and he said he was a musician and was heading to downtown to see a friend before he took off for Tokyo for a gig. Of course I had to share my foray as an owner of a recording studio which led to an in depth, two minute, conversation about how the music industry is BROKEN. As we arrived in grand central he reached in to his bag, gave me a copy of his CD, and would not take a dime for the ride. Instead he said – “You can just do something nice for someone else today.” I responded “Pay it FORWARD.” He had not seen the movie so I explained it and jumped out of the cab to catch the train with not a minute to space.

HOPE – On the train home I had the chance to read the NEW issue of World Pulse Magazine. You HAVE TO HAVE TO HAVE TO get involved, read these articles, forward them to your friends, and SUPPORT this organization. I know the founder, Jensine Larson, very well as I have been a supporter of PULSE WIRE for some time. I was an angel investor! Jensine, congrats, you nailed it! This is the best issue of a magazine I have EVER, EVER read..... The magazine’s tag line – “Global Issues Through the Eyes of Women.” This is the MOMENT for this PRODUCT!!!!!!!!! All you Media people who are reading this, if you want a meeting with Jensine, email me.....

The magazine is filled with amazing articles and two are about women I adore. Julie Gilbert ( yes she was at the lunch) in “Running with Wolves” is featured in a brave story about how she SURIVED to build what she built at Best Buy. Kathy LeMay, my philanthropy coach wrote a piece called “Revolutionary Philanthropy”, a story about her claiming her space as a philanthropist. Although there are many more brilliant articles I have to mention just one more. The article is called the “Power of Prophecy” and is about 13 ancient indigenous grandmothers who gather to fulfill an ancient prophecy for the world.

“Collectively, they knew the Grandmothers from the Spirit World were calling them to action. They knew that now they must reveal their most secret and sacred ways to the very people who have been their oppressors. They also shared the belief that the world is being prepared for the spirit of the feminine and this energy must awaken in men and women as well. According to Grandmother Flordemayo of Central America, “Prophecy stares that is will be the women who walk with the power.””

If you KNOW me, if you have read this blog all year and in particular the 10 OPEDS that I have written for the HUFFINGTON POST this year ( to the right), if you were present at my coming out keynote speech this past Tuesday for 85 Broads, you KNOW how much I believe this to be true. I am part of this prophecy. We as women, and good men, can ALL be part of this prophecy.

Ok….. major goose bumps. Enough said. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Money Manager Madoff loses $50 BILLION!!!!!!

"Madoff, 70, the founder of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, maintained a separate and secretive investment-advising business that served between 11 and 25 clients and had a total of about $17.1 billion in assets under management, prosecutors said.
They said he told employees Wednesday that it had been insolvent for years, losing at least $50 billion. Madoff told employees he was "finished," that he had "absolutely nothing," that "it's all just one big lie" and it was "basically, a giant Ponzi scheme," according to a criminal complaint in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. " read it.

Jim Kramers take. More here.

Yesterday I wrote about how much brokenness there is the world.. and now this!!!! I am truly sick to my stomach. The reason that the credit markets are frozen are because no one trusts eachother... now this!!!!!! The whole financial world is broken, BROKEN, BROKEN!!!!!!! Who can you trust? Who is telling the truth? Who is marking thier books correctly? It goes on and on and on..... I have been in finance for 20 years and I truly remember when I integrity was all that mattered. Those days are gone..... What will it take to bring it back? Read yesterdays post.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Brokenness, Hope and Women!!! A New Huffpo Piece!

As you can tell I have been a busy girl the past 24 hours! I came down off the high of my speech yesterday and wrote this piece!!!! Of course I am excited about it and could it be the best one yet? You decide.

It is about Investing in Women - this is a message I am going to get out there again and again and again. Hey, I should get that phrase on T-shirts!!! And YES - I will post the website I bought my Wonder Woman T - but they may be sold out, by last order was for 30 of them!!!

The Lastest Huffington Post - CLICK HERE - INVEST IN WOMEN!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Are YOU Ready for a Revol- YOU - tion?

Today I had the complete honor to be keynote speaker for the monthly 85 Broads Women’s Power Breakfast in New York City. Thank you Janet Hanson for giving me such an incredible opportunity. Over 200 women, and two good men, (or should I say smart men) paid hard earned dollars to be there and I hope you found it, me, a good investment! Please leave a comment here if you are so inclined!


The speech was called “Are YOU ready for a revol – YOU – tion?”It was a call to action! I asked everyone in the room to take their commitment to make this world a more just and equitable place to the next level. I asked everyone in the room to hold tight to a core belief that the world would in fact be a better place if women and girls had both access and opportunity to places and spaces where they currently do not. I asked everyone in the room to claim THIS MOMENT as THE MOMENT to renew and enlarge their commitment to invest in women.

Invest in women. INVEST in women. INVEST IN WOMEN.

The podcast will be soon available as will be speech in hard copy. Stay tuned. I invite you to sign up for upcoming newsletters by adding your name to my subscriber list. AND if you are not already a member of 85 Broads, join now!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Job Losses, Bill Gross, Boggle, and Bond Basics

Despite a jobs report the worst since 1974, the equity market managed to fight well in to positive territory for the day on Friday, and based on the overseas markets it is looking to be a good day. The US economy was reported to have lost 533,000 jobs in the month of November, and shedded 1.3 million jobs since September, leaving the unemployment rate up to 6.7%. Alan Abelson notes that the report would have been a lot worse “had not over 400,000 left the force because they likely couldn’t find work.” Sadly this weekend’s TV news seem filled with stories, with real people, that have either lost of their job or are giving up hope about finding one. This is going to continue. I do not want to imagine what is going to happen to the retail sector come January... stimulus package or no stimulus package. America, Americans who simply cannot afford it, just have to stop buying stuff we do not need and that is going to be a painful adjustment process. The addiction to credit has to stop. It has stopped. Let the recovery process begin.

Earlier the year I wrote an OPED about our addiction to credit. Read it here.

It is still going to get worse before it gets better for the economy and 2009 will definitely prove to be one of change, transition, and I hope, HOPE.

Bill Gross' DEC commentary is a must read. A new investment paradigm has arrived. Too many people I believe are not letting recent history reframe their thinking, and that is going to get one in big investment do do. I am not saying I have all the answers, I do not, but I do know that how I think about where to invest has been completely shaken up. It is like the game of BOGGLE. You shake up all the letters, then let them settle in to their spaces, and try to make as many words as you can from connecting letters as fast as you can. The problem right now, as the letters just keep on getting shaken up. But hey, that is the world of investing.

I also found this GREAT SECTION ont he Pimco site that explains all about bonds! I am adding this to my investing 101 section. Bookmark it.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire - Must See !

This is, in my opinion, the first must see movie of the year! It was date night last night and it was my husband Greg's turn, and wow did he pick a good one.

"Directed by Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire" is based on a book "Q and A" by Indian writer Vikas Swarup. It traces the journey of a poor young man from the slums of Mumbai, who ends up winning one crore rupees in game show "Kaun Banega Karorpati", the Indian version of American TV show "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire." "

Why did I love it? Because it is about destiny. Because it is about every life, even the most unlikely one, having a purpose. Because it is about seemingly disconnected, somtimes horrible events, giving you a gift that will only reveal itself much later. Because it is about a moment when everything in your past has it's place in your history that brings you to a place of opportunity and perfectness. Because it is about love, about family, about loyalty, about trust, abour good winning over evil. This is a must see movie.......... leave your reviews here afterward!!!!!

To watch the trailer. More, but plot spoiler, IMDB.
Yes it is 4 am and I am going to work on my 85 Broads speech for Tuesday - the event is sold out, over 150 people, and I am psyched! The title, " Are YOU ready for a revolution?" You know my answer, what is yours?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Global Imbalances, Stag-delfation, FDIC debt, the BUBBLE, and Tax Planning

For today's post I just have to link to a handful of good articles in the FT, but first, a few words about private equity. It is a big mess!!!!! I believe many of the funds, especially the ones doing the mega cap deals, are basically toast. They did deals that on a marked to market basis are worth nothing, yet I am sure they are marked a lot higher. Basic assumptions about how private equity works are out the window. There is going to be huge failures in terms of capital calls, big liquidty problems, and litigation up the ying yang. A mess....

A few must read articles from the FT
- On Global Imbalances and trade.
- On the rush to issue debt guaranteed by the FDIC. ( remember a few days ago when I said GS was the first and there would be much to follow)
- On GURU Nouriel Roubini's latest thinking - not good.
- On Sliding bond yields spur bubble talk.

And one from yesterdays WALL STREET JOURNAL - on year end tax planning. The only good news in a bad market - tax lost harvesting!

And one I just happened upon about Goldman and what has changed.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Obama Team!

I could not have said it better myself.... pulled from the White House Project Newsletter!

"As President-elect Obama announced key members of his national security and foreign policy team today yesterday, accompanying his words was a stunning visual: Of the six appointees joining Obama on stage, three were women. All of us at The White House Project were thrilled to finally see, as Al Kamen called it in his Washington Post Column, "a national security team that looks like the nation."

The White House Project congratulates these women--Senator Hillary Clinton, Obama's choice for Secretary of State, longtime White House Project advocate Governor Janet Napolitano for Secretary of Homeland Security, and Susan Rice for US Ambassador to the United Nations--on their remarkable achievement, particularly as it comes in a field overwhelmingly dominated by men.We are happy not only for this group of women as individuals, but also for what their selections signify: the public's growing acceptance of women in non traditional roles, and a long overdue shift in the understanding of what makes for a secure world. In this age of globalization and nontraditional international threats, it is increasingly apparent that the conventional approaches of military and national defense are not enough to ensure the safety of the people and the state. Women have traditionally accepted that security is all-encompassing, involving economic, diplomatic and social solutions, and although a recent Pew Study shows that foreign policy is one of only two issues that the public still feels are better held by males, the same study reveals that Americans put much greater stock in women leaders when it comes to working out compromises, employing honesty and creativity, representing the public's interest, and standing up for what they believe. These skills, essential for effective policy making and relationship building, need only be coupled with the right tools to ensure that women can be more effective participants in the security dialogue. Long advocating the inclusion of women's voices in this conversation, The White House Project is more committed than ever to train women to more ably and expertly lead on issues of national security. With your help, we can continue to fill the leadership pipeline with more knowledgeable women who will add new and important perspectives to the conversation about security."
Support the White House Project ! To Marie Wilson, their fearless leader, thanks for all the work you do!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Markets and Deflation

Last week proved to be en encouraging for the global equity markets, but today’s performance took back a good percentage of those gains. I see the news only getting worse and not better. Our economy is in deep do do. Yes some stocks are cheap, but overall I think buying credit is still a lot cheaper. The challenge is figuring out how to do it.

There has been much news about the cumulative size ($6.3 trillion ??) of all the government and treasury programs that have been implemented to help stabilize the market. As I have written about before I am very concerned about what this ultimately means for both the US dollar and US interest rates, but for now it seems they have little choice. As many people smarter than I have pointed out, severe deflation is NOT an option. For a good piece explaining why check out this OPED by Clive Crook in today’s FT. They are injecting massive amounts of liquidity in to the system hoping to keep inflationary expectations alive.

Of note from last week is that Goldman was able to raise $5 billion at an effective rate of 3.36%. A great deal considering their non-guaranteed paper was trading at close to a 9% yield. No wonder their stock rallied. Not surprising that they were the first to do this. Talk about a great deal. Under this "temporary liquidity guarantee program" expect up to $300 billion in issuance. Will some one please explain to me why all the debt that government is now guaranteeing is not trading at somewhat close to the same yield? Is there some pecking order that I am not aware of. Either the gov't makes good on all of it, or none of it, right? Treasuries, agencies, home loan bank paper, and all the other stuff they have back stopped should be viewed to have similar credit risk??? Even mortages, absent the optionality, should be trading on top of treasuries. I don't get it.......

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks!

Almost a month ago, beginning this day, I felt the world change for me. That day was the day that I felt called in to action, big time. I sleep less, think more and with such greater clarity. I feel so much more engaged with my family, my community, and the world in general. So much knowledge that I had absorbed over my life seems to have become profoundly relevant and I just want to write it all down and share.

So this Thanksgiving in addition to being thankful for all the things I am usually thankful for – my family, our health, our friendships, our home – I am also thankful to all of you who by visiting my blog, receiving my newsletter, posting a comment. sending me an email ....... are in some way connected to my passion to change the world for the better. I give thanks for your words that you have shared that say how committed you are to social change. It is in us all caring, just a little more, that the world will become a better place.

So this Thanksgiving I would like to share a poem by Rudyard Kipling that I turn to for inspiration. In countless ways this poem is of the moment, for me, and I know for many of you....I hope you enjoy it, and have a joyful Thanksgiving.

IF .............................................

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Citgroup Bail-Out, Fiscal Stimulus, the Latest Fed Program

I was pleasantly surprised by the positive market move on Monday in response to the Citi bail-out plan, which to me is a more than a little scary. I agree with some of the commentaries that are yelling for a coordinated and thoughtful approach rather than the Sunday night plans that commit billions and billions of taxpayer dollars. As for Obama’s announcement of a huge fiscal spending plan, yes we need one, but again this has to be extremely thoughtfully implemented. What we do not need is a plan of the likes of this past summer which was a complete waste of money. Big issues remain in the credit markets but I am confident that the FED and the Treasury are doing everything they can to improve the markets. This Program annoucement is a good one, but they are doing just SO MUCH that I am worried about the cummulative impact of it all on their balance sheet. We are in unprecendented times and they are doing unprecedented things.

Yesterday I sent out a newsletter that summarizes the factors that I believe contributed to the financial crisis, as well as some steps you can take with respect to financial preparedness. If you have not yet signed up, please do, good stuff to come!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Brief Letter to the New Treasury Secretary and Be A Superhero!

The National Council For Research on Women invited me to submit piece in the form of a brief letter to the new Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Please find it here. Also Read Sara Gould's submission and a related article. As I said yesterday I am very excited about the choice as I hear he is a very smart guy and a great listener. He has big challenges ahead of him as these two articles in the papers yesterday point out. Here and here.

I have been thinking a lot about leadership these days, and the failure there of. Eight years ago I left my position running the fixed-rate mortgage trading desk at Goldman and moved to the executive office to help "manage the careers af the firms managing directors." ( internal memo ) In that capacity I spent a lot of my time on leadership development, and served on the task force from which Pine Street, the firm's leadership development effort, emerged. We met with countless leadership gurus and I collected stacks of books and articles on leadership but one of my all time favorites was a piece written by Tom Peters in March 2001 called "Rule # 3 - Leadership is Consfusing as Hell." From the intro..."For the next five years, it's business on a wartime footing...." doesn't that feel like now? This is a must read piece. He goes on to put forward 50 leadership principles, with the 49th one inviting readers to submit their own.... here was mine.

"Be a Superhero. Remember what it was like to jump out of bed on those Saturday Mornings so you could rush to turn on the TV to get another dose of Superman, Batman, or in my case Wonderwoman! These characters inspired you to change the world, to do the right thing, to fight evil wherever it reared its ugly head. To be an example, and yet hide your true identity because it was not about personal glory. They never asked "what is in it for me"and they tried not to let the bad stuff get them down. They had a job to do and damn it they approached it with absolute enthusiasn and discipline. Be a superhero!"

We need a lot of Superheros right now and I hope Mr. Geithner proves to be one of them!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Citi Gets a Bailout Package, New Appointments, and the Credit Crisis Continues



It was one of those weekends, again. We wake this am to news that CITI is subject to a massive bailout package. Of course we knew this was coming, but the details were unsure. The good news, they got help, the bad news, they needed it. They are taking just over of $300 billion of assets and separating them out. It seems no change in management will occur.

“And so we need to understand the significance of that guarantee. The significance is as follows: Once Citi owns $312 billion in assets on which they can only lose $42 billion the remaining pool must be worth $270 billion. That $270 billion is guaranteed by the US Government – as the FDIC is a full faith and credit organisation. Citigroup can put that $270 billion (plus the $42 billion in non-guaranteed assets) in a pool and repo it – and as Treasuries yield very little they will wind up paying well under a percent of interest. The Sheila Bair decision was equivalent to a cash injection into Citigroup of 270 billion because the repo-market will turn government guaranteed loans into cash.” (full piece) Holy smokes. Holy, holy, smokes. More on the FED's quantative easing here. Key quote, "Now we are back to using money in a brute force fashion, but with no benchmarks. Lovely."


A lot of news also came out of Washington Friday and through the weekend - Obama will appoint New York Fed President Timothy Geithner for Treasury Secretary's post. Hilliary Clinton wil be appointed as the Secretary of State. Larry Summers will be chosen as the Director of National Economic Council. Bill Richardson might be chosen as the Commerce Secretary. President's Economic Team will be named on Nov 24. I am happy about Geithner but I have concerns over Larry Summers. Yes over his comments about women’s innate abilities to succeed but also because I hear from lots of people that know him that his ego is MASSIVE. Do you really need smart GUYS who think they are right all the time advising us on what to do right now? Is that now what got us in to trouble in the first place? The leadership that is going to lead us out of this mess is decisive yet INCLUSIVE leadership. Leadership that invites alternate views to the table yet is able to quickly and thoughtfully drive to consensus. I think that is more Geithner then Summers but I am told there is no doubt that Summers will be in the driver’s seat. I am also told he is a true Keynesian so the fiscal stimulus is coming.

Oh my gosh I could write forever - I am trying to get my next newsletter off so this will just have to be enough for this early morning.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fire...


Tonight, I am very sad to say, our neighbors house burned down. Gone. Thankfully no one was hurt and the fire was contained but it was huge. My heart goes out to this wonderful family. As we stood there, with our children, watching, you realize that it can all be gone in a second. Though stuff is just stuff, a house is a home and full of memories from which a life is built. May we all take a moment to say thanks for all we have and move on to make sure we all have emergency plans in place.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Diversity Program Challenges, Saving the World, and DEFLATION


Yesterday was another one of those days. It was a day so fascinating, so filled with interesting people and ideas, I felt like my head was going to explode. Here are the bullet points from each of three meetings:
- In the morning I spent some time speaking with some passionate women leaders of a major institution talking to them about their challenges and opportunities with respect to lay off, hiring, managing and promoting their women employees. I have A LOT to say about corporate diversity programs and why generally speaking, they have failed to move the bar. Here is the problem at this moment: a disproportionate number of women are going to be fired in these downsizings. Should there be heroic measures to save them for the sake of the numbers? If so, under what conditions. In the time of bail-outs - do they implement their own human capital management ‘rescue programs'? Subject of a longer piece.
- Next I had a lunch with John McArthur, the policy director at the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Co-Director of the Millennium Villages Project, collaboration between the Earth Institute, Millennium Promise, and the UN Development Program to promote community-level achievement of the Millennium Development goals across Africa. I have written on them before and I was interested in learning more, in particular and in particular learn more about MD Goal 4 – Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women. My “Why Invest in Women” OPED is in the works so stay tuned. We had an explosive conversation that was filled with hope. Why? People everywhere, but in particular young people, are embracing change and want to use their talents to make the world a better place by addressing social challenges, like climate change. They see it as their job, not someone else’s, and we are going to see exciting new businesses emerge. My friend Alan Webber is all over this idea… you go Alan!! I am hooking them up.
- Lastly, I had the incredible opportunity to spend 1 ½ hours with David Rosenberg of ML. David has been predicting a recession that is both bad and different, for some time. Today his conversation focused on his latest publication “The Frugal Future.” If you can figure out a way to get a copy of it through someone at ML, do. Warning, do not have any sharp objects close by when you read it. This 90 page wallet size flip book is filled with charts and graphs and one liners that are both true, and frightening. His conclusions? Deflation. Deflation. Deflation. He figures we are at about the 3rd or 4th inning of this deleveraging process and there is going to be much pain before this process is over. We were quick to ask him where he thought the bottom of the S & P might be. Though he suggested we might call a proctologist who actually is an expert on bottoms, if we forced him to put on the rubber gloves, he thought 650 was the new level where we might hang out for a while. I could go on and on and on about this but just get your hands on what you can by this author and come to your own conclusions. I would also suggest reading this piece coming out of PIMCO. What do you do in a deflationary environment? I am neither an investment advisor nor do I give investment advice but here is what I have read about doing so far. Hunker down. Spend less, pay down debt, sell what you can sell if prices are at ‘old world’ prices are close to it, be very selective about equities and consider buying government longer term bonds. He also likes Gold. I continue to be VERY worried longer term about the US dollar and once I have that all figured out, I will get back to you. For a go deeper, must read, on the topic of deflation - read this speech by our current FED Reserve Chair. More from yours truly on deleveraging - click here.

Thanks for reading! If you have not signed up already for the NEWSLETTER, do on the right. Signing up will NOT send you my blog entries but there will be good stuff coming to your inbox.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Trouble With America is.....

Yet again I felt compelled to write this piece. Thanks to HuffingtonPost for getting it out in the world. The theme, that we can all do something to make a difference is so important right now. People, working individually and collectively, to create a more just and equitable world is truly the force that will get this country back on track.

At the bottom of the article I make reference to a video featuring ROB BELL that is part of the NOOMA series. We have most of the videos and I cannot recommend them enough. We watch them with our children, with friends, with anyone who is willing to have their world view challenged and perhaps.... shifted. My personal favorites are RICH and LUMP. They are going to be my gift of choice this holiday season. ( along with Wonder Woman T-shirts)
The one line of his that keeps going through my mind is - It is dangerous thing "when you begin to think that our world, is the world."

The Problems With Iceland


In my view the news in the financial and economic world continues to get worse, not better. I guess the markets agreed as last week equities in general were down with the benchmark S & P off 4%. I very much doubt we have seen the market lows. Why? The main reason is that the consumer is under massive retrenchment and with that comes the profitability of most of corporate America. The downward cycle is taking hold. People are spending less, so companies need to cut back, increasing unemployment, leads to more cut backs ….. and so on. I really wish I could tell you that this all ends nicely but right now I just don’t see it.

Things could be worse… you could live in Iceland. Please take a moment to read this chilling account of what happens to a country that spiraled out of control.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

One of My Biggest Worries - Too Much Debt!!!! Plus GM and Ford

For a while know I have been asking people this question. How is the US going to fund our deficit? Who is going to buy all the debt we are going to need to issue? This question was addressed in a thoughtful piece in the FT yesterday called “Bonds caught between supply surge and deflation.” On the one hand US bonds look attractive because it is likely in the short term that inflation rates will be low. With inflation low, real rates, the difference between what you earn on a bond and the inflation rate is high. But on the other side is the massive supply issue. The FT suggested that the US will have to issue somewhere between $1.4 and $1.7 trillion of new debt. That is US treasury supply. They you have all the other kinds of debt – agency, munis, investment grade corporate, high yield, asset-backed – domestically and foreign, rollover debt and new debt. In this deleveraging world where capital has evaporated, this presents a huge problem.

Who is going to buy all this debt? Who? The answer that most people give is sovereign wealth funds and foreign central banks, but I ask the question why on earth would they want to buy debt yielding 4% when they have so many other choices of what to do with that money? And even if they are willing, they do not have enough money to do it.

This is going to be a problem. I know it in my bones. The end result will be much higher US rates which is going to cause even more pain. We are in between a rock and a hard place in this country. Torn between needing to spend to keep the economy going, and fear of spending because of the amount of debt we are creating. This is exactly why a rosy economic scenario is so hard to come up with. The answer will have to be we print money. Print it. Longer term that will mean a falling US dollar and inflation. There is as I see if no other way out.

A note on GM and Ford. This is a big problem that I have addressed previously but we are coming to a tipping point. They are running out of cash! Fully expect to wake up one morning soon and hear something BIG. By reading the paper I get the feeling that 'bailing them out' is less and less likely because it is WAY expensive and many feel irresponsible without a strategic plan to solve the problems plaguing the industry.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Leadership In Difficult Times – A Women’s Perspective


How I spent my whole day yesterday was truly my idea of a good time! I spent it in a room with approximately 300 successful businesswoman, listening to some of our countries top women leaders ( and a few men too) talk about what is going on in the world, how they are managing it, and what is coming next! The speakers included Brenda Barnes (CEO of Sara Lee - pictured here), Cathie Black ( President of Hearst Magazines), Andrea Jung (CEO of Avon), and Cokie Roberts. ( Political Analyst for ABC News and NPR). The day was hosted by Morgan Stanley and I would like to say THANK YOU for this important conversation and for making Women’s Leadership Visible!!!!

What were some of my main take-a ways? (It is hard to be brief given I have 30 pages of notes..but…)
- Women are there managing and leading in many organizations but there are few places where there is critical mass. We need to collectively figure out where, in what industries, we can get there and move in to those spaces to really see what female leadership looks and feels like.
- Who is CEO matters greatly. The direction of the company and the culture is heavily influenced by who is running the show. The values and priorities of that leader trickle down and seep in to every crack of an organization.
- Leadership in the times of crisis is about knowing where you are going, staying calm and focused, and relentlessly communicating!
- As a worker bee think about being essential to your organization. Be a problem solver and keep a great attitude.
- The general economic conditions for business are bad , everywhere. These CEOs are focusing on cutting costs and serving their customers well.
- We talked about many of the big problems out there: the failing auto sector, our growing budget deficits, the lack of availability of credit, rising unemployment, how to stop the slide of housing prices…… and so on. There are big problems that are not going to go away any time soon. The solutions are there but they are going to involve some tough choices and pain.
- Many speakers mentioned how much excitement there is around Senator Obama’s victory globally. They see it as very good for the US longer term.
- There was clearly a bunker down mentality in the room but there was also optimism and hope.

When people asked me what I did for a living I gave many of them this answer – I am helping to lead a women’s leadership revolution. As a woman leader I am worried about the state of the world and I believe that it is in the power of women working together that solutions lie.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"Taking Science Personally" - The MJF Foundation

I have to give a total 'shout-out' to the New York Times for yesterdays Giving Section! Love it. In particular I have to call your attention to the piece on the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinsons Research. My good friend Debbie Brooks is a co-founder of this organization and I recently invited her to speak at Circle Financial Group on this very topic! (Medical Research Philanthropy) I invite you to read the piece and celebrate the hope that they are offering to victims of this horrible disease. Give now.

By the way - I am starting a list of outstanding women in philanthropy and social change - and Debbie, your name is on it. You are a leader in this space and we thank you for the work you do.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

GM: Running Out of Money and Running Out of Time the Government (will) Come(s) to the Rescue


Perhaps this, sadly, will be a major business theme for 2009.

Take GM. Friday they reported an loss of $4.2 billion and their stock is now trading at an all time low. It seems likely that a government bailout will occur, but in what form? I agree with Paul Ingrasssia in “Detroit Auto Makers Need More Than a Bailout” that there is a MAJOR problem with the business model that preceded this economic crisis. For years the major automakers have been in trouble but we avoided making tough decisions that perhaps could have given that industry a hope of a less painful turn around. Bottom line is their costs are too high and they make a lot of cars/trucks/SUVs/Hummers that Americans should not be driving. As I commented back in August when they reported a $15 bb loss, this was going to end badly.(for my piece on this back in August click here)

I went to France this summer and we tried to rent an SUV and we barely could find one. They do not exist over there. We got the biggest vehicle we could find and barely fit our suit-cases and two children in the car. Though we were shocked to be paying more than 4 euros for gas, we also did not need to fill up very often. I remember commenting to my husband that ‘this is what a fuel efficient vehicle feels like.” The government was smart. They taxed the heck out of gas which changed behavior. High gas prices this year threatened to do that here but those days are gone and the dream of purchasing a fuel efficient vehicle are fading as fast as our stock portfolios.
So what do we do now? As the author suggests ‘we’ (the taxpayers) have to come to the rescue. I agree that shareholder equity should be wiped out, contracts have to be renegotiated, unions are going to HAVE TO accept less and their needs to be new management brought in that has the vision and the political support to make it happen. But YIKES. This is not going to be easy. GM, FORD… are going to chew through so much taxpayer cash that it literally makes me want to throw-up. Yet again here is an example of “too big to fail.” First it was Fannie and Freddie, then AIG, then the Investment Banks, Banks in general, Money Market Funds, Muni Markets, Commerical Paper Market... now the auto industry. Next?

I cannot write an entry like this to say, yet again, failure of leadership!!!! Both the people who run these companies ( these White American Males - sorry dudes but you are) and the government are too blame. A solution that would have worked years ago would have been to see how the world was changing, and plan for it. ( much higher taxes on the sale of big cars, higher gas taxes to subsidize the business model transition) We should have taken the pain in the short term, to have had a hope of success in the long run. Yes Senator Obama the auto industry is the backbone of America, and the back is broken. Any doctor will tell you that the back is a tough thing to fix. America. Americans. We are going to be paying the price of this brokenness for a long time to come.

Monday, November 10, 2008

"How Far Will Deleraging Go?"

There was a very important piece (yet again as an OPED) in the WSJ that must be read to continue to build an understanding of the financial crisis and what lies ahead. Financial leverage, the borrowing of funds to supplement and magnify investment dollars, contributed greatly to the asset bubble in housing and real estate in general. When asset prices peaked, and started to turn downward, the opposite process began. Money was put in to the system and money now is being taken out. The effect of course is a destruction of capital or equity which lead to the financial crisis/credit crisis. With diminished capital banks cannot lend, unless of course they increase their leverage. So how much capital do they have now? What leverage are they operating under? It is enough to start lending again? These are the questions this article answers and sorry to say - not likely. Though it is possible through changing the rules (namely mark-to-market accounting) to help, the deleveraging process has not yet run it's course. Mr. Roche is estimating another $900 billion in credit related losses which is consisitent with a lot of other estimates I have heard. That capital needs to be provided by someone? The TARP fund just got a whole lot bigger and it is very likely we will end up with a socialized banking system. That is of course if those that have that kind of dough, namely countries that have huge reserves ( China, Japan, the Middle East) decide that owning the US Banks makes a lot more sense then owning treasuries at 1 to 4%. Somehow I don't think that is what Warren Buffet had in mind when he said "Buy American, I am."


I just came across this great piece profiling some of the top women in Business - take a look. (Thanks again to the WSJ - you are making women leaders visible!)

Friday, November 7, 2008

GREAT Women Speak Out !


I have died and gone to heaven. A whole bunch of my favorite women leaders are grouped together to talk about WHAT NEXT " - letters to President Elect Obama. Thank you to the National Council for Research on Women for making it happen. ( I am one proud ex board member and current advisory board member)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Kathy LeMay, a Few Must Read Opeds, and a Market Update

I want to open with a shout out to my dear friend and philanthropic advisor Kathy LeMay who offers us some great advice on giving over at Misstroplolis. Kathy serves as a source of continuous inspiration to me on how to lead a generous life. I am hoping Kathy will do a guest post and generosity newsletter for me at some point soon but for now check out her web-site.

I have to bring your attention to a three opeds that were in yesterdays Wall Street Journal.

1) “President Elect Obama” – I went WILD then I read this statement. Wild. “One promise of his victory is that perhaps we can put to rest the myth of racism as a barrier to achievement in this splendid country.” The myth of racism????? Now because we have a mixed race President not only does racism no longer exist, but it never did?????? I have to add this to the very long list of issues to write more about but I had to draw it to your attention.
2) “I Vote NO Confidence in Congress” – by Harvey Golub. I agree with a lot of what he wrote. I have big concerns that the folks in Washington are not fully comprehending the consequences of their actions.
3) We Need Sustainable Capitalism – by David Blood and Al Gore. I know David from Goldman and he is a great guy. Generation Investment Management is a great example of a capitalism at it’s best.

The Markets – We had a nice rally up until Monday and then reality set it once again. Having bounced approximately 20% from the lows we gave back about 10% over the past few days. Sadly I do not think we have found a bottom. The economic news continues to be horrible. Just horrible. Across the ocean the Bank of England cut rates in a dramatic move that can only mean one thing – major problems.

I sent out my very first newsletter today so if you are not on my mailing list you are missing out. Add your email so you do not miss the next one.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Congratulations Senator Obama! You Are Changing the Face of Leadership - Now Keep Going.

Congratulations Senator Obama. You have been chosen to be President of the United States and it is a most important point in this country’s history. You! You have the opportunity for greatness and more importantly, inspire others to greatness. Though race NOT been an issue in this election, as the first African-American President, you are the role model. You have shown this country and the world that a person that does not look like the majority in Washington, can get to the top. You made African- American leadership truly visible.

I ask you to keep it going. You promised change, now please deliver on that promise. Change the face of leadership more broadly. When you choose your cabinet and key advisors look broad and look deep. Assemble a list for each role that finds the BEST (intelligent, worldly, compassionate, passionate, connected, holistic thinker, experienced, action-oriented) people that you can, and make sure that there are women and minorities on that list. Don’t believe them when they say it ‘they don’t exist.” They exist; they just may not be immediately visible.

You have a big job ahead of you and I want you to know I am here to help. The economy is in trouble and so is the world. Like you, I have been called in to leadership. I have been called to put myself on the line to speak the truth as I see it. To tell the world that NOW is the time for Womens Leadership and to offer them solutions on how to make that happen. Now. People voted for you because they believed that you are THE ONE that could make America strong again, you captured thier hearts. Now continue to inspire everyone to be part of the solution.

May God Bless you Senator Obama, and may God Bless America!
Welcome to my Blog - Please sign up to the right for an upcoming newsletter. Thanks to all who take the time to read my blog and for your comments.

Monday, November 3, 2008

WAKE UP and VOTE! The Financial Markets Meltdown, What Next and the Matrix


I crawled out of bed at 4 am, again, because I had to write this piece which was published today on the HuffingtonPost. For the past year I have said bascially nothing on this blog around the election. What I typed this am, on the eve of the election, is what I have to say. In this piece is a list of the factors that I believe contributed to the financial meltown, and what needs to be done to correct it.

My conclusion...." This process does not end with an election; it should begin again with one. Let's put our hope in the new President but then work with him, alongside him, for positive change. For me, this means working to ensure that women and women's range of perspectives are included from top to bottom in the new Administration. In this moment, in particular, I am calling the next President to expand his view and look to women's leadership as he assembles his new team. In this country we do not know what women's leadership looks like, and it is time we did.

Let's turn to our 26th President Theodore Roosevelt for advice and "do what we can with what we have where we are" because this country, this world, this moment is calling to us. We are in trouble and we need everyone to take a helping role. You are "The One." Wake up, America. Wake up and Vote. "

I welcome your comments on HUFFPO.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

How About a Little Common Sense?

October draws to a close, and what an October it was. First I want to thank all of you that have taken the time to post comments at Huffington Post, my blog, or have sent me emails. You have shared some of your most personal thoughts on the issues and I honor you all. You have also inspired my next big piece – “Why Women Leave, Why Men Let Us, and Why We Both Should Be Sorry We Did.” Please keep those comments coming. They matter. Women’s Leadership is important stuff. Very important. Plus, I am a little peeved that my husband’s piece on short selling that I forced him to publish got over 300 comments. Womens leadership versus short selling? I know which one I care more about.

The stack of ‘to read’ has now gotten so high that it is scaring me. I have this ‘thing’ where I will not throw out a magazine or a newspaper before I have at least glimpsed through it and this ‘thing’ is now out of control since I get four newspapers daily ( NYT, WSJ, IBD and FT), Barrons, and countless monthly and weekly magazines. I also get a ridiculous amount of online material and some of it is just excellent.

I would like to highlight the latest installment by Bill Gross as an example. As background I have known of Bill Gross for twenty years and have met him once when I visited the PIMCO’s offices as a trading desk manager for GS. He is one smart dude and he has hired very smart people. Very. His piece, SO CQish, spoke to me for many reasons but here is the major one.

I too think of “myself as a pretty smart gal, but not that smart.” I too think of myself as pretty long on the common sense factor which is a broadly underrated quality in this world. He goes on to say that it is the “ability to not just absorb information and recycle it upon demand, but to analyze it and apply it within a uniquely different framework” is what common sense is. Again, I agree. This reminds me of some of the research I have been reading about investment style differences between men and women for a paper I have been working on forever with the National Council of Research on Women that looks at women in professional trading and portfolio management roles. We asked the following questions? Do women versus men manage money differently? Manage risk differently? What does the research tell us? I will report back with a list of those studies but what the research basically tells us is that there is no evidence that women do a worse job, and they may in fact do a better job? Why? Because we take in more information and process it more holistically before we make decisions. Heck, even Warren Buffet has been said to invest like a girl.

His message was so validating to the point I am making about Women’s Leadership. Thanks Bill!!!! Bill is saying that the lack of common sense contributed to this mess. I would take it further and say the lack of common sense is at the root of all of this. Think about how decisions have been made over the past couple of months. Think of how rushed they have been? Is not the main criticism of the administrative reaction to all of this is that it has been seat of the pants? As a CQ woman pointed out to me in a note back on my piece - wouldn't common sense tell us you don't give mortgages to people without a down payment? Wouldn't common sense tell us that you don't buy billions of credit product you don't understand? Wouldn't common sense tell us that you don't leverage your company 35 to 1? Wouldn't common sense tell us you cannot spend your way out of a problem created by too much spending?

Women at a minimum are not likely to be worse leaders, and it is quite possible that we are better ones because we take in more information, think about it longer, before we make decisions. Because of this quality we are seen as more risk-averse, which up until recently, was considered a bad thing.

Go and read the piece as it goes on to talk about how leverage is credit gone nuclear which is why we are in this mess to begin with. I have called it in the past credit on speed. This does not end nicely according to Bill Gross because the deleveraging process is far from over. I would have to agree.
I am sorry I keep turning blog entries in to OPEDs... I cannot help myself as there is just so much to write about.

Friday, October 31, 2008

"Why are Goldman's Women Invisible?"

Tuesday’s diary entry turned into a piece over at HuffPo they called “Why are Goldman’s Women Partners Invisible?” It is the most important piece of writing I have ever put out in to the world. The combination and timing of Goldman’s New Partner and MD Announcements, Bloomberg Market’s Magazines Cover piece on Lloyd Blankfein and the Goldman Alumni, and Goldman’s lack of comment to it, created a moment that I was called to respond to in a big way. CALLED. This piece is about the absence of Women’s Leadership, broadly. So if you are a woman at Goldman now, and reading this, please know I pray, pray, this piece helps and not hurts.


I continue to be so grateful to Goldman Sachs for so many things but on this issue, on the issue of Womens Leadership, I expect more of them. That is why I left six years ago, because I felt I had done all that I could do there and I was tired. (and I am sure many of the people there were tired of me) Well, I have gotten my energy back. That Bloomberg article ignited me.

Please think about posting a comment on the HUFFPO OPED if it resonates with you and link it around to everyone you know. Everyone. To those of you who are new to this blog, a big hearty welcome! Please join my mailing list to the right by entering your email address.

With so much going on in the markets right now and in the world in general, and so much going on within me, I've decided to put my thoughts out there in a new way. Through the newsletter, I'll share the lessons I learn from my various meetings with movers and shakers, links to what I'm reading, and news and views about money, markets, and changing the world--one purse at a time. I will also be asking other thought leaders to author letters as well. My dream is to make this effort a vehicle for empowerment and positive change. Simply enter your email address in the box to the right.

I just had a great idea. For all you women reading this… next year, let’s agree, to all wear Wonder Women costumes for Halloween! The more SHEROs in the world the better, even if it is just for one day. Actually..... I invite men to wear them too.