Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Greetings from Park City, Utah! Wishing you all a very Happy New Year! Thank you for your support and for sharing your insights. It most certainly was a very interesting year and 2010 will likely be one as well.
In early 2010 I will be switching from blogspot to a website so stay tuned. Blessings to all.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Financial Times Person of the Year - Lloyd Blankfein, Fannie and Freddie

The Financial Times names Lloyd Blankfein Person of the Year for how he handled his firm through the financial crisis. This bold nomination will most certainly be met with mixed feelings, but if you were to judge this CEO buy how his firm did for it's shareholders over the course of the year, you would have to say he did well. If you did not see this brilliantly written article by Bethany McClean in Vanity Fair about GS, read it now. I, like Bethany, tend to hold GS to a higher standard and I truly hope that they take on a greater role and responsibility for helping our economy return to solid ground. "To those to whom much has been given, much is expected."
If you are looking for a reason to get upset, and I encourage you not to, then read more about the goings on at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. For the past two years I have been writing about the problems at these two government sponsored entities, and the craziness continues. The government just uncapped the level of support they will recieve, and the losses that they will suffer will be so high that even thinking about the number makes be want to gag. In addition, the big pay packages to top executives was just revealed. Yes there are reasons to be upset about Goldman and other financial institutions, but most of them actually paid back the government for their support, and with hefty dividends. Not so for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I am truly not in to the blame game, but if you really must point fingers, then point them in the direction of Washington. I trace many of the problems we have had in the mortgage market to the growth of these two companies and the crowding out effect they created by growing their massive portfolios. One might ask if Fannie and Freddie did not leverage their cheap debt to invest in hundreds of billions of conventional mortgage product would wall street have created all the junk they did to generate higher yielding investments for their institutional buyers? We will never know.
I truly hope for a much better 2010. Though the equity markets have recovered greatly, deep problems in our economy, and around the world, remain. We are in such a deep fiscal mess and I doubt that the political will exists to make some very tough decisions that will lead us to longer term strong economic growth. Again, so many to blame, so many would a could a should a's, but I want to close that book and stop looking back and increasingly look forward.
I hope that 2010 will be the year of strong leadership, creative solutions, and thoughtful public engagement. Further I hope that 2010 will be a year that when we look back a decade from now, we will see that diversity of thought and action really took hold. We will see that 2010 was the year that we questioned old leadership and engagement models, and fresh perspectives found their voice because it was broadly recognized that was what was missing. I hope it will be a year that women's leadership takes a giant step forward, instead of a step back.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Let 2010 Be The Year You Get Financially Fit!!

What is on the top of your New Years Resolution List? Get in better shape? Get organized? Make more time for friends and family? How about taking charge of your finances? LEARNVEST can make it all easy, fun and best of all, it is FREE! LEARNVEST is a new start-up company I am thrilled to be a part of because I am passionate about girls and women, well everyone, becoming financially literate. The site is full of GREAT content and you can sign up for the LEARNVEST DAILY to get financial tips delivered to your inbox. Sign up for the 2010 Financial Bootcamp and you will have a month's full of coaching about everything you need to know about your finances. Give this gift to your friends and do it together. Please forward the link, tweet and help us make this bootcamp a movement! Money is a resource that we cannot affford to waste. Let's get smart about it, improve our lives, and change the world!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Goldman Sachs, the New York Times

For the record I did NOT speak to the NY Times about the Goldman retired Partner meeting that was held last week that I attended, but I was the one that asked Lloyd the question that is the subject of the cover page story in the NY Times today. "As CEO of Goldman Sachs, what do you want your legacy to be?" Mr. Blankfein had a long, thoughtful and very good answer. The Times did get it right in saying that "he, like his predecessors, hoped to position Goldman Sachs to capitalize on whatever opportunities might arise during his tenure." He went on to talk a lot more about it but since those meetings are off the record, as they should be, I cannot add to what was reported.

The article talks about the growing importance of trading and in my opinion, yes it is true, and has been for some time. It is debatable whether it is a good or bad thing. With respect to the question of being long term verus short term greedy, I personally think greedy is just not a good thing period. Greed is out GOOD is in, and Wall Street needs to embrace this big shift. As I said on CNN monday morning speaking to the changes that need to and should happen in financial services, we need firms like Goldman to ever increasingly use their knowledge, their insights, their resources, and some of their profits to help build a strong domestic and global economy. The price they should pay for growing to be so big to be big too fail, is a certain amount of responsibility for the overall economic and financial system. This is a new world where the strong need to help the weak and much will be asked and expected of the strong. Many have tried to put numbers around how much GS benefited from government programs, and that number is impossible to come up with, but clearly the public thinks it is bigger then Goldman does and wants a good chunk of it back. If I were running the firm, given how well GS is doing and the tremendous needs out there particularly around job creation, I would be pulling out all the stops to continue to come up with some good, fundable and impactful ideas. I wrote about a Virtue Fund a few weeks ago, and I still really like the concept!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Tipping Point.....( and yes, it is about WOMEN)

It is has been another one of those days, well two days actually. They were the kind of days that leave my head spinning with ideas, with possibility, with solutions!

Last year around this time I wrote a couple of my favorite entries of the over 300 I have now posted on this blog. If you have time, and you will need some time, please take a look. ( here, here and here) Now these are not the polished opeds you will find listed to the right, but some rants about what I felt was wrong in the world. It was in naming what was wrong, that the system FAILED, that enabled me to truly begin to focus on the solution set. It has been an incredible year. A year of such deep learning and understanding and I feel so grateful to everyone who has and continues to inform my thinking and help me on this crazy journey.

So this is what I am going to do tonight… weave together some words, some themes, from the writings of last year to the events of past two days. Each word, each phrase could be it's own blog entry but since I can't do that this word cloud of sorts will just have to do.

But first. We are at a tipping point. I know it. Last year it was more about seeing the problems then imagining the possible solutions. I knew in my heart that the problems we were facing (financial crisis, economic problems, poverty, violence...) were deeply connected to the absence of women in positions of power, the absence of power in the hands of women, and the underutilization of women’s economic power, but I could not really articulate it, let alone prove it. Now I feel I can do both. The data is out there in a variety of research reports ( old and new ) that I will soon list on my new web-site! (the list is LONG) But there is more to it. What was needed was a logic model that connects the facts, the data, to an investment thesis about why women and why now. ( The Business Case ) Further we needed a framework to capture the wicked problem of gender inequality, and we now have it thanks to the brilliant thinking of Chris Grumm of the Women's Funding Network - The Human Security Framework. Finally I have been imagining how to bridge the gap between the needs and opportunities of the for profit sector, with the non-profit sector. Although that is a very tall older I have ideas on where to begin, envisioning partnerships that make such good sense. These are all pieces of the puzzle that are finding their way in to place. It has taken years, but I am finally seeing it! I said it last year and I am saying it now…. Invest in women. INVEST in women. INVEST IN WOMEN!

Before. FAILED. Financial Crisis. Bad Business Models. Private Equity. Leverage. Risk. Lack of Women. Leadership. Are You Ready for a Revolution. Brokenness. Hope? Invest in Women. Critical Mass and more..

Monday. CNN. Pres. Obama. Fat Cats. Wall Street. Unemployment. Job Creation. Lend. Partnerships. Consulting. The Business Case for Women. The Global Forum for Women and the Economy. Next year? Female Davos. Center for Work Life Policy. Board Meeting. Corporate Engagement. Gen X. Lack of Progress. Economist Magazine. Mathew Bishop. Philanthrocapitalism. Women Moving Millions. Women’s Funding Network. Partnerships. Shared power. The Democratization of Philanthropy. Grassroots leadership. Scaling up not Trickle Down. Tuesday. Gary Haugan. The International Justice Mission. Human Slavery. Rescue. Persecute. Aftercare. Structural transformation. On the ground expertise. Human Security Framework. UBS. Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Women of Wealth. Social Change Philanthropy. Business Week. Why women? Why now? Management as a Social Innovation. Female Entrepreneurship. Lack of Capital. Barriers to entry. The Economic Power of Women. TARP. Job creation. Partnerships. Change the Paradigm. Subway. 73rd street. Party. Learnvest. Start-up. Financial Literacy. Feminism. The Feminine Mistake. Gloria Steinem. Destiny. Wonder Woman.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

CNN Appearance - Monday Morning

PursePundit to appear on CNN American Morning with William Cohan, Author of House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street - Monday morning around 7 am, to talk about Obama's message to Wall Street. Tune in!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Goldman Sachs Announces Changes to Executive Comp

I have been writing a lot about leadership over the past few weeks as responsible and moral leadership is much needed to lead us out of this financial, economic and social crisis. Yesterday I gave the shout out to CEO Jeff Immelt for his bold remarks, and today I would like to compliment the leadership shown by Goldman Sachs in adjusting their compensation structure. I have recently written about Goldman’s outstanding business principles and challenged them to ensure they are living up to them. They also have a set of compensation principles, which in print look outstanding indeed. CEO Blankfein was quoted as saying “we believe our compensation policies are the strongest in our industry and ensure that compensation accurately reflects the firm’s performance and incentivizes behavior that is in the public’s and our shareholders’ best interest.” Whether it be in cash or stock I am not sure what the ‘right’ level of compensation that is in the public’s best interest, but this recent action is most certainly a step in the right direction. More on this from the WSJ. A few weeks ago we called for them in this oped to be a leader in the industry, and they are doing just that!

For the record I am against these bank bonus taxes, and not because I was once a banker of sorts and have friends that are bankers. My reasoning relates to "what is a bank" and "what is a banker?" One of the main issues contributing to this crisis is the development of a shadow banking system, largely unregulated, that dwarfed the real banking system. Hedge funds, private equity funds, the GSEs, rating agencies, mortgage brokers, and so forth are all part of the system that contributed to this disaster and to impose a tax on only those in a classsic bank is just not right. I do think compensation got out of control in general and was deeply one sided and the public is paying for the clean up. That said what is needed is more of what I wrote about in the first paragraph. Responding to public pressure, shareholder pressure, and I hope in part by thinking about what is 'right' firms will and should rethink and be held accountable for their compensation practises. Government telling companies ( non bail out ) what they can pay their people is in my view against what this country is about and very dangerous indeed. What I have no space to go in to is the compexity and craziness of actually implementing something like this.... I deeply respect that so many people are suffering great financial hardship, but in this one writers opinion, a bonus tax does little to solve the problem. What will is real leadership and accountability.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jeff Immelt Speaks Out!!

In this blog I try to put forward people and ideas that can or do have positive impact on the world. Though there is the occasional rant about all things wrong in the world, increasingly I want focus on the good! With that in mind I want to commend Jeff Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, on taking a bold step yesterday and speaking openly about how corporate leadership has failed us, and what leaders need to do going forward.

This morning the Financial Times reported on a speech Mr. Immelt gave at West Point Military Academy where he said his generation of business leaders had succumbed to "meanness and greed" that had harmed the US economy and increased the gap between the rich and the poor. Mr Immelt's attack on his fellow corporate chiefs - made in a speech at the West Point military academy - is one of the strongest criticisms by a top executive of the compensation and business practices that prevailed before the financial crisis.

FT - I do not see this as an attack. I see this as more of an apology and more importantly a call to action for the leadership of corporate America ( which is 95% male CEOS of Fortune 500 companies) to think about their role in bringing upon us the Great Recession and help lead us out of it. He his putting his values out there by saying "the bottom 25 percent of the American population is poorer than they were 25 years ago. That is just wrong." He goes on to say "Ethically, leaders do share a common responsibility to narrow the gap between the weak and the strong." We need so much more of this kind of leadership. These kinds of bold words should be commended and we should hold Mr. Immelt accountable, as the CEO of one the world's largest companies, to increasingly put these values, his values, in to action.

I am honored to be part of an Corporate Leadership and Ethics Roundtable, organized by Auburn Theological Seminary, that gathers CEO level business leaders in the NY area to talk about important moral and ethical issues they face in running their businesses. I am good friends with President Katharine Henderson, with whom I recently wrote two opeds - "Can Goldman Sachs Find God?" and " If Wall Street Repents can Main Street Forgive?" on the Daily Beast. These conversations need to be going on as it is in part through having a private space to share, that leaders who step forward on moral issues will find their voice and stand together to have a positive impact on society as a whole. Thank you Mr. Immelt for taking a stand. If I were in the audience I would have given you a standing ovation.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Rudyard Kipling's - IF

I continuously ask myself the question - "Am I spending my time on this planet wisely? Given the tools and resources I have been given, am I using them well, to build something, or build on to something, responsibly?" I went to bed thinking about this and woke up with this poem, my favorite poem, in my head. I hope you enjoy it.....

Rudyard Kipling's - 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 DisasterAnd treat those two impostors just the same;If you can bear to hear the truth you've spokenTwisted 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 beginningsAnd never breathe a word about your loss;If you can force your heart and nerve and sinewTo serve your turn long after they are gone,And so hold on when there is nothing in youExcept 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 minuteWith 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!

(but of course I would change another ending, "You will be a woman, my daughter")

In 'googling' for a cool image I came upon this blogsite as my first hit. I just claimed another sister. Her blog theme "Find the Good. Be Inspired" - that is what we all need to continuously do. Have a GREAT Day.
PS - I just noticed that this was my 300 th post!!!! Another reason to celebrate.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"Requiem for the Dollar" - Read this.

I just read one of the most important business articles I have read in a long time. The Wall Street Journal - " After a glorious run, has the greenback become the General Motors of currencies, hobbled by bad management? James Grant mourns the loss of his beloved classical gold standard and says that paper money has had its day." It commands two pages of the WSJ and you will see why once you read it. I agree with him, in part because my husband has been talking about this for years. Years. Houston we have a problem....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

How Can We Help the World's Poor? Nic Kristof

This is not an easy question to answer but one that we all need to ask ourselves. On November 20th Nic Kristof tried to answer the question in a NYTimes oped. Click here to read it. He says something very important, that "It’s clear that doing good is harder than it looks." Although this is very true, doing good is also something we can choose every minute of the day. As it relates to helping the world's poor the complexity increases dramatically, and that is why we need big thinkers and doers to help lead the way. Nic highlights the work of the Acumen Fund, an organization I have written about before and am a big fan of. Acumen is an amazing example of a new and innovative approach to this challenge, and it's leader Jacqueline Novogratz is a true force of nature.

Nic and his wife Sheryl Wudunn wrote "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression in to Opportunity for Women Worldwide." If you have not read it yet, please do, and buy copies for others. They are truly a power couple, and we need to see a lot more couples stepping forward in partnership to make the world a better place. I am honored to know them personally and am looking forward to a special event with them both this week. I will report back on how this book is turning in to a global movement.

John Mauldin, John Hussman and Reckless Myopia

I am a big fan of John Mauldin and his newsletter. Below please find an excerpt from another must read piece. Click here for the whole article.

"Long time Outside of the Box readers are familiar with John Hussman of the eponymous Hussman Funds. And once again he is my selection for this week's OTB.

This week he touches on several topics, all of which I find interesting. As he notes:

"We face two possible states of the world. One is a world in which our economic problems are largely solved, profits are on the mend, and things will soon be back to normal, except for a lot of unemployed people whose fate is, let's face it, of no concern to Wall Street. The other is a world that has enjoyed a brief intermission prior to a terrific second act in which an even larger share of credit losses will be taken, and in which the range of policy choices will be more restricted because we've already issued more government liabilities than a banana republic, and will steeply debase our currency if we do it again. It is not at all clear that the recent data have removed any uncertainty as to which world we are in. "

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dubai, Black Friday, The Economy, The Markets and more...

The markets were rocked last week on the news coming from Dubai that they needed a 6 month moratorium on a big chunk of their debt. The biggest news about this is that it came as a huge surprise and sent the value of the debt crashing. It is not clear who holds all the exposure at this point but it will be a huge hit for sure. Financial stocks performed poorly as they should have. The real question behind it is who might be next? What other surprises are lurking in the shadows? If you have been reading this blog for a while you know that I think this credit crisis is far, far, far from over. The first wave of losses came primarily from exposure to residential mortgage product, but there will be much more coming from commercial mortgages and other assets. For more from the FT on the events in Dubai click here.

Thanksgiving shopping. Early reports are that sales over the weekend came in only slightly ahead of last year. "ShopperTrak, which measures the number of people going into about 50,000 stores, estimated that shoppers spent $10.7bn on the day after Thanksgiving, only 0.5 per cent up from last year. In 2008, ShopperTrak estimated that post-Thanksgiving Friday sales rose 3 per cent, although seasonal sales overall last year slumped." ( as reported in the FT) With official unemployment above 10%, and all inclusive north of 15%, it is hard to imagine why we should see good strong numbers this season. I did my own due diligence this weekend and braved the malls and though it was busy, it was not crazy. People were definitely looking for deals and any store, with the exception of the Apple Store, where prices were full retail were empty. Sorry.. but it is likely going to be another disappointing year for retailers but I think the movement towards buying what we need is a good thing long term. In January 2008 I wrote "Sadly, there's no short and easy fix to the longer-term problems created by excessive borrowing combined with rampant consumerism....." (huffpo) and that is still true today. We cannot spend our way out of a problem created by too much spending.

The Role of the FED - Another must read from late last week was this oped written by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke in the Washington Post. This is a big and important issue. Though there is lots of blame to push around as to who and what caused our current economic crisis, the FED has to be high on the list. Although I do believe in an independent yet accountable FED, one has to ask what is going to be different next time? With short term interest rates at zero for the forseeable future, one might ask if we are in fact planting the seeds for the next bubble. For more on the effects of zero rates read the latest from Bill Gross at Pimco. Click here

I have suggested many times that you subscribe to David Rosenburg's newsletters but if you have not, do it now. ( formerly chief strategist at ML now at Gluskin Sheff) David is brilliant and he writes at a level of detail and insight that I can only dream of.

It should be an interesting week for the markets - keep those seatbelts fastened.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Women's Median Center, Jehmu Greene and Jane Fonda

Monday Evening I had the pleasure of attending a gathering in support of the Women's Media Center, and their incoming President Jehmu Greene. Jehmu's previously held post was at ROCK THE VOTE, the largest ever youth registration group. She is a delightful woman committed to using the media to build powerful social justice movements. What does the WMC do? It engages in media advocacy to push media to address and discuss sexism in their coverage. Additionally they create their own content, media train women and support, a searchable database of over 500 women experts. Please click here to learn more and consider sponsoring this amazing organization.
The guest of honor for the evening was Jane Fonda, two time Academy Award winning actress, social activist and philanthropist. Around a dinner table we discussed why many young women cannot relate to the word feminism, how the media can be used to drive positive change, and so much more. After dinner Jane did a Salon style reading from her book "My Life So Far" and it was easy too see why this fabulous woman has won two Academy Awards.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am grateful for so many things, including my incredible family who loves and supports me. and especially for my mother, who is such a role model for me and is visiting from British Columbia, Canada.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Iceland, Women, Feminine Values and Audur Capital

Last week I hosted a lunch for two amazing women from Iceland that I met at the Deauville Global Women's Forum. They were in the US to talk about their business, Audur Capital, a money management firm they founded based on feminine values. I was going to write all about it but the Guardian did it for me. I was thrilled when this story popped up in my inbox today thanks to Naked Capitalism. I have included an excerpt below but be sure to read the full article. This two women are amazing, absolutely amazing. They are not only imagining what is possible for a financial services firm, but doing it. ( see an excerpt below)
"..Prominent among them are Halla Tómasdóttir and Kristin Petursdóttir, the founders of Audur Capital, who have teamed up with the singer Björk to set up an investment fund to boost the ravaged economy by investing in green technology. Petursdóttir, a former senior banking executive, and Tómasdóttir, the former managing director of the Iceland Chamber of Commerce, decided just before the crunch to set up a firm bringing female values into the mainly male spheres of private equity, wealth management and corporate advice.

Tómasdóttir says: "Our Björk fund is to focus on sustainable growth. Iceland was the first in the world into the crisis, but we could be the first out, and women have a big role to play in that. It goes back to our Viking women. While the men were out there raping and pillaging, the women were running the show at home.

"We have five core feminine values. First, risk awareness: we will not invest in things we don't understand. Second, profit with principles - we like a wider definition so it is not just economic profit, but a positive social and environmental impact. Third, emotional capital. When we invest, we do an emotional due diligence - or check on the company - we look at the people, at whether the corporate culture is an asset or a liability. Fourth, straight talking. We believe the language of finance should be accessible, and not part of the alienating nature of banking culture. Fifth, independence. We would like to see women increasingly financially independent, because with that comes the greatest freedom to be who you want to be, but also unbiased advice."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"If Wall Street Repents Can Main Street Forgive?"

Last Sunday I co-wrote a piece for the Daily Beast called "Can Goldman Find God?" asking Goldman to put their resources to work to fund job creation. This week they announced their "10,0000 Small Business Initiative." Given this news, the apology by CEO Blankfein, and more... we decided to write another article to follow-up. It is called "If Wall Street Repents Can Main Street Forgive?" If you feel called to comment please do so on the DAILY BEAST site and not on this blog.

I don't think it coincidence that the sermon this morning at church was how to change our culture. Our minister asked us to consider how, as a follower of Christ, do we impact our culture? He suggested three ways - outlove our culture, outthink our culture and outcommitt our culture. This is exactly what I am trying to do in writing about Goldman Sachs, about Wall Street, about Money, about Social Change, about Gender Equality and more. I feel called to leverage my background as a former partner of Goldman Sachs, and a Christ follower, to speak out. We NEED a new form of capitalism to go to work in this country - responsible capitalism, moral capitalism, socially responsible capitalism, enduring capitalism! We need our culture to change - the culture of Wall Street and the culture of Main Street.
I am so far from perfect, and the person I most want to change is myself. I want to live a loving and generous life. A life that honors God and honors others. This is what we are all called to do...

I also think this piece is worth a read "Stop Blaming Goldman Sachs."
Have a great Sunday.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Life's Lessons

I just received this in my inbox and it is too good not to share. It has been a busy and intense week with travel to Washington, a gathering of media powerhouse women to talk about advancing gender equality through the media, a meeting with two amazing women from Iceland who are reimagining financial services and so much more.... but for now, ponder what is below.

"Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.It is the most-requested column I've ever written.My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good. 2. When in doubt, just take the next small step. 3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. 4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch. 5. Pay off your credit cards every month. 6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree. 7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone. 8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it. 9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck. 10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile. 11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present. 12. It's OK to let your children see you cry. 13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about. 14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it. 15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks. 16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind. 17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful. 18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger. 19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else 20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, and wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special. 22. Over prepare, then go with the flow. 23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple. 24. The most important sex organ is the brain. 25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?' 27. Always choose life. 28. Forgive everyone everything. 29. What other people think of you is none of your business. 30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time. 31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change. 32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does. 33. Believe in miracles.34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do. 35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now. 36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.37. Your children get only one childhood. 38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved. 39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere. 40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back .41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.42. The best is yet to come... 43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up. 44. Yield. 45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift. "

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Goldman Sachs - "10,000 Small Business Initiative" - $500 mm

Well I would love to say that Goldman Sachs, after reading the CALL TO ACTION we sent out on Sunday on the Daily Beast, responded with this $500 million initiative, but this is clearly something they have been working on for some time. The“10,000 Small Business Imitative” was announced today will attempt an integrative and collaborative approach to address the barriers to growth for small business. ( read about it here on the GS web-site) The approach appears thoughtful and multi-faceted, much like their 10,000 Women Initiative, and appears to be a bold new step in corporate philanthropy. Only five times bigger!!!!!! The program highlights include:
- Business and Management Education
- Mentoring and Networking
- Access to Capital
- Advisory Council
I congratulate Goldman on this program and will look forward to reading a lot more about it. Clearly they are trying to respond to what they see as an urgent need, job creation and job security. And it is an urgent, urgent need.

We have to celebrate this. We have to. Why? Because the public has called them to do something, something big, and they did… and we want them and others to do more. Should we expect this from them? Yes we should. Let’s expect Goldman to be leaders in helping to rebuild our economy.

There is much that needs to be done around economic security, job creation, and financial literacy and let’s all use our creativity on how to make a difference in these areas. I am working on a proposal that would be PERFECT for a financial institution partner so if you are one of those, leave me a note! Women’s Funds around this country are “shovel ready.” By this I mean that money can have immediate impact as it is scaling up programs that are already in place and working. More to come on this…..

Goldman, Congrats. JP Morgan, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Blackrock, Fortress, and more ….. What are you going to do? The collective lack of leadership and responsibility of our country’s largest financial institutions played a role in creating and enabling this financial crisis and I would like to call you all to create your own “10,000 SOMETHING Initiative.” “To those to which much has been given, much is expected.”

Lessons Learned From the Financial Crisis

Bill Dudley, President of the New York Fed made further remarks on the causes of the financial crisis that I thought are worth sharing. (click her for the full report) Thanks to Naked Capitalism for highlighting it. "One clear culprit was the failure of regulators and market participants alike to fully appreciate the strength of the amplifying mechanisms that were built into our financial system." You can say that again. The reasons and learnings are pages long but what is really good is that there seems to be real learning happening that should result in some very positive changes in the industy. Much needed indeed.

Have a great day.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

"God versus Goldman Sachs: A Former Partner Challenges Lloyd Blankfein"

Yes that it the headline this morning on the DAILY BEAST - one of the most viewed news sites on the net this Sunday morning. Almost two years ago I decided to throw myself out there and write publically about issues I care about. When I saw the article last week in the Sunday Times about Lloyd saying that Goldman is doing "God's Work", how could I not respond? Especially given that I am married to a pastor and we were both Goldman Partners.

Even though I left Goldman seven years ago, I will forever be a partner of the firm, and for that reason and many more I continue to care deeply it. For years I gave speeches on the firm's culture, the firm's structure, and actively recruited countless young people to 85 Broad Street. I was a corporate cheerleader to the utmost degree, and for that reason and my trading profitability, I was promoted. Becoming a partner changed my life forever, and that of my husband, because ultimately it gave us enough money to commit our lives to non-profit work and of course, our family. For us, what we recieved was enough, more then enough, and we will be forever grateful. My husband returned to school and to get his masters of divinity and is now an associate pastor at our church in New Canaan CT. In fact he just ran out the door as he is preaching this morning on change. He has worked passionately for nine years for our church, and because of GOLDMAN, can do so without getting paid. Thank you Goldman. My passion is for women and girls. I have written on this often on this blog but I as believe that a key factor in our world becoming a more just and equitable place is greater gender equality. I serve on many non-profit boards and increasingly have given speeches, appear on television, and write about why we need more women in positions of leadership and power. ( ... and more) Thank you Goldman. I can give you a very long list of other people that have 'retired' to serve the world BECAUSE, in part, of the culture we experienced while at Goldman.

So yes I had to write this piece, and I am so gratefuly that my friends Rev. Katharine Henderson, President of Auburn Seminary, and Rev. JC Austin could write it in partnership with me. Greg would have been up for the task too if he did not have to write his guest sermon this week. So Lloyd YES I am challenging you because I know you are up for the challenge. Goldman's reputation has been damaged and you need to do something about it, and something BIG. This in the best interest of your people and your shareholders. I suggested in a earlier blog post that it should be around job creation, economic security and financial literacy, and this "Virture Fund" could target just that. As the piece says, I expect more of Goldman Sachs because it is my recollection from my time ( 14 years) there that Goldman Sachs and it's people have always expected more of themselves.

So since it is Sunday, and we are talking about God, and I am a Christian I will end with a prayer, something I have not done on this blog before - "Dear Heavenly Father. The world is not a fair place, but we know that you are fair. So many people, your people, your children, are suffering and we pray you hear them and you comfort them. We pray today that you will help us all choose actions that will make this world better. We pray that you CHANGE our hearts to hear the cries of others, and that will drive our actions. We pray that you make us all generous people, because you are so generous with us. We know you expect a lot from us because you know what we are capable of. We know that you tell us that to those to which much is given much is expected. We know that it is in serving that we will find our peace and our joy. We pray this in your name - Amen.

Have a great Sunday.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Changing the World - Critical Mass

I have been thinking about this a lot this week, mainly because my husband Greg is preaching on change this Sunday at church. Can people change? How do people change? What is the process of change? Why do people change? We all have our opinions on this and I believe we all have our own theory of change, meaning how we think change can happen. For me I think about it a lot in the context of how can the world change to become more gender balanced. The Women's Funding Network has a model - The Five Indicators of Social Change - that I believe is truly brilliant. Here it is.

The Five Indicators of Social Change

A Shift in Definition - The issue is defined differently in the community or larger society.
A Shift in Behavior - People are behaving differently in the community or larger society.
A Shift in Engagement - People in the community or larger society are more engaged. Critical mass has been reached.
A Shift in Policy - An institutional, organizational, or legislative policy or practise has changed.
Maintaining Past Gains - Past Gains have been maintained generally in the face of opposition.

This is how you use this framework. Think about what you want to change and apply it to this framework. Take my passion - We need more women in critical mass in positions of leadership and influence in the financial services sector.

Definition - We need to make the case for why this is important. We need women because it leads to better decision making and a higher return on equity.
Behavior - Based on the above, boards of directors choose to add more women, CEOS starts walking the walk not just talking the talk. ( as examples)
Engagement - More and more companies do this, it becomes why aren't you doing this?
Policy - Companies broadly adopt a critical mass principle and more.
Past Gains - Advocacy continues and the business case is validated over time.

Think about what you want to change and put it in this framework. There are specific strategies within each one of these shifts which need to be employed - but that would be a very long blog entry indeed.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Goldman Sachs in the NEWS - again....

I sat down this evening to read this 7 page article " I'm doing 'God's work'. Meet Mr Goldman Sachs (The Sunday Times gains unprecedented access to the world's most powerful, and most secretive, investment bank) READ IT HERE. It is so detailed and covers so much ground that I honestly don't know where to begin but here it goes....

I left Goldman Sachs in 2002 after a 14 year career, a career I was very proud of. Like so many others that went on to make partner I started as an analyst, and worked my way through the ranks. I did not come from "money" not did I view my reasons for being to make it. In a survey Catalyst did on why people work on Wall Street the number one answer was in fact - challenging and meaningful work that allows one to use their intellect in dynamic ways. That was true for me and for the vast majority of people I came to know and respect at Goldman. Sure money was important, but it was not all about the money. In this article Mr. Arlidge clearly states it is.

Reading this piece I kept asking myself was he really talking about Goldman? Is the author just extremely biased, or has so much changed in the 7 years that I have been gone? Yes I did notice that over my tenure there the firm was becoming more money centered, and in fact that was one of the reasons I left, but if the firm is truly as money obsessed as he suggests I worry about the long term viability of the firm, and so dear shareholders, should you.

The authors main criticism is over outsized compensation and earnings. There is no doubt that compensation has skyrocketed over the past decade. The reasons for that have been written about extensively but cheap money created an explosion in the size of the financial services sector- and GS is the best there is in the sector. In the meltdown GS was smarter then the rest in not losing money, and because everything got cheap when the financial markets nearly came to an end, and GS got billions of free money, they loaded the boat and are now enjoying the benefits. Should there be a tax on that success because GS was saved, and yes Lloyd you were saved... not for me to decide but likely not. I mean really, how do you do that "fairly"? If you incrementally tax GS then you need to tax others than benefitted as well. ( and let us not forget they will pay a boatload of taxes which we desperately need ) The system needed saving and the government gave a lot of players the tools to do so, and GS did it better then most, but they are not the only players printing money.

That being said, GS should do something on their own, and do it fast, to benefit the common good. Why? Because it makes good long term business sense. ( Though I do wish the pastor they mention - and by the way my husband, an ex GS partner is one too - would speak to the management committee - as well as an external audience - about the ethics of how you can make much money and more importantly, what to do with your money when you make so much.)
So what should GS do with all that money? They could pay themselves less, and pay more out in dividends, which seems to be the most obvious thing to do, but a big charitable investment might make sense too. Yes they have done this already with the 10,000 Women's Initiatives, but it seems like it is time for something else, and specifically around job creation. Last week I sent a meeting request to a very senior person at the firm hoping to meet around this idea... but so far, nothing. In case I can't get that meeting I want to go on record as saying this - Goldman, use your resources to do something, something big, around job creation. This is the number one issue in America right now and we need your help! I do have ideas and will gladly wait in line to share them.
Why should they do this? Because at the core of GS business principles, which you can read here , is the protection and enhancement of the firm's reputation, and it is badly damaged right now.

Principle number two:

"Our assets are our people, capital and reputation. If any of these is ever diminished, the last is the most difficult to restore. We are dedicated to complying fully with the letter and spirit of the laws, rules and ethical principles that govern us. Our continued success depends upon unswerving adherence to this standard. "
You can read the rest but the principles are there to balance profit motivation with a sense of what is right and it does seem that GS is indeed out of balance. Yes Goldman exists to make money, but it does not only exist to do that.
In closing I spent 14 years at Goldman, my husband 15, and it was truly an exceptional place to work. Though we have been gone a long time, it breaks my heart to read stories like the one referenced here. I truly hope that GS responds to all this negative press in a positive way, and chooses to mobilize resources to help our country deal with the huge mess we are in. Why? Because that is what the firm's business principles calls them to do.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

John Mauldin, Economic News ..... sorry, not good

I read a lot about the economy, and the one person who consistently talks about the issues that matter to me most is John Mauldin. If you have not already done so, please just sign up for his newsletter and get his detailed analysis sent to you directly. You can do that here....
It is a beautiful day and I am looking forward to spending some time with my awesome kids, but ... this is John's latest. ( excerpt below )

"Like teenagers, we as a US polity have made a number of bad choices over the past decade. We allowed banks to overleverage and, in the case of AIG (and others), sell what were essentially naked call options of credit default swaps, based on their firm balance sheets, far in excess of their net worth; and that put our entire financial system at risk. We gave mortgages to people who could not pay them, and did so in such large amounts that we again brought down the entire world financial system to the point that only with staggering amounts of taxpayer money was it brought back from the brink of Armageddon. We assumed that home prices were not in a bubble but were a permanent fixture of ever-rising value, and we borrowed against our homes to finance what seemed like the perfect lifestyle. We did not regulate the mortgage markets. We ran large and growing government deficits. We did not save enough. We allowed rating agencies to degrade their ratings to a point where they no longer meant anything. The list is much longer, but you get the idea.
Now, we are faced with a continuing crisis and the aftermath of multiple bubbles bursting. We are left with a massive government deficit and growing public debt, record unemployment, and consumers who are desperately trying to repair their balance sheets.
If present trends are left unchecked, we will need to find $15 trillion in the next ten years, just to pay for US government debt, let alone state, county, and city debt. And perhaps some loans for business will be needed? Where can all this money come from? The answer is that it can't be found. Long before we get to 2019 there will be an upheaval in the market, forcing what could be unpleasant changes.
We are left with no good choices, only bad ones. We have created a situation that is going to cause a lot of pain. It is not a question of pain or no pain, it is just when and how we decide (or are forced) to take it. There are no easy paths, but some bad choices are less bad than others. So, let's review some of the choices we can make........" - subscribe for more............

There has been a lot of activity in GOLD of late. My husband's favorite site for 'all things gold' is

Friday, November 6, 2009

WFN, The Shriver Report, Joan Walsh and Economic News

I just got off the red-eye from San Francisco, returning from the best ever Women’s Funding Network Board Meeting. WFN is a network of over 140 Women’s Funds around the world. What is a women’s fund you might ask? Think of it as an investment model for philanthropy. Think about how you might hire a mutual fund manager to pick the best stocks for you, that are going to give you the highest return on your money, and that is what a women’s fund will do for you with your giving dollars. Their goal is to empower, serve, enable, lift up, and assist women, girls and their families by giving grants to outstanding organizations and leaders. It is so difficult to process all the charitable requests we get, and choose from the hundreds of thousands of non-profits that are out there, so I suggest that if you want to invest in social change with the goal of creating a more just and equitable world, take a look at Women’s Funds. A couple great examples are the New York Women’s Foundation, The Ms. Foundation, and the Global Fund for Women. By choosing to make an investment in all three, which is what I do with my philanthropic investment portfolio, you are investing locally, nationally and internationally across a very diverse portfolio of programs and initiatives. WFN is the networking organization that leverages the collective impact of these funds, and provides them with some tools to increase the effectiveness of the work they do.

This was a very exciting meeting as it truly is a pivotal time for the advancement of women. After years of little to no progress we are seeing amazing energy, insights, research and momentum around greater gender equality. The latest report is called the SHRIVER REPORT, and you can download all 500 pages of it here.

“This report brings together the relentless intellect of a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist who pushed beyond statistics to fully reveal the complexity of women’s lives and the academic muscle of a progressive think tank that understand how to comb through data and illuminate the trends re-shaping the American Landscape.”

It is a most certainly a must read ( which i will start this weekend) as I believe with all my heart and mind that gender equity is the most important issue facing us today. I believe with all my heart and mind that gender discrimination and inequalities are at the root cause of so many of the big problems we face – poverty, violence, environmental challenges, HIV/AIDS, trafficking and more. It is not at gender equality will solve all our problems, but the evidence continues to mount that when women and girls have economic security, access to education, access to health care, can be free from violence, and enjoy basic human rights – the lives of their families, their communities, their countries and therefore the world is better. Investing in women is the key to global growth and sustainable.

For an insightful commentary on this report and reflections on where women are now and why, read this recent oped by Joanne Lipman. She says what I believe to be true, that despite all the headlines about us being in a woman’s world, the real conversation has yet to change. Read on…..
Last night I was honored to have dinner with Joan Walsh, the editor-in-chief of She is truly one spectacular women. We talked a lot about her appearance earlierin the year on The Bill O'Reilly talking about late term abortion and the Dr. Tiller murder. This is a must watch. The history is that Mr. O'Reilly had over time repeated called Dr. Tiller a baby-killer and when he was shot Ms. Walsh had this to say about it. For why she did the show read this. Bottom line we all have to be willing to stand up for what we believe in and engage in intelligent debate around it. Thank you Ms. Walsh for all you do and I will be a paid subscriber to for a long time to come. As for Bill O'Reilly, I never watch him anyways and this is the best example yet of what I don't.

Lastly I have to make a brief comment about the economic news today.

Jobs - The unempoyment rate hit 10.2%. ( read more on Bloomberg) I have written about this a lot but until the job situation improves, how can anything else.

Fannie Mae - posts a loss of $18.8 billion in the third quarter. Again, I have written a lot about this disaster and it is already a long post but the problems with Fannie, Freddie, FHA are in the hundreds of billions. For those out there who are calling for government to take over financial institutions, think again.

"Catching Argentinian Disease" is a must read by my fav investment guru, John Mauldin. This is the arguement my husband, ex-emerging markets trader, has been making for years and is why we own GOLD.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Gold is the favorite commodity in the Zehner household. No I wish it was because of all the lovely jewlery I have, but rather it is the investment/trade that my husband has embraced for a long time, mainly because of his negative views of the US dollar combined with his inflationary outlook. I have written about Gold before, but what is noteworthy this week is that it has hit new highs. I just checked the price it is at $1090. For all things GOLD check out JSMINESET . Here is what David Rosenberg has to say about recent performance -

"With the dollar soft, commodities are firming with oil breaking above $80/bbl and on its way for a third winning session in a row; the metals are following suit. Gold has broken out yet again and is up another 1% so far today as it begins to challenge the $1,100/oz mark (according to unofficial IMF estimates, the Reserve Bank of India bought gold at $1,045/oz. With the size of the purchase (8% of annual mined production) and at that price it certainly helps establish a floor! The fact that the yellow metal is accomplishing this with ongoing deflationary developments — Euroland PPI came out for September and showed a 0.4% MoM decline and a -7.7% YoY trend — suggests that other factors are driving bullion to new bullish heights. It’s called scarcity of supply relative to fiat currency. "

Are we still bullish? Yes.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween, The Markets, The Economy.....

Well it seems that Halloween occurred a day early this year as something sure scared the life out of the equity markets on Friday! A “very volatile week ended with a 249-point drop” says the WSJ headline on Saturday. This despite a relatively good headline GDP on Thursday, but I guess investors had a chance to dig deep behind the number to see that the economy is not looking too rosy. Many a commentator were quick to say, and I would agree, that if it were not for government programs to pump up housing ( first time home buyer credit) and auto sales (cash for clunkers), the number would have much lower. Of course that was the purpose of the programs, but the problem is how much more of our children’s future will we spend today?

For a while it has seemed to be that the stock market and the economy are disconnected. While equities have experienced a glorious bounce, the economy (jobs, consumer spending, business investment….) remains in poor shape. Looking back, March prices were most certainly pricing in financial Armageddon, but the more important current question is: what is being priced in now? According to David Rosenberg, former ML pro now at Gluskin Sheff, PEs are way too high given the underlying economy.

Let’s take a quick look at the bad news, again. The employment situation remains dismal. The reported number continues to rise and the shadow number had been estimated to approach 17%. The consumer continues to increase savings at a record rate, which is good for them but bad for the US and global economy. Consumer spending accounts for 70% of our economy and it was reported down this week. We can remain hopeful that Christmas sales exceed expectations but honestly, do we really want people to buy stuff they don’t need, and that they cannot necessarily afford?

Can we all just face the reality that the party for the US consumer is over and the painful hangover is unavoidable? ( read this from last year ) The truth is there are only two choices, each more unpleasant than the other. The government can pull back on its stimulus measures in order to rein in the deficit which would cause a deflationary spiral leading to housing prices to fall even further, increasing foreclosures, increasing unemployment and further reducing consumer spending. Conversely, the government can continue stimulus and quantitative easing in order to inflate the economy reduce the real non-governmental debt burden and build support for housing. The problem with this scenario is that the deficit will continue to grow, the dollar will fall, and the purchasing power of the US consumer will decline. I am not sure we can navigate the middle ground between these two scenarios. It seems the government is choosing to spend now and deal with the consequences later, but there will be consequences indeed.

Of note is that CIT, a major lender to small business lender is set to declare bankruptcy, which is really bad news for small business and more broadly. The government has already given them big bucks ( $2.3 BB) and because they do not represent “a systematic risk” to the system they will not be rescued. They are the 5th largest bankruptcy in US history. Not good…..

pictured here - my two adorable children in their costumes! We need a reason to smile...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Womens Forum, Gloria, BCRF, The Gentlemen's Fund, and What if?

I'm back! After 10 days of travel in Europe and two days reconnecting with my family, the week started off with a bang! Although I promised not to continue to make this blog a report on the activities of Jacki Zehner, please allow me to comment on the important events of this week. First, on monday evening I celebrated 35 years of the existence of the New York Women's Forum with a roomful of the most incredible women in the city ( and a few good men!). I am honored to a member of this diverse group of educators, non-profit leaders, writers, business women, donors and more. It was created to offer a space for women to gather, connect, share, and help one another achieve their life goals, and serve the community. Their education fund provides scholarship funds to women over the age of 35 achieve their academic goals. Truly an inspiring evening.

Last night I co-hosted a party for the Ms. Foundation in continued celebration of the 75th birthday of their founding member Gloria Steinem. What was so special about this gathering was that in the room was a an incredibly diverse group of people - from a 14 year old young man, to a 60 year old iconic hedge fund manager. Gloria shared stories from her life of activism and focussed on the effects of the 'gendered' world we live in. We all imagined living in a world where all people where not inhibited by expectations and limitations, but rather came to be their full selves.... A very special evening indeed.

I am now dashing to the Breast Cancer Research Luncheon and then to GQ magazine's Gentlemen's Ball - founded by our good friend Pete Hunsinger ( picgtured) , publisher of GQ. As I wrote last year Pete created this fund to raise awarenenss and funds for important causes, including the one mentioned below. I thank and honor all the amazing men in the world that are using their resources - their time, their treasure, their talent - to make a better world.

I would love to call your attention to an amazing organization and an amazing person that I have featured previously on this BLOG. Lamont Hiebert is an abolitionist, a singer/songwriter, and one incredible human being. "Love146 ( his non-profit) combats child sex slavery and exploitation with the unexpected, and restores survivors with excellence". In a recent blog he calls us to imagine if it where white males being trafficked, instead of women and girls, would more be done? This is one of the most important issues of our world and we all need to think deeply about how we can be part of the solution. Thanks Lamont for all you do to make this world a more just place.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Deauville, Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg Global Seminar, Philanthropy for Global Impact

From France where I attended the Women's Forum For the Economy and Society conference to now Salzburg where I am attending the "Smart Change" Investing in Women and Girls - Leveraging Philanthropy for Global Impact Seminar - what a week! Yes this is where I am staying (to the left) as it is the location of the Salzburg Global Seminar, a place where for 50 years people have gathered to think, share, organize, mobilize and more. For Sound of Music fans, it was filmed here! ( at least in part) Before you get too jealous know that we are working our bottoms off trying to advance the womens movement with little time to take in the views.

As someone said early on we are indeed trying to solve a "wicked problem." Moving our world towards a place of greater equality and equity is complex indeed but there have been breakthroughs here, at least there have been for me. The Women's Funding Network has provided us with a framework that I truly believe has handles for everyone to grab on to. ( more on that to come) You might ask who is present here for this conversation and it is very broad based - Executive Directors of non-profits, donor leaders, government NGO leaders, academics, philanthropy consultants and more. In terms of geographical representation we have women and men from all over the world including Nigeria, Jordan, The Netherlands, and more....

So I know I owe my readers much more content and less travel updates and I promise it will come. Having attended three global conferences in two weeks, the other being the World Business Forum, I have content, people, ideas, knowledge that could keep me writing for weeks to come.

Tidbits from Deauville.............

I had the opportunity to speak on a panel with Halla Tomasdottir of Audur Capital who is from Iceland and started an investment management firm based on feminine values that one the Cartier Award. She is a rock star and a new best friend!
watch her here

I did have the amazing opportunity to spend some time with Melanne Verveer, The US Ambassador For Global Women's Issues. She is one incredible woman and I cannot tell you how encouraged I am to know she is in Washington representing all of us.

For the take on the conference from the New York Times click here and here. From the Guardian click here. For a special piece related to our release of the NCRW hedge fund report, click here.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Womens Forum, Crititical Mass and Paris

It was a couple of amazing days in Deauville, France for the "Women's Forum for the Economy and Society." There was an aweseome line-up of speakers and attendees from around the world. I made many new friends including two inspiring women working in leadership development in Australia, and an absolute rock star from Iceland who who has created a new financial advisory firm. We launched the NCRW Women in Fund Management report to a roomful of people, and were interviewed by reporters from all over the world. In many of the sessions people asked the question if "Lehman Brothers had been Lehman Brothers and Sisters, would we be in the place we are today? " and we were there with answers and opinions.

One idea that we had put forward in the paper definitely seemed at the center of focus for many, and that was the idea of an absolute need for a 'critical mass' of women in positions of power and leadership. The evidence is abundant that diversity leads to better decision making so the question was, why has that not happened? The reasons of course are listed in out report but one has to ask the question, "if not now, when?" I say now.....

Nina and I returned to Paris today and spent the day walking around this magical city. I am off to Salzburg tomorrow for a women's donor gathering. More from Austria later in the week.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Off to Europe....

I am sorry I have not been able to write about last week's conference just yet but I have been madly preparing for my trip to France and Austria. We are doing a launch of the Women in Fund Management Paper at a global economic forum, and then I am off to a donor conference in Salzburg. I hope I will have easy access to blog from Europe but if not... I will have lots to post when I return. Best wishes...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lloyd Blankfein and Goldman Sachs

Finally I read a 'fair' article on Goldman Sachs! After the absolutely ridiculous piece in Rolling Stone a few weeks back, and the surprisingly harsh words by Paul Krugman, Holman Jenkins in this weekends WSJ writes of his interview with the firms CEO Lloyd Blankfein. As a reminder I am a former partner of GS, having left in 2002, and worked directly for the man you see to the left.

There are many good things about Goldman and there are some things that could be a lot whole lot better, which is true for any firm. Bottom line is that Lloyd was very right in saying that GS has superior risk management and human capital that when added together is the best of any firm anywhere. Because of those things and more they weathered the financial meltdown better then all other large players. The key question asked to Lloyd was "would they have gone under if the gov't did not intervene?" The answer of course is YES because under that scenerio EVERY financial institution would have melted and the world as we know it would be gone. Goldman was not in a liquidity crisis per se but in a world where all faith in financial institutions was evaporating, GS was not immune. Some would say ' YIPPEE' to the idea that GS should cease to exist but I would suggest they have not thought it through. We need healthy, risk taking financial institutions, but the question remains, should they be accountable for the greater good? I say yes and this is where I am disappointed in Goldman. I expect them to be better then all the rest not only in their risk management, but in holding themselves to a higher standard to be leaders in the industry. Why? Because they can.

We need to change, dare I say transform, our financial institutions and I look to Goldman to lead the way. Why? For exactly the same reasons as why they survived and thrived, because they have superior risk management and human capital that when added together is the best of any firm anywhere. They should also come to realize it is good for their business long term. It is also good for their business for the general public to actually think they add a lot of value and not a stable of greedy little piggies.

Should Goldman in an ideal world have done a lot more to prevent the crisis? Yes. Should they now put it upon themselves to do more to make the system a whole lot stronger? Yes. This is fair criticism but again it should be directed to all the large financial firms. Now that it seems we are out of danger with respect to a financial meltdown, I would encourage GS and other CEOS to come clean, and move forward in a positive direction. This direction should not only be about making money, which seems a lot easier now that a few of the largest firms are gone, but rather to balance making money with a greater good.

I wish Lloyd would have said in this interview "Holman, there were a lot of things I wished I would have done differently before and during this crisis, but especially before. I wish that we had used the insight that we had regarding the problems in sub-prime mortgages and other credit products to not only make money for GS and our shareholders, but to warn Washington of the problems we saw on the horizon. I wish we were not only less of a player in creating toxic waste product, but not a player at all because we forsaw the problems, including huge potential losses for our clients. I wish we set the bar for our behavior a lot higher and encouraged others to follow us. I wish we would have emerged from this crisis having been seen as doing the right thing not only for our employees and our shareholders, but for the public as a whole, at least as much as could have been reasonably expected from a publicly traded company. I have learned many lessons from almost failing as an institution, and I will put them to practise as we move our firm, our country, and our world forward in to a more sustainable economic and financial future."

I know dream on, but honestly, I believe this. I believe that there is not a cement wall between what is done in the best interest of a public company, and what is the best interest of the general population. I believe that firms like Goldman and leaders like Mr. Blankfein should be held accountable for a greater good and should WANT to be. Afterall, is that not why, in part, he should be paid $56 million. ( ok forget that, no one should be paid $56 mm for being a CEO) I believe that is true especially in the financial services business and especially for firms that are deemed too big to fail. I believe that what this world needs is more responsbile and accountable leadership from ALL for all.

I am worried about our collective future. I truly am. At the World Business Conference this past week I heard the likes of Bill Clinton and Jeff Sachs talk about how we are on a collision course for disaster in terms of how we are using resources and more. I also feel very strongly that we are on a long road to economic recovery in this country. So what , WHAT, will be the 'thing' that helps us get on a more positive track? In part I think it will be this. That we will have a revolution. "A revolution is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time." What will drive this revolution is that we decide that what we need to do is unleash positive human potential. That we to unleash people's passion to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. How will this get started? When leaders from all sorts of places, including Goldman Sachs, step up, big time. When they begin to acknowledge that they themselves can do better, and help to create a culture where people are encouraged and supported for being problem solvers, creative thinkers, and challenge the status quo. We all need to be inspired right now. Not only by words, but more importantly by actions. We need actions by visable and powerful people that balance the self interest with the interest in the common good.

Hey Goldman. Perhaps think about taking a few hundred million that you are going to pay your people and ask them for ideas on how that money can be used to help our country and our world? Perhaps ask your employees if they would be willing to take a pro-rate share of their compensation and use it for real solutions to real problems identified by them. Solicit ideas, then fund them. By the way this does not necessarily have to be charitiable giving, but investing in businesses that will create jobs. How about using those dollars that would have gone to comp and give everyone a pro-rate share in the GS Humanity Fund? Pay yourselves less over the short term to invest in our collective future. I have lots of ideas and I hope you all do to. If you want to talk about them, call me.

It is time to get creative and unleash human potential. It is time to think less of self-interest and more of the greater good. It is time for leaders to step up and for the every day Joe and Jane to demand that they do or boot them out of there. If it is not now then when?

Have a great Sunday................

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My 45th Birthday....................

What is there to say about turning 45, except ....... at least it is not 50! Ha ha.... My forties have truly been the best 5 years yet and I thank my family and friends for making it another year to remember. I got my share of Wonder Woman Cards this year and one of my fav presents was WW Season Two on DVD. ( thank you Laura and Allie) My next fav one was a shelf/bookholder/clockstand that my son made for me with writing all over it... which we now affectionately call the "Mom Shrine." For anyone who asks me "Jacki, what would you like as a present?" My answer, anything with a PEACE sign on it, or anything Wonder Woman. That makes gift giving very easy. Thanks to all those who sent good wishes. Thank you.
I do have to share with you what my daughter wrote in her card. We had this tradition of hand made cards that I love. She said - "When I think of you I think of love, peace, happiness, New York, Financial Crisis, fun, friends, Canada, and saving Women!" Who says kids do not pay attention?
This weekend I will be back telling you about the two days spent at the 2009 World Business Forum in NY ( Bill Clinton, Paul Krugman, Jeff Sachs.....) , and my dinner with the legendary Nouriel Roubini. It has been a week of major moves in the currency which I have been writing about for some time. There have been some particularly though provoking OPEDS of late which I will direct your attention to. For now it off to enjoy the last few hours of my birthday with my truly amazing husband. God Bless you all...........

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Unemployment, Meredity Whitney, and more....

Well for anyone waiting for good news about the economy they did not get it yesterday with the unemployment report. “Payrolls shrunk by 263,000 from the previous month.” ( 175,000 was the street estimate) Ok, now get ready. The total number of people that have lost their jobs since the recession began is million and the total number of people on assistance is 15.1 million. Barrons goes on to talk about what they consider a better estimate of unemployment which includes part-timers and more and that number is 17%. ( read the full story here in Alan Abelson’s column) Bottom line they continue to deliver a bearish economic rant and I would have to agree.

I would encourage you to read a piece by Meredith Whitney (pictured hear) that appeared in the journal on Friday. She opens this way – “Anyone counting on a meaningful economic recovery will be greatly disappointed. How do I know? I follow credit.” ( read the full piece here) Her argument is that small businesses cannot get financing, and this is a huge problem. “In the US small businesses employ 50% of the country’s workforce and contribute 38% to GDP. Without access to credit, small businesses can’t grow, can’t hire, and too often end up going out of business…”

You know my friend was beating me up the other day saying that I am a perma bear and have missed the boat. My response was this, I have been and do remain very bearish on the ECONOMY but my view on the markets ( equity, credit and currency) has actually been highly variable. There is a difference. Just because you are negative on the economy does not mean you cannot be positive on the markets as it depends on what news you feel is build in to the market. Right now, I am negative on US equities, credit spreads generally, and the US dollar, but I have not been that way all year. March was clearly a buying opportunity as so much negative news was priced in, but that, I believe, is not the case now. Also just because markets get ‘cheap’ does not necessarily mean one should ‘buy’ as it truly depends how much of your assets are already invested. What I have learned about myself is that I invest with a macro view, and when that macro view is negative, I have a hard time buying risky assets even if they look “cheap.” Too many years of trading bonds I guess…..

Next week I will be attending the World Business Forum in NY featuring the likes of Bill Clinton, Jeff Sachs, Warren Buffet, and more. I am also attending a dinner with Nouriel Roubini, also known as Dr. Doom, so I will be reporting back on that as well. Stay tuned and have a nice weekend.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Unemployment was last reported at 9.7%. That number, we know, dramtically understates the real number which most people, including Robert Rubin whom I was very fortunate to have lunch with on Wednesday, think is closer to 15%. John Mauldin in this week's newsletter does a deep dive in to the US employment, or should I say unemployment, situation and is worth a read. If you are not yet a subscriber you should be so click here to become one. ( it is free)

"There are 154,577,000 people in the available work force. We are down almost 8 million jobs since the onset of the recession, and there are almost 15 million people unemployed" in the US. Bottom line from his piece is that we are in a "New Normal" ( a term Bill Gross likes to use as well) and it will take a long, long time to for our economy to recover.