Saturday, February 28, 2009

Toilet Anyone?

Wednesday night at about 1 in the morning I could not get to the object on the left fast enough. I am not sure if I had a touch of the flu, I was stresssed to the max, I was suffering from lack of sleep, I drank too much coffee... or now I am thinking my stomach was processing what my brain would soon have to....... the budget of President Obama and the latest round of US economic data. I have felt sick to my stomach ever since. The sad thing is everyone I talk to seems to be feeling the same way.
I mean yes, in an ideal world I would love to have a vibrant source of clean energy, education for all, health care for all but right now I think the President should be paying most of his attention to the economy. The economic (lack of) growth data announced on Friday was shockingly bad. The unemployment data? A disaster. GM reported (lack of) earnings? A nightmare. Billions more for Citi, Fannie and AIG. Honestly, although I told people watching CNN on Wednesday morning that they have to get their heads out of the sand if they think things are going to be 'ok' I think I am ready to put mine back in. I could write and write and write and write but it is afterall Saturday night and my kids want me back on the couch to watch Harry Potter. What could be better then that?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Transcript from CNN Live This Am! PursePundit Debuts and CNN!

I had the most amazing time on CNN this morning and they invited be back tomorrow... 6 am and 8 am. I am keeping my fingers crossed that they ask me to comment on Leadership and Investing in Women - two that you all know I am passionate about! Thanks to all my dear friends who have continued to support me on this journey in to the media world....

ROBERTS: Welcome back to the "Most News in the Morning." That view from one of our iReporters underscores America's economic crisis. This morning, we're hearing what Main Street thinks of the president's recovery plan. And we're talking with some of the sharpest economic minds in the country about what it means to you and your financial future.Economist Diane Swonk joins us this morning from Chicago, and here in New York investment adviser Ryan Mack and Jacki Zehner, founding partner of the Circle Financial Group.We welcome you, Jacki, for the very first time.JACKI ZEHNER, FOUNDING PARTNER, CIRCLE FINANCIAL GROUP:

ROBERTS: Let's go to you, first. And let me preface this by highlighting here a comment that was sent in to us by a viewer. Dave in Omaha, Nebraska, writes to us this morning and says, "Although the meat of the speech was very hopeful, I felt it was more like a pep rally. The only thing missing was the band and the cheerleaders. I still want to know how we will pay off this debt, how is this administration putting people back to work, and why do I have to help someone pay -- why do I have to help pay else's mortgage? I feel this was not addressed."These are questions, Jacki, a lot of people are asking today.

ZEHNER: Those are really good questions. I actually think Nancy Pelosi was their cheerleading. I think all that was missing were the pompoms. But those are all my questions. It was a pep ralley. I like talking about hope and possibility, and I think the world needed that message and the markets so far are responding. He said, I'm in control. I'm going to do something, but what's the something?And actually, I thought he missed a big opportunity to talk about investing in America and a broader basis than just talking about Wall Street and the negatives of Wall Street. I think there's a much broader conversation that we can have about small business, about female entrepreneurship, about financial literacy, about a broad-based conversation about investment. And that was really missing.

ROBERTS: What do you think about all of that, Diane, because typically these addresses whether they be just to a joint session of Congress or whether they be actually titled a State of the Union Address, which is next one will be, are usually about grand themes and broad brush strokes. The details come later.

DIANE SWONK, ECONOMIST: Exactly. I think actually what impressed me was the one-two punch. Ben Bernanke was on his "A" game yesterday. And he really dealt with a lot of these issues earlier in the day in great detail. It was actually one of the most insightful, which doesn't say a lot.Q&A sessions that Congress has ever had with Ben Bernanke. But these senators actually finally got it. And I think that laid the groundwork. One of the comments that Ben Bernanke gave in response to that very issue on foreclosures, he said, you know, you could punish your next-door neighbor for smoking in bed by, you know, not calling the fire department when his home caught on fire, but if it burned down the whole neighborhood, how much does it help you?And I think that analogy is very important. And that's what the president has got to bring, is that analogy that we're on the same boat, and unless we're all in the same boat with our oars in the water rowing towards the same destination, we're all going to sink the boat.

ROBERTS: Ryan, let's turn this one toward you. Carolina, in *, Florida writes this this morning and says, quote, "After Obama's speech, I feel confident that he will bring us out of this economic mess. I was happy to hear some positive comments rather than all the doom and gloom that the American people are constantly being bombarded with. Thank God we have a new administration."Was it an appropriate amount of optimism that the president exceeded last night?

RYAN MACK, PRESIDENT, OPTIMUM CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: I think it was great optimism. I think that his direction was very -- very optimistic and very happy about what tomorrow actually holds.One of the striking things he said, we are also suffering a deficit of trust. I think that in previous administrations, a lot of individuals had lost trust with an administration, so that actually leads to a lack of confidence in the leadership of this country. And him coming in and actually going back and talking about things about the GI bill, sent a generation of college students made the largest middle-class in history.So I want to have by 20-20 had the highest proportion of college graduates in this country. But then the devil is in the details. I'm going to put $31 billion in college affordability and Pell Grants and tax credits to make sure that individuals are going to school. And he also said, you know, enough of this not graduating from high school, you know? It's on you. We have to graduate from high school and make sure we're getting our...(CROSSTALK)

ROBERTS: That's an interesting part of the speech. But, Jacki, just in terms of this optimism, just saying it doesn't necessarily make it so. He's got a lot of work to do to actually get these programs into practice.

ZEHNER: Absolutely. But we also have a lot of work to do too. I love the messages about personal responsibility because at the end of the day, and this is my favorite quote, which I repeat again and again, "do what you can with what you have where you are". I think he has to empower people to be part of the solution, not wait for government to solve all our problems because they can't. And he said that, but I really wanted the exclamation marks behind that. I really did, because those are the conversations I'm having. People need to get together, share their problems, share solutions.Ryan and I spoke a lot about financial literacy, doing financial preparedness. You cannot have your head in the sand about this anymore. It's not going to get better overnight, but it is about people coming together, talking through problems, offering each other solutions, supporting one another in business, helping out. You can't -- we can't -- walk around like this( hands up and open) waiting for this the government hand-outs. It's just not going to happen. There's not enough money and we're selling our children's future.

Jacki, thanks for joining us this morning.ZEHNER: Thank you.ROBERTS: Great to have you here for the first time.ZEHNER: Thank you.ROBERTS: We'll get you back as well as Ryan.ZEHNER: Thank you. Thank you very much.

CNN - My First Appearance!

I am about to jump in a car to head to CNN in New York City to participate in a panel discussion on "American Morning!" Thanks to the Womens Media Center for creating this opportunity for me! I will be on sometime between 8 and 9 am. The panel will discuss last night's Presidential Address and I am beyond honored to be a part of this important debate.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"China's Dollar Dilema" , and Once Again, Financial Preparedness

I cannot tell you how often the issue on the top of my economic and financial worry list, within short order, is the feature article in the Financial Times! I keep worrying the world, particularly China, is going to stop buying ( or start selling ) US Treasuries. Things are already bad, very bad, and not getting any fundamentally better any time soon, but this debt thing is a big problem. I am sorry but I do find it ironic that at the same time we are telling individuals that they were irresponsible and need to work hard to pay down debt, the leadership of this country is doing the opposite on a historic scale. I do understand the many arguments why we NEED to spend out way out of a problem caused by too much spending, but it is still ironic. My husband has been talking about the "China Issue" forever and this article summarizes the key points he has been talking about it a very worthwhile read. He thinks one of the answers is for them to buy GOLD - a lot of it. Who knows, maybe they already are.

The financial markets? I have continually written about the deleveraging process that has taken hold. It is not over and will not be until asset prices find some sort of bottom. What will it take to find a bottom? Consider reading these two pieces (below) by folks a lot smarter and more connectect than I am. Oh... and they also make more money, at this point, likely more than any other person on the planet. What YOU CAN DO is basic financial prepardness. On how to do it, click here. Please consider sending that link around to everyone you know that you think needs help during this historic and difficult times.

The reads.......

Bill Gross of PIMCO - BEEP BEEP. Paul McCulley - Saving Banking.

(if you did read Bill's piece click here... maybe Bill should hire me?)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

This Has to End! It Has to - Violence Against Women and Children

Why do we care? Why do we do what we do to try to make the world a better place? Why, for me, is about women and girls? Why do I believe that the world would be a more just and equitable place if women and girls were treated in a more just and equitable way? Because I believe in the GIRL EFFECT. Because you can extend that in to the WOMEN EFFECT which is the paradigm embraced by the Womens Funding Network and many, many many more organizations such as CARE. Click on both to learn more. I believe with my whole heart the power of investing in women and girls.

This weekend I was stopped in my tracks when I read this piece, The Invisible War, by Bob Herbert in the New York Times. We have heard these stories about rape and torture of innocent women and children but have we truly paid attention to them? Even if we do pay attention, what do we do with that? We have to do something. We have to. We just have to. This has to end. Violence against women and children has to end. Read it.

Ok now what you ask? Here is a list.

1) Write a letter to the New York Times and Bob Herbert thanking them for bringing awareness to this ongoing tragedy and ask them to do more. Write lots of letters.

2) Donate to VDAY and write Eve Ensler to thank her for the work she does in the world to bring the issue of violence against women from the private to the public space and more. Ask your friends to donate too.

3) Plan a PEACE Party to help bring awareness and to bring an end violence. I had mine two weeks ago, in support of Lamont Hiebert and his work in the world. Use your own creative ideas to bring people together to raise awareness and raise money.

4) Call your local domestic violence crisis center and ask what you can do to help. Volunteer.

Thanks for reading and thank you for being a person who cares.
As I put this to print I am watching Slumdog Millionaire win best picture - I LOVE IT!! This was the best movie I saw in a long time and here is why. It is a story about hope and possibility and it is exactly the right way to end this entry.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Nouriel Roubini for Treasury Secretary!!!! Plus..Canadian Banks

For those of you who do not Nouriel, you must, I am sorry to say.. have your head in the sand. Nouriel, or "Dr. Doom" as the press has chosen to call him, is an NYU economist and head of RGE Monitor, that has become famous for having been right on for years about what is going on in our economy. I had the pleasure last fall of attending a small group dinner with Nouriel following a discussion with him, George Soros and Jeff Sachs at Columbia University and let me tell you this is one smart and practical dude. I have since become a paid subscriber to his economic information and it is exceptional. I just finished reading an interview with him in this weekends journal and it is a must read. He calls to "'Nationalize'" the Banks" and though I personally am not sure that is the right thing to do, I trust this guy has done his homework and sees it as the only solution. In the interiew he says this - "Between guarantees, liquidity support, and capitalization, the governement has provided between $7 trillion to $9 trillion of help to the financial system." Though that is mind-blowing, the sad reality is that we are no where close to done. No where close. The government must take some action that gives the world some sense that they know what the heck they are doing. So far, in my opinion, the new administration has failed to deliver.

If you want an idea of what a healthy banking system looks like just look north of the border to Canada. Take a look at this FT piece "Canada Banks prove envy of the world" for the right long term model.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Another Historic Day - Equity Markets Move Below Fall 08 Lows

Another historic day yesterday as the US equity markets tumbled to a 6 year low falling through the previous bottom set November 20th of last year. With the DOW now at 7466 and the S & P at 779, levels not seen since 2002, one has to worry that we will remain in a shaky state for some time to come.

The why is well summarize by a question asked by Robert Zoelick, the World Bank President, in Thursdays FT – “What started as a financial crisis, become an economic crisis, is now becoming an unemployment crisis – and to what degree does it become a human and social crisis?”

I cannot help but reflect back to when I started blogging at the beginning of last year BECAUSE I felt we were entering a historic period for the US and global financial markets and I needed a way to share my opinions and more. At this moment I am just so angry. I am angry because of how long the ‘powers that be’ denied that there were any real problems to worry about. I am angry because at the time the government’s solutions to what few problems they acknowledged were to suggest we should just keep shopping. I am angry about years and years of people (including me ) just failing to do the right ( and often difficult) things. I have been an unwavering bear, A Mrs. Doom to Nouriel Roubini’s Dr. Doom, and yet at this moment I feel I did not do enough to help protect others and be part of the solution.

This is not about the level of the stock market. This is about who we are as people. This is about how we view ourselves, our role's in society and our obligation or lack thereof to care about the common good and take personal responsibility to do our best to keep our world, as well as our own life, on a positive trajectory.

Why I am being so self-reflective early this morning? Because in a few hours I have to speak to a roomful of incredible business leaders about these issues. About corporate ethics. Though I am long since a partner of Goldman Sachs where I had the huge personal responsibility to be a culture driver and carrier I am still that everywhere I go. For 14 years my space was primarily GS, and now it is other spaces and places but the obligation remains the same. As a leader, as a citizen of this planet, I feel strongly that I have an obligation to serve the common good and not just what is good for me. At the heart of it I think that is what is wrong with America, perhaps the world.

I need to add a few articles that I have clipped over the past couple of days mainly because I love saving them in a place where I can easily access them again down the line. If you are not yet a subscriber to Naked Capitalism I would highly suggest it… everyday some of the best business writings from multiple sources are collected and sent to you in one email… love it and thanks.

From the WSJ

A short History of the National Debt” by John Steele Gordon – He gives some great history on government deficitis.
Synchronized Boom, Synchronized Bust” by Marc Faber – Mark manages money and I follow is thinking in Barrons. He was featured in this year’s roundtable and I agreed with most of what he had to say. This article walks through the financial meltdown in easy in a very straightforward way.
There is Virtue in Geithners Vague Bank Plan” by Nouriel Roubini and Matthew Richardson– basically argues that the many US banks will be nationalized.

From the FT

Japanese Lessons for a World of Balance Sheet Deflation” by Martin Wolf. I love the FT opeds in general and this one highlights the indebtedness of the world.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Feeling Down? Volunteer.

I am back from a week in Arizona where I attended a Womens Funding Network Board meeting and spent some great one on one time with my 8 year old daughter. The downturn has definitely hit there with for rent and for sale signs everywhere.... everywhere. Our hotel was very quiet until the masses hit for NBA Allstar Weekend. The wives of many players have organized in to a philanthropic group called "Behind the Bench" and their annual fundraiser around this weekend benefited WFN. Many thanks!

Though there is MUCH to say about this weeks economic and financial news I am choosing an upbeat post thanks to Sylvia Ann Hewlett. I am honored to serve on her board, The Center For Work Life Policy. Not only is volunteering a good thing for the world, it is also a good thing for your health. If you need help finding a place to give your time please visit the brand new site created by our brand new President -

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Abelson, Fiscal Stimulus, Bridgewater, Nicholas Kristof and Women!

Live from Phoenix! Alan Abelson from Barron’s yet again gives a great summary of the week’s economic activity. His focus is appopriately on the job report released Friday, reporting 598,000 lost this past month bringing the headline number to 7.6%, a 16 year high. It feels more like the other number he highlights, something called the U-6 which included the ‘entire lot of folks who can’t find a job”, which is at 13.9%. “The stock market reacted to this employment report from hell just as you might expect. It staged a jolly rally.” Why? I guess because it was so bad that the government seems sure to pass the massive stimulus package. Which I guess they just did…I believe this bounce, and ones that will follow in the short term, will not last...

The stimulus package. I know we must spend money to help the tumbling economy, and actually I just heard over my shoulder on CNN President Obama say ‘it is only the government that can break the cycle” of this downward spirally economy, but I am deeply worried about how wasteful this package has the potential to be. We are spending our future. Let’s be clear about this. We are borrowing from tomorrow, from future revenues, to try to make things better today. There is no free lunch.

Bridgewater. For a rare, thoughtful, insightful and relevant interview with one of the smartest investment minds out there, click here. Ray Dalio, the CIO of Bridgewater Associates, in the piece “Recession? NO, It’s a D-process, and It Will Be Long” he shares why this time it is different, and why not to expect a quick and easy recovery no matter what the government does. At the end of the day the ‘government is going to print money.” He suggests that this has to end in currency devaluation, which is not in this case a bad thing. He is positive on gold, the yen, and ends with this. “Buying equities and taking on those risks in late 2009, or more likely 2010, will be a great move because equities will b e much cheaper than now. It is going to be the buying opportunity of the century.”

I am saving the best for last. I cannot begin to tell you how many people forwarded me this piece by Nicolas Kristof (pictured) called “Mistresses of the Universe.” You go Nic!!!! I could not agree more. Of note is that together with the National Council for Research on Women we are about to release a paper on exactly this topic!!! This has been a three year project and we are beyond excited about it. The question we asked? Why are there not more women in professional trading and portfolio management roles? We can stretch that even further and ask why is that women do not more equally share in power and decision making? If you are a regular reader you KNOW that I completely believe that we need a world where women and men more equally share in power. So much so that last night I actually dreamt about it. In my sleep I was asking myself this question. Why is it NOW that women are going claim their space as leaders and decision makers? Why now? In the middle of the night I woke up, grabbed a piece of paper, and wrote this – “Because we are ready. We are ready.” I swear with my hand on the hotel bible that this happened. I know it, in my bones, that women are ready to be part of the solution. Women are ready to be major players in this world, to work collectively with good men to make this world a better place. How do we do this? “By doing what we can, with what we have, where we are” ….. then doing more. At the end of the day however it is about women being in places we need to be in critical mass. It is only then that we will know what women’s leadership and women’s led solutions look like. Thank you Nicholas for all your brilliant writing on topics that deeply matter to me.

An excerpt from the piece I wrote called "Why are Goldman's Women Invisible?"

Might this be one of many factors contributing to what is wrong with Wall Street leadership today? Arguably at this moment of financial and economic crisis, after approximately $10 trillion dollars of global wealth has vanished, women remain virtually absent at the decision-making tables that count. For all those men who sat around thinking they were the "smartest guys in the room", is it not time to ask "what could we have done differently?" Could the difference possibly have been a critical mass of women? We will never know. Sure you can name a couple of women, but that is just it, a couple? It takes critical mass to know what women's presence and leadership looks and feels like, and we could sure use that data right about now. Don't call Goldman looking for that information though as they do not have it.

My piece Brokenness, Hope and Women from HUFFPO on the topic as well.

This may be my last post for a few days and there are so many things I want to write I think my head is going to explode. I am going to spend some quality time with my 8 year old daughter Allie and then attend the Womens Funding Network board meeting here....

Saturday, February 7, 2009

It is ALL about PEACE!!!

I am so excited! We are 1 1/2 hours away from our PEACE PARTY! My dear friend Lamont Hiebert is here with his band Ten Shekel Shirt and they are going to rock the house. We are raising funds to bring his beautiful and restorative song FRAGILE to video and/or for LOVE 146 that is working to abolition for sex slavery and exploitation. ( he is a founder) Watch the video sketch here. Buy the CD here. Please consider supporting Lamont and his incredible work to help bring PEACE to the world!

I am leaving before dawn for ARIZONA to meet up with my family, spend time with my daughter, and attend a Womens Funding Network Board Meeting. I will try to blog for there.. but just in case. Have a GREAT week...

One quick note - I had the honor of speaking at an event all about EMPOWERMENT for the Stern Women in Business. You all rock and I wish you all the very best. Sign up for my newsletter if I you are visiting for the first time.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Brokenness, Hope and Women!!! - REVISTED.....

I have been having many conversations about the financial markets being broken, the economy being broken, corporate business models being broken, corporate diversity programs being broken.... I went back and read this piece I wrote in DECEMBER ( on Huffington Post)- a piece of which is below... I want to put it back out there as a framework to what could be different the next time around....

"So much has to change in order for ours to be a more just and equitable world, and that change must occur in all levels of society for it to be sustainable. This theory of change is well summarized in the work of the Women's Funding Network which argues that "a bottom up belief that the whole community cannot be improved or changed without the full participation of women and girls and the full participation of women and girls cannot be achieved without bringing women and girls from the margins in to the mainstream."

We can talk about new appointments and new administrations, but it is in valuing men and women, boys and girls equally and in enabling their full participation in society, that we will set the course for the positive change we need to see in our families and our public and private institutions.

In Washington, as we witness this changing of the guard and hope that better decisions will be made, let us drive change elsewhere, in all realms of our society, from where we each stand. Where leadership is not diverse, strive it make it so. Where the culture is toxic, commit to changing it. Where talent is being underutilized, develop programs to change that. The solutions are there but what is missing, often, is the will, the commitment, to see such change through. What is missing is the equitable participation of women as solutions are being enacted. This is the message I delivered yesterday to over 200 women and if you can pull together a group of 200 interested men, call me, and I will deliver the message to them too. This is a world view when good men and good men both win. Do you see a broken world? If yes, then begin to see the world differently and then move forward to make the world different. Invest in women and girls. The time for real change is now."

It is so NOW....

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Dear Diary plus..."Did You Know?......."

I have to admit I am feeling a little overwhelmed today. Perhaps I am reading too much, thinking too hard, pushing myself to 'be the change', trying to find solutions to the world's problems and design business models that can make back some cold hard cash. Besides that we are thinking hard about where in the world ( literally ) we want to live, move, be..... Layer on me breaking out the old movies of when the kids were babes and I quickly realize how quickly time goes by. Married thirteen, had my second child 9 years ago, gone from Goldman since 2002, rounding the corner to age 45......... Also, I have to say, I am just feeling very sad about what a total mess we (the US, the WORLD) are in financially and economically. I started writing over a year ago, logging now over 160 entries and 11 OPEDS, because I thought it was going to be a historical one in the financial markets and I needed to DO SOMETHING bigger then I was already doing. Tell people to look out, be careful and more.... but I truly did not imagine this. This hole is very, very deep and it is so far from over. I told my husband that I am going to make a list of the things I am mad at the world about, mad at myself about, and mad at him about. He is thankful that he was at the end of the list and it was in size order.....

Something must have been in the air because my husband decided to show me ( us - kids included ) this VIDEO called - Did YOU Know????? Most of it, no I didn't and now I feel even more overwhelmed. Time for a nice glass of wine and some SNL reruns....
Question to my readers - Where in the US, then in the WORLD - would you live and work if you could? I know it is a giant pain in the neck to log in and put in a comment... but if you have a sec, would love your thoughts.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Problems With Banks

It seems as if we are to hear what the plan is going to be for the US Banking System as early as this week. My we are in a pickle. Maybe a pickle jar. Maybe a pickle pool. Maybe an ocean of pickels. What is the likely outcome????? I offer to you not my opinion, but those of a smarter bunch then I.

First up is George Soros who wrote a thoughtful piece in the FT last week called "The Right and Wrong Way to Bail Out the Banks." He points a key element of the challenge - "the hard choice facing the Obama administration is between partially nationalising the banks, or leaving them in private hands but nationalising their toxic assets."

Up second is Baseline Scenerio - a blog I have recommended to you before - that will link you to two recent opeds from the FT and the WP - both worth the read.

Will we end of with a Nationalized Banking System? You tell me..........