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.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Michael Jackson with Akon

It is Friday afternoon and what a better way to start off the weekend then to listen to an amazing song. CLICK here for the link to watch it on YOUTUBE! Get ready to pop out of your chair and dance. It is a wonderful tribute to an amazing performer. Michael - may you have found peace. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"The New Girl Power" - Center Stage at CGI

Ok.. if you want even more validation about this being the time, the moment, to INVEST in WOMEN and GIRLs read this about what is happening this week at the Clinton Global Initiative. " Former President Bill Clinton connected all the dots: “I think empowering women is central to what the world has to do in the 21st century,” he said flatly, introducing the panel on “Investing in Women and Children” at the Clinton Global Initiative’s second day of meetings in New York City." My heart is pounding so hard I can barely type. This is a must read article on the Daily Beast and thank you Lynn Sherr for writing it. It is so important to have men, and not just women, send this message and more importantly, to act upon it. There is so much evidence that empowering women and girls is the way to improve what ails this world and the story is now being told in the highest of places.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sheryl WuDunn, 85 Broads and Gender Balance

I once read this self-help book, well actually I just skimmed it, called “Let Your Life Speak, Listening to the Voice of Vocation” by Parker J. Palmer. The author suggests that when you are in the ‘right job’ the job you are called in to doing, you will just know it. It will feel like what is inside is connected to what you put out in to the world and you will feel the difference you are making. I have to say that at various times over my fourteen year career at Goldman Sachs, I felt that way, and I feel so privileged to be feeling that way again now.

My work is primarily about bringing attention, ideas and solutions to the issue of creating gender balance in this world. This is also the work of many other people, including Sheryl WuDunn. Sheryl is a Pulitzer Prize winning author, alongside her husband and writer, Nic Kristof. Their book, as I have written about before is “Half The Sky – Turning Oppression in to Opportunity for Women Worldwide.” We, that means YOU if you are reading this, MUST MAKE THIS BOOK A BEST SELLER. Must. Why? Because this book, like so many others on this topic, MATTER. This book both tells stories and articulates the reasons why empowering women can do more do change the world for the better than anything, ANYTHING, else we can do. The most beautiful thing is that we can all do something. This is beyond sending money to fund girls education, this is standing up in the places that we are - in our homes, in our communities, in our places of work – to gender inequities and collectively serve to hold women and girls back from being full participants in our society.

This is NOT about being anti-male. This is not about women taking over the world. This is about creating a world where everyone - man, woman and child - have the opportunity and access to reach their potential. We all win in that world. We all do…

If you are in New York come and listen to Sheryl WuDunn on October 8th with 85 BROADS. 85 BROADS is an amazing network of women around the world created by Janet Hanson. If you are not a member already consider joining. MEN are totally welcome at this event, and I encourage them to go. So often men either feel or are excluded from important conversations like this one, so please, if you are reading this and are in the city, go. Bring a friend. This movement is not a Womens Movement; it is a Movement towards Gender Balance.

PS - I have been wanting to write more about couples. About the importance and the power of two people working together, side by side, on issues they care about. Think of how few role model couples we have out there. We need more. Lots more. Why? They model the change we need to see in the world. Sheryl and Nic are to me such an exceptional example of that. Exceptional. READ this about my own couplehood - Brokenness, Hope and Women and why I believe gender balance in the home, is a model for the world.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

WOMENSPHERE - "Investing In Women" Event

It is not too late to sign-up for what is surely going to be a great discussion on Monday night in New York City. I am honored to on an ALL STAR panel which included Jennifer Buffett - Chair and C0-Founder of the Novo Foundation, Chris Grumm - President of the Women's Funding Network and more... Click here for more information.

The L.I.V.E. World Summit is a unique and powerful gathering of leaders from all sectors and disciplines – industry leaders, thought leaders, innovators, corporate executives, government leaders, entrepreneurs, community leaders, and social entrepreneurs. This is one of many events so please check out the link for more information.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Housing Market - Again....and again....

Yesterday in the Wall Street Journal there was a fascinating and very important front page article on the state of the housing market. ( "No Easy Exit for Government as Housing Market's Savior") Here are my important take-aways from that piece.
- FHA mortages were once 20% or orgination and are now 80% ( what kind of loans are there? "loans to borrowers who cannot afford a big down payment")

- The government just published a 51 page report "detailing rescue programs that are slowly getting scaled back..housing is not one of them."

- Fannie and Freddie ( now under ' full ' government supervision) combined have own or guarantee $5.4 trillion of mortgage loans.

- US Housing prices are down 30% from the peak. ( now reread the part about Fannie and Freddie above)

- Since the start of the year the FED has purchased $836 billion of mortgage backed securities with a target of $1.45 trillion. ( including some FN and FH debt)

- the program to subsidize first home buyers has brought them in, like the cash for clunkers program, but that is soon over. ( pushed demand forward)

- and ok here is about the only good news - sales of exisiting homes is up 17%.

So here is the problem and why I just cannot believe that a meaningful economic recovery is close at hand. The financial crisis was triggered primarily because low credit quality borrowers started defaulting on their mortgages( sub -prime). Those default rates are now off the charts and hundreds of billions of losses have materialized. Now here is the punch line - What we have experienced is the first WAVE of losses and there is much much more to come. ( Alt A loans, option ARMS hitting resets, higher quality residential mortages, commercial loans, credit card loans and more )

I think about it like this. If the US economy is an airplane it crashed last fall. The government fixed the plane enough to get it back in the air. ( see 51 page report on what they did ) Now it is in the air flying at low altitude and the government is trying to blanket the ground with pillows. The main ones are buying mortgages from the open market ( to drive down rates), providing loans to borrowers where they have control ( FHA), trying to encourage ( force) banks to modify loans, and investment encouragement programs (?? which I think failed??? giving cheap money to hedge funds to buy loans). This may, MAY be enough to keep the plane in the air but the risk of it crashing to the ground and through that layer of pillows remains very high indeed.

The housing market led us in the this crisis and it will have to lead us out.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

CBS Evening News - "Does Wall Street Need More Women?"

The segment on the "Women in Fund Management Report" aired tonight on CBS Evening News! I big thank you to Kelly Wallace and the producers at CBS.

Click HERE to see the segment, to read the transcript and to leave a comment on the CBS site. ( especially if it is a nice one!!)

"If there had been a critical mass of women over a period of time at the decision-making tables, would we be in the place that we are in today? I don't think so," Zehner said.

Let me say it again. I truly don't think so. This in one woman's opinion and last time I checked everyone is entitled to one and I am proud to say mine is based on a lot of evidence. (sorry I am a little cranky about some of the mean, unsupported comments I received) For those who disagree I would love to see their report that would suggest otherwise. I showed you my evidence, now please, show me yours.

The reality is we will never know if the "greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression" could have been either avoided or tempered if we had more balanced board rooms, risk management teams and leadership. We will never know. But can we all please agree, at least, that those in power did not do that great of a job? Can we please just acknowledge that it is a fact that the vast majority of people in decision making seats are men and perhaps, just perhaps that by adding women - smart women, wise women, insightful women - in critical mass, we might improve the quality of decision making. I am not saying women are smarter then men, or more moral, or or.... what I am saying is that diversity of thinking, of perspective, of backgrounds improves decision making. Read the evidence. This is not 'feminist propoganda' as one person commented, this is logical. It makes sense.

For the record.............
I believe in a more balanced world and not one were our collective futures are being shaped by those that represent only 1/2 of the population. I believe there are smart, talented men AND women and both deserve to have their seat at the table. I believe we have the hope of a better future if the best minds are asked to solve our world's problems and not just the best minds that are part of the 'club' or of one gender.
A heartfelt thank you to CBS for putting this evidence out there in the world and for allowing one women with a deep passion for gender balance, to share her views.

Monday, September 7, 2009

CBS EVening News plus Alan Abelson on Unemployment

Thank you to those who might have turned in to CBS Evening News on Friday and of course did not see the segment on the lack of women on wall street. It got bumped. It should air this week and rather then blast around another email to announce it, I will wait and send around the link. CBS has been GREAT and I thank them again for their interest in the story.

One of my favorite reads every week is the editorial by Alan Abelson in Barrons. I have been reading it since my first days at Goldman in the 80's. This week he provides some sympathy for the Bears out there and provides a very funny and enlightening commentary about the unemployment report. ( read it here)

He first takes issue with the birth/death ratio which has always been troublesome to me, then he moves on to dissect the report. "The most that can be said for it is that it wasn't as awful as the previous month's-except that the unemployment rate jumped to 9.7%, the highest in 30 years....Some 466,000 unfortunanates got the ax and there are now 14.9 million people out of work, 7.4 million of whom have lost their jobs since the recession began in Deceomber 2007."

Another issue which he addresses is the fact that this recession is being labled a 'mancession.' I spoke to this issue earlier in the year on CNN after an unemployment number came out showing that men are disproportionately losing their jobs relative to women. One of the reasons is of course the fact that the industries being hit the hardlest were construction and finance, male dominated fields, but the issue is much deeper as Mr. Abelson points out. He suggests that the growing participation of women in the workplace is part of a "long term trend, and we suspect that its recent acceleration reflects a fact of economic life, namely that women are still paid less and tend to occupy less remunerative jobs. A perverse advantage during a recession as to who gets fired and who does not." Perverse indeed.
The underemployment of women is an important economic issue going forward, as is the inequality in pay, and I worry both this issues are not getting addressed appropriately in the recovery plan. Both government and private companies must not lose focus on their long term human capital management strategies, especially as it relates to hiring, retaining and promoting women. With women now "50% of the workforce", 60% ish of undergrads, and the ones who make the vast majority of purchasing decisions, male dominated companies stand to lose if they do not adopt more equitable and inclusive business practises.

My last fav quote comes on page 14 of Barrons and it is from David Rosenberg from Gluskin Sheff, also commenting on the unemployment report and the recent stock market rally, "namely the 50% rally in the face of a 30% decline in earnings from earlier estimates." He says" I'm not being purposely bearish," he says of his caution. "I view it as almost a public service."

Have a great day. PS - Keep watching the US dollar. Big moves happening... Gold too.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Krugman on What Economists Need to Do, Unemployment and TONIGHT ON CBS EVENING NEWS!

Though I remain annoyed with Mr. Krugman over his ridiculous piece on Goldman Sachs, (click here for my rant) here is his latest deep dive in to the problems with the economists. It is a great read as it summarizes much economic theory that drives policy decisions and offers insight about why the powers that be failed to anticipate and react appropriately to the financial crisis. ( see piece from yesterday). His conclusions are….

“So here’s what I think economists have to do. First, they have to face up to the inconvenient reality that financial markets fall far short of perfection, that they are subject to extraordinary delusions and the madness of crowds. ( great book by the way – JZ) Second, they have to admit — and this will be very hard for the people who giggled and whispered over Keynes — that Keynesian economics remains the best framework we have for making sense of recessions and depressions. Third, they’ll have to do their best to incorporate the realities of finance into macroeconomics.”
Here is what else they have to do - Listen to women - and in particular Anna Schwartz. If I had to pick 5 people to have dinner with, she would be on it! Google her. Read about her and her work. One of her latest opeds in the WSJ. She should have been on Hank Paulson's call list....
Next - Unemployment rate jumps to 9.7%, job losses only 216,000 - and yet the press is saying "signs emerged that the recession is ending." Last time I checked job losses are a bad sign. Read more from BLOOMBERG here which also has a quote from one of my favorite economists - David Rosenberg who was one of the few that called the financial crisis. When David says we are recovering, I will listen.
Last - TONIGHT on CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, there will be a segment on the "Women in Fund Management Paper" which will consider the question "If there were more women on Wall Street and in Finance in general - would we be in this mess?" I am honored to be featured in this piece though I have to say... I am a little nervous as of course I have not seen it! Working with the crew was a complete honor and I want to thank all of them, and especially Kelly Wallace, for being so fabulous! Thanks for bringing this issue - the lack of women in finance and what we can do about it - to broad attention. Click here to access the research from the National Council for Research on Women. There will be a link to the segment available after it airs.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

“Henry Paulson’s Longest Night”

The newly released Vanity Fair Magazine contains a very interesting feature on Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. Author Todd Purdum had unique access to Mr. Paulson over his tenure with the promise not to release any information until it was over. This article provides an inside perspective behind Mr. Paulson’s thinking during that period. What is clear is that the man worked very hard and did the best he could. What was missing for me in this article was his full acknowledgement and explanation of how he, the Treasury, the administration failed to diagnose the problems so much earlier.

This is all rather personal. I worked at Goldman Sachs for 14 years and the last 2 of those was spent in the executive office reporting to the senior leadership of the firm, including Hank, reporting to him on all areas related to human capital management. I knew him, and he had become Treasury Secretary during a period of unprecedented economic crisis. I knew him, and he was telling me, telling us at the beginning of 2008 that everything was ok. I was so outraged that my first oped ever, published in The HuffingtonPost, was directed straight at him and was called “The Confidence Man.” In that piece I (we) said this....

"Today's ( Jan 18th - 2008) announcement by U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is but the latest effort by the current administration to downplay the severity of the current economic crisis. In the grand old American tradition of hucksterism, Paulson's prescription is a sorely misleading sell.

It's time to wake up and smell the economy. Sadly, there's no short and easy fix to the longer-term problems created by excessive borrowing combined with rampant consumerism. Yet Paulson insists (White House Stimulus Fact Sheet, Jan. 18, 12:03pm,, "By passing an effective growth package quickly, we can provide a shot in the arm to keep our fundamentally strong economy healthy and help keep instability in the housing and financial markets from more adversely affecting the overall economy." Believing the economy to be grounded on a "solid foundation," Paulson is ignoring the walls falling down. "

To this day I do not understand what he, what they, were thinking. How could they possibly not have seen how bad it was going to be? I went on to write a number of opinion pieces ( see Huffpo pieces on the right) directed to our administration and specifically Hank, finally ending with this one – “Dear Hank – A Letter to the Departing Treasury Secretary.” Do I think Hank did a good job? At the beginning, no, towards the end I believe he did the best he could and did in fact prevent a collapse of the system which could have happened.

The problems facing our country are far, far from over. This article leaves me deeply troubled that the nature of our political system means finding and implementing solutions will be tough in deed. Finding the best people to do serve in governmental roles will also continue to be very difficult. We may be out of the heart of the fire but the embers continue to burn. Now more than ever we need strong, courageous leaders that understand the political process but more importantly can and will fight for the right long term solutions. I know... I’m dreaming............