Sunday, May 31, 2009

Town and Country Philanthropy Issue - and more.....

I love magazines. In fact, I collect them. My basement is full of thousands of them: from Fortune and Fast Company, to Oprah and Architectural Digest. I cannot read one tenth of the number that flow in to this house but it gives me joy knowing there are there in case one day I actually have the time to look at them.

This month one issue came in that I read from cover to cover. It is so of the moment both in terms of what is going on in the world, and what is going in my world, that I felt it was written just for me. It is now my second favorite issue of any magazine of all time. (My first is the 1972 issue of MS Magazine with Wonder Woman on the cover)

What is it you ask? The June issue of Town and Country – The Special Philanthropy Issue. Here are the top 10 reasons why I love it and why I feel it is so relevant this very moment:

1) In an article called “The Upside of the Downside” the wonderful Tracy Gary encourages us to give abundantly despite being in a period of scarcity. “The paradox is that in economic times like there, the opportunities for our humanity to flourish are abundant.” I like that. Buy Tracy's amazing book here.

2) My good friend and author Joanna Krotz wrote a number of features in this issue including some profiles of some of my favorite people on the planet. Her new book “ Town and Country - The Guide to Intelligent Giving” was just released and it is awesome. Click here to buy it for you and ALL your friends. For more on Joanna and her work - click here.

3) JK wrote a piece called “Teach Your Children Well” which offers some great insights about how to start the dialogue about money with your children. If you want to go deeper my fav money book for kids is "Raising Financially Fit Kids" by Joline Godfrey. Click here.

4) JK profiled Jennifer Buffet, an extraordinary woman giver who I have had the pleasure to getting to know through the Women Moving Millions Movement. She is as special as JK’s story says she is and more. Jennifer is committed to the empowerment of girls globally. The Novo Foundation is behind the GIRL EFFECT which if you have not seen and forwarded to everyone you know, you much. Click here to watch. For more on the NOVO foundation - click here.

5) JK profiled a force of nature from Atlanta, Kayrita Anderson, whose story I have been telling on radio programs around the country this past few weeks as part of the Women Moving Millions media outreach. Kayrita and her husband are working to end child prostitution in the state of Atlanta and aspire to share their model with others across the country. To learn more about their work click here.

6) There is an article about helping children in Cambodia, a country I recently travelled to with the American Red Cross. The gorgeous photos of the children took me right back there. That trip proved to be a major catalyst for me in my philanthropic work.

7) JK wrote a piece on Goldman Sach’s Dina Powell, the leader of their 10,000 Women Initiative. I was present last year when they announced this program and I have never been more proud to be affiliated with this firm. Read this piece from Huffpo.

8) They give you a whole list of gorgeous jewelry you can buy that also supports charity. We need to, NEED TO, use our pocketbooks to inspire and enforce the change we want to see in the world. If we buy products that have a cause element, more and more companies will do this. I serve on the board of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and millions of dollars flow in to use because consumers buy products with our logo. Do it more, do it often, and think about how you can do it within your own company.

9) If we want magazines like Town and Country to publish issues like this one we have to buy out the shelves, subscribe, and write a letter to the editor telling them how much we love it. Please do ALL THREE RIGHT NOW! Thank you to Pamela Fiori, Editor in Chief, for creating a space for all these incredible stories.

10) The last reason why I love this issue is because it came out at the same time Women Moving Millions concluded the first leg of their initiative that I am honored to be a part of. They surpassed their goal of raising $150 million in million dollar gifts that will go to Womens Funds around the country and around the world. Many of the women in the issue, including Tracy, Kayrita and Jennifer are donors, and I had them sign their pages along with Helen Lakelly Hunt and Chris Grumm, marking this moment, as being the start of something big. The ‘something’ is women using their collective resources, and especially their money, to drive the change they want to see in the world. This is a movement. This is the Women’s Funding Movement. This is the Women’s Money Movement.
Have a great Sunday. God Bless.................

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Residential Real Estate - My Own View

I have read many places that the economy will not be on solid ground until the problems in the residential real estate market truly begin to sort themselves out. So how close are we to that happening? First let me share a few facts I have picked up from recent readings.

According The Economist magazine, the value of US housing stock is $19 trillion. The value of homeowner’s equity has decreased to $8.4 trillion from $12.5 trillion in 2006. An estimated 10 million Americans are now in a negative equity position on their primary residence. For years as prices were rising home equity served as a debit account to fund consumption, that party is now over. Further people are now just plain worth a lot less than they used to be and therefore are likely to consumer less.

Some further facts come from John Mauldin’s May 4th commentary. Two-thirds of mortgages in the US are held by prime borrowers, of which 5% have missed at least one payment or 1.8 mm mortgages. These borrowers are not the first to default as they are of higher credit quality and have greater equity cushions, but as these folks face job losses and eat up their savings, the numbers will rise dramatically. This is happening now. The losses on these high quality loans are only just starting to hit. As the economy deteriorates the losses on this sector of the mortgage market will mount.

Sub-prime mortgages currently have a 22% delinquency rate, which adds up to 1.2 mm mortgages. These lower quality mortgages were the first to go, and delinquency rates continue to be very high. Huge losses have already passed through on these mortgages but more will occur especially if the economy continues to deteriorate.

More facts - Median home prices are down almost 30% from their peak on average, with a starting price of $230,000 in July 2006. estimates that 2.1 million homes will be lost this year and increase from 1.8 million in 2008. The available housing stock is still at record highs, and fewer people are ready, willing and most importantly, able to move.

We are currently considering a move out west and therefore we have our house in the market, and as I am typing this I am on a plane on the way home from Utah where we looked at some homes. When they say it is a buyer’s market they are not kidding.

As a seller I have had a few lookers, and I have to say we have a great house. There is nothing really wrong with it, which is key, except that it is not brand new. We have had one accepted offer, but the buyer decided to buy another house. At that sale price we would have been slightly above where we bought it in late 1999. Slightly above. If we HAD to sell it tomorrow, I have no idea what the price would be, but likely down from our 1999 purchase point. I have been told that if there is basically anything wrong with the house, there is no bid, unless it represents a true bargain.

Now on the buy side. We looked at brand new construction in Park City and we had endless homes to choose from. For most of the homes we liked we were told, just show a bid, which would likely be substantially below cost. Now for the perfect house, in the perfect location, you will of course pay more, but again, endless homes to choose from.

So what does all this mean? The housing market will be a mess for a while as the main buying season is NOW so one can move before the kids get back to school. Not only is there way too much supply, distressed sellers, and massive numbers of bank owned properties, but with unemployment continuing to rise more and more people will find themselves unable to make payments. The downward cycle of deleveraging, falling asset prices and mounting losses will continue. The powers that be are doing what they can do: pressuring banks to modify loans, continuing to pump money in to the system at all levels, supporting the financial institutions and keeping mortgage rates low. The reality is however that the problems will continue for the foreseeable future.

This is the key reason why I continue to be negative on the US equity markets in particular, and the global equity markets more generally. In the US where 70% of our GDP is consumer driven, how can earnings continue to be anything but bad. The consensus seems to be to expect $40 S and P earnings ( Kostin – GS) for 2009, with at the current level of 910, is anything but cheap. ( 22 times trailing) The real question is of course what will 2010 look like? The housing market at these point is intimately connected with the employment outlook, and again, not good. Over 6 million jobs have been lost since this recession began, so not only do we need to add those back to get back to where we are, but we need to add 125,000 per month just to keep up with new entrants. Where are those jobs going to come from? Mauldin estimates that if you include the underemployed our unemployment rate in this country is already at 15%. 15%. The strain on our system that will cause will be almost unprecedented.

I could easily write another story like this one on the commercial real estate market but I will save that for another day.

And don’t even get me started on this countries unfunded liabilities! In an OPED over the weekend called “Don’t Monetize the Debt”, the WSJ quotes the Dallas Fed saying that “we believe the unfunded liabilities of retirement and health care obligations total over $99 trillion.”

So there you have it. I am still very negative and hope that I prove to be wrong. If you want to read another opinion of where we are now by a guy a lot more experienced and connected than I am read the piece in the current issue of Business Week by Mohaamed A. El-Erian of Pimco called “The New Normal” or the bigger piece he wrote linked below. He ends it this way - “In short, the world’s economies are in an era whose troubles will go well beyond just a flesh wound.” For his more detailed monthly commentary click here. Click here and here for Bill Gross's most recent ones as well. Both are must reads. Check back to this site regularly, these commentaries are about as good as it gets.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Investing in Women and Investing

Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel with Chris Grumm, President of the Womens Funding Network, and Ana Oliveira, President of the New York Womens Foundation. The topic? Investing in Women. Why and Why Now? What does that really mean to me? It means this - seeing that providing access, opportunity and resources to women, as a movement, as a collective, is a way to create a more just and equitable world.

That belief came to life last night at the Ms. Foundation dinner in celebration of Gloria Steinem's 75th birthday. Two women leaders, Gina Womack and Kirbie Platero, told their stories of how grants from this foundation has transformed them and their communities. "The Ms. Foundation supports the efforts of women and girls to govern their own lives and influence the world around them. Through its leadership, expertise and financial support, the Foundation champions an equitable society by effecting change in public consciousness, law, philanthropy and social policy." The room was full to the rim, and you could feel the change happening. You could feel the transformation happening. It is about this investment model really taking hold. It is about people with resources coming to understand why funding in this manner, really makes sense. I am going to work on a few opeds on this subject and I cannot wait to share them.

As for the markets ... I have not written about them for a while as I have had so much going on in other spaces but if you get the newsletters I have suggested in the past, in particularly John Mauldin's ( see link), I would just say "I agree with what he says." I believe that we are a long way away from the problems being over. A long way. We may be through the worst part of the 'financial crisis' but we are still in the early innings of the economic crisis.

I am heading to the airport in minutes but while on the plane over the weekend I am going to write a longer economic commentary for posting next week.
Have a great long weekend!!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Adam Does not Win American Idol!

I am getting ready to hit the PUBLISH button the moment they say his name. I have been watching American Idol all season with my two children and it has been great. We are hoping that Adam wins because he is just such an amazing singer and so original! This final show has been great - well ...... with the exception of Bikini Girl. At least Kara made her look like a fool. Sorry, but she deserves it.
Ok.. the results are almost here!!!! oh bummer............... but Congrats Chris!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The FT Calling for 30% Women on Boards

YES! It is another sign. Just today we are putting the final touches on a discussion paper that I have been working on for a very long time with the National Council for Research on Women looking at reasons and solutions for why there are so few women managing money. We pull the lens back on the issue in to a more general context on the lack of women in positions of leadership and power at financial services firms more generally and issue a "Call to Action." One of our calls if for responsible institutions to adopt a voluntary "Critical Mass Principle", which sets as a goal 30% women on their boards and in senior leadership roles. The Financial Times issued the same call in an OPED published today. We see the time as now to boldly move forward and are launching the paper on June 24 th at Bloomberg. As far as we know it is the most comprehensive work ever done on the topic and we hope it will get lots of media attention.

According to the FT - "If there is ever a time for women to make a decisive breakthrough in corporate boardrooms, it is surely now. Many boards, especially in financial services, are in flux after the testosterone-fueled excesses that led to financial disaster. There is a desperate need to rebuild trust, more easily achieved if boards better reflect customers and the public."

Amen. Amen. Amen.

We are still looking for partners to assist in the launch of this important discussion paper so if you are interested please contact me orTeresa Bagly at the National Council for Research on Women.

I already crafted a response to the editor and I hope you will too! To send a letter to the editor .

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rachel Alexandra, A Sign, Girl Power and Investing in Women Pays Off

It’s a sign. I know it is. Amid a field of all males, 12 to be exact, it is the girl that pulls out ahead. Yesterday Rachel Alexandra became the first filly to win the Preakness Stakes since 1924. I love this quote in the New York Times, “I think she’s the greatest horse in the country. That’s colts, fillies, boys, whatever. She is an amazing filly.” I especially like the “whatever” part.

So what is it a sign of you ask? It is a sign of GIRL POWER. It is a sign that change is happening. It is a sign that betting on women, betting on girls, will and does pay off! It is a sign that investing in women is a smart thing to do. Although you might think I have lost my mind I see it as yet another example to the world that girls and boys, men and women, colts and fillies, are meant to occupy the same places and spaces, have equal access and opportunity. This win IS about the best horse, but it also about the best horse being a girl!

I will close this brief entry with the theme I continuously write about in this blog. The theme is gender equity and gender equality. I want to live in a world where we have it, and because of it, it will be a most just and equitable place for all.

PS. I love horses, so does my daughter, and her name is Alexandra.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The New York Womens Foundation Breakfast and a Major TO DO List

Thursday morning I was one of over 2000 people ( mainly women ) dancing through the doors of the New York Hilton hotel to the beat of Grup Gringo Capoeira USA. The event was the annual breakfast in celebration of the work of the New York Women's Foundation (NYWF), a public philanthropy started 22 years ago to “be a voice for women and a force for change.” Their primary purpose is“to help low-income women and girls in the five boroughs to achieve sustained economic security through expanded opportunities.” I have been and will continue to be a supporter of this organization, and I encourage you to be as well. If your goal is to help make New York City a more just and equitable place to live, I cannot imagine a better way to do it. (they are a member of the Womens Funding Network)

The room was overflowing with political leaders of the city and state, celebrities, committed donors, women leaders of all ages, first timers, and GOOD men. The theme of the morning? Investing in women and in their future, is one of the best ways to build a more just and equitable world.

The Honorees included Ambassador Swanee Hunt for her lifetime of work, but also in special recognition of her leadership role in starting the “Women Moving Millions Movement”, which as mentioned here the day before, just announced they had raised $176 million dollars for women’s funds. Abigail Disney in her intro called Swanee “ bold and visionary and unaccepting of the status quo.” In very colorful language for so early in the morning she said Swanee has the biggest set of jewels, brass balls, cahones (is that a word?) and finally LIFE POUCHES of any woman she has ever known. Swanee humbly took the stage and with a southern smile the size and sweetness of the great outdoors she responded that she was reminded of a quote from Golda Meir that says “Don’t be humble; you are not that great.” Wrong Swanee... you are truly great.

Next up was Governor Patterson talking about the needs of this state and praising the work of the NY Womens Foundation followed by the award presentation to Lilly Ledbetter. If you do not know her story, then please read this and this. The words “accidental activist” kept ringing through my ears. He is one of the greatest examples I can think of a woman who responded to her personal circumstance in a way that changed the world FOREVER, for millions. The issue? FAIR PAY. As a victim of work based gender bias she said enough, ENOUGH, and fought the battle to earn rights for others. When women do not earn as much as men for equal work, this has implications not only for her financial security and future, but for her family for generations to come. (pictured right)

We then heard from a young woman, a girl, who at the age of 16 was left for dead on the side of a road by a man who had just hired her for sex. He had beaten her up so badly, breaking her nose, splitting her lip, breaking her bones, that when she was finally able to go to the mirror she did not recognize who she was looking at. She was one of many teenage girls that are commercial sex workers in this city and the organization she credits for helping her put her life back together is GEMS, a grantee of the NYWF. This is why we were gathered there this morning.

Mayor Bloomberg took the stage next I hope in part due to his support of his partners work, Diana Taylor, Vice-Chair of the NYWF. I was later speaking with Harville Hendrix, best-selling author of “Getting the Love You Want” and husband of Hellen LaKelly Hunt, about the next movement being a “couples movement” and we reflected upon what might have been the impact of him and Diana standing up there, hand in hand. Another opportunity missed…… Never-the-less he did a great job, and spoke about the commitment of city to enable NY to become the “easiest city in America to serve (volunteer).” Here all about the new initiative by clicking here. I love it!!!!

Next up, if you can believe it, was Queen Latifah, again being honored for her activism and commitment to the achievement of women’s equality. First as a teenage woman rap artist in a male dominated world she had the courage to stand up against that exploitive culture. She started her own management company because she was not going to hand her career and finances over to someone else, and it is a successful business today. She is such an amazing example to every women, but in particular young women of color, what you can achieve. She announced a brand new and exciting initiative of the NYWF called RISE New York ( Respond, Inspire, Solve, Engage) and she committed on the spot, $10,000.

After another amazing story of a women saved by the work of the foundation the event was closed by the empowering words and voice of Angelique Kidjo, grammy nominee. Angelique was born to sing and if you click here, I know you will agree. I had first heard this amazing woman at an event earlier this spring, the annual awards dinner of the National Council For Research on Women. She is truly a force of nature. Raised in a family with seven brothers and 3 sisters in Africa with a mother she describes as knowing how to raise good men she was blessed to have a father who was a man that knew “love cannot be a jail but rather love must set the woman free.”

So what can you do with all this information? Here is a list.

1) Support the New York Womens Foundation.
2) Buy Swanee Hunt’s book – The Half Life of a Zealot
3) See Abilgail Disney’s Movie - Pray the Devil Back to Hell
4) Read about the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and talk about it with every person you know.
5) Support GEMS and save a young girls life.
6) Volunteer and encourage everyone you know to as well. For NYC click here.
7) Buy and read one of the many books by Harville Hendrix and make your love relationship all it can be, then bring that passion to your philanthropy as a couple!
8) Read about and support this new initiative of the New York Women’s Foundation – RISE New York.
9) Buy Queen Latifah’s music for you, your daughter, heck every woman you know and go see every movie this fabulous woman is in.
10) As above for Angelique Kidjo - buy here.
11) LAST BUT NOT LEAST - This Thursday I will be speaking at an event hosted by the Harvard Womens Business Alumni Group with Ana Oliveira, President of the New York Womens Foundation, and Chris Grumm, President of the Womens Funding Network. Our discussion is entitled "Invest in Women: Why and Why Now." You can sign up to attend by clicking here. Chris and Ana are two of the most amazing women on this planet so do not miss this opportunity.
Have a great day!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Annie Liebowitz, Women Moving Millions, The Hunt Sisters, $176 Million

Yesterday at 2pm I was standing on the stage at the Brooklyn museum having my photo taken by Annie Liebowitz. (right) It was surreal. I was standing there, in a line, with some of the most amazing women on the planet. The photo will end up being one very, very long image of the majority of the donors that participated in the first stage of the Women Moving Millions Campaign. The initiative was conceived three years ago by two incredible women in that line up, Swanee Hunt and Helen LaKelly Hunt. With a large gift to fund the campaign they imagined raising $150 million for Womens Funds around the world. They imagined bringing in and bringing together women of means to fund grass roots women leaders. They imagined that women would see the power of women giving collectively to bring about the change they wanted to see in the world. They set a BOLD goal not knowing that the global economy was soon to go tumbling off a cliff. They started inviting and I am sure at times, convincing, women around the world that YES they could give at this level. They chose to partner with the Womens Funding Network, an organization I am honored to serve on the board of, because they wanted to create a donor partnership. Sally Roesch Wagner a historian on the suffrage movement addressed those gathered at the museum, dressed as Elizabeth Caty Stanon, saying that never in history have women done this.

At the press conference the Hunt sisters announced that they had surpassed the goal, and have raised over $175 million dollars for Womens Funds. $175 million. Thousands and thousands of lives will be forever changed because of the vision of these two amazing women. And this is only the beginning…….

I am honored, I am humbled, I am without words to describe what the past 36 hours have meant to me. I shared with my 9 year old daughter that I witnessed history in the making, and it is all about making the world a more just and equitable place for little girls in this country and around the world, just like her.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Day, Gloria Steinem, Women Moving Millions, The Dinner Party

Wake up. Get ready. Train. Delay. JP Morgan. The Rising Power of Women in Philanthrophy. Unicef. Jennifer Buffet. The NOVO Foundation. The Girl Effect. Laurie Tisch. Town and Country Magazine. “Never ask for permission, ask for forgiveness.” Money. Social Change. Bake Sales. Recognition. Influence. Causes. Wealth. Investing in Women. Lucy Liu. Superheros. Rising. Believing in zero. Children. Immunization. Vaccines. Clean water. HIV Aids. Child mortality. Joanna Krotz. The Guide to Intelligent Giving. Baron Capital. Gloria Steinem. Circle Financial Group. Women Moving Millions. The Ms. Foundation. Outrageous Acts. Sisterhood. “The injustice is so great that surely if we point it out they will want to change it.” The Woman Effect. Happy Birthday. Shared Experience. Ignoring boundaries. And what about men? Community Organizing. Just do it. Don’t live in the what if. The Zero Club. Critical Mass. Women on Boards. Consumer activism. Managing money. Gratitude. Sisterhood. Community. Train. The Economy. John Mauldin. The $33,000,000,000 Question. Is it over? Bear market rally. Debt. Deleveraging. Unemployment. Arrive. Horses. Dinner. Sermon. Sin. Homework. American Idol. Adam and Danny. The Penderwicks. Blogging. A day well lived.......

Tomorrow begins the celebration of the Women Moving Millions Campaign. I hope you will read all about it in the press in the days to follow. I am deeply honored to be part of this community of women. I want to mark this moment, this day, this month, this year as an acceleration point, maybe a turning point, in the womens movement. Why? Because I believe that women have and are increasingly going to use their resources, and specifically their money, to drive the change they want to see in the world. This is about collective action. This is about the power of the purse. This is about aligning our values with our money not only in how we give, but how we spend, save and invest. Tomorrow as we gather at the Brooklyn Museum around Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party, we will indeed be taking our seat at the table.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


"The most important thing she'd learned over the years was that there was no way to be a perfect mother and a millions ways to be a good one."

- Jill Churchhill, Crime and Punishment (1989)

Mother’s day is a big day for me. Why? Because it is the day I truly reflect on how well I am doing at the most important role God has given me. ( yes I wish it was a day I just slept in and watched movies in bed) My roles as a wife, a daughter, a professional, a giver, a friend ….. are all important too, but being a mother, that is at the top of the list. My son just turned 12 on Friday and my daughter recently turned 9. My husband wanted more children, and in hindsight that would have been nice, but it just did not work out that way. Honestly I felt when I was pregnant motherhood was too much of me. It was all of me. Fully pregnant you cannot go anywhere without it being ‘the thing’ about who you are, and it was not comfortable then and it is still not comfortable. Being a mother will never be for me, THE THING, I am. It will be one of the things I am, and yes, the most important thing I am. Maybe that is why I always worry whether I am ‘good enough?’ When I pulled out the quote book this morning and read the 100 that are listed on this topic this is the one that really resonated. It is easy to figure out why – because I have yet to accept it. I don’t live in the certainty that I am a really good parent, I live in the hope of it. One day when my kids are older, I pray they will look at me with truth and love in their eyes and say “Mom, you were and are many things, and being a GOOD parent was one of them.”

So may I suggest that this be your gift to your mother today? Call her and say “Mom, you should know that I feel you have always been a good mother. Not because you were perfect, but because you did the best you could and that down deep, I always knew that.”

I am sending out a big shout out to all my readers who are mothers, and all of those who want to be one day. Blessings…………… Jacki

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Knowledge, Activism and Engagement

What role are you going to take in shaping our future? I started this blog a year and one half ago because I was so fired up about what was going on in the economy, and what we were being 'told', that I just had to respond in a more public way. I have written much about the economy, about the markets, and most importantly, about what we can do to change the world for the better. I ask you to make this moment the moment, that you decide to truly engage. Figure out what you are passionate about, what matters to you, what makes you nuts, and get engaged. Really engaged. Our future is not tomorrow, or next week, or next year, it is being shaped this very moment. Speak out, act out and be the change you want to see in the world.

"First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out-- because I was not a communist;

Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out-- because I was not a socialist;

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out-- because I was not a trade unionist;

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-- because I was not a Jew;

Then they came for me-- and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Martin Niemoeller – German pastor and theologian in Nazi Germany

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What is Going on? Chrysler and more......

There has been a lot going down lately that has me more then a little concerned. First read this piece by Cliff Asness, hedge fund manager. AQR Asset Management. I admire his courage in writing this piece. I am not in complete defense of hedge funds, but I do think this man is speaking a lot of truth. It is ironic as just this evening at a meeting at my old firm, Goldman Sachs, I mentioned to someone the need for concerned investors and citizens to do a skill building session in "community organizing." That was before I read to the end of the article. Now you have to listen to this interview with a lawyer that is representing the senior bondholders. You have to listen to this. Is this America?

Monday, May 4, 2009

"The Next Housing Bust"

The caption in bubbles to this oped is - "Meet the federal subprime lending programs." I remember the day last year when the annoucement came out saying that the gov't was going to up the FHA insurance limit to $719,000 from $319,000 as a 'solution' to the mortgage crisis. In fact I may have even written about it. For the full scoop you have to read the piece, but bottom line, the problems with FHA loans are going to be huge and costly. I recently read in a report that came from T2 Partners LLC the following statistics: nearly 8% of mortgages on 1-4 family homes were delinquent or in foreclosure at the end of 2008, 24% of homeowners with a mortgage owe more then the home is now worth and among people who bought homes in the past 5 years, 30% are underwater. This housing problem, and the losses associated with it, are so far from over.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Nic Kristof and the Womens Funding Network Conference

I just returned from four days in Atlanta where I attended the Womens Funding Network’s annual conference. I have enough material to blog daily for the next month, and honestly, I do not know where to begin, so I might as well begin at the end.
Our closing keynote was delivered by the most amazing, two-time Pulitzer prize winning journalist, Nicholas Kristof, whom I had the honor of introducing. Nic is a passionate and informed voice on issues that matter to me most: human trafficking, rape, genocide, poverty, health, education, human rights, gender equality and more. His message today was a simple one, the key to economic development is investing in women. Sound familiar? I hope so. You have read about it many times on this blog.

He sees “gender equity as the issue of our century.” I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to hear a man say that. So why is it about women? Because of a logic model called the “woman effect.” When you provide economic and human security for a woman, she does so for her family, for her community and the world. He gave this as an example. A study was done in Africa that showed that when an extra dollar of income went in to the hands of a man 20% of it was spent on alcohol, tobacco, and prostitution, and only 2% on education. When that money went in to the hands of a woman, that money went for caring for her family, including education. That is just one example, and of course there are plenty of men for which this is not true, but sadly, for many it is.

It was an amazing weekend and I come back energized, infused, and activated to continue the work I do to make this world a more just and equitable place for women and girls. If you missed this year, do come next year. You will be glad you did.

Conference material will be available soon on the Womens Funding Network Web-site.