Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Quarterly Asset Allocation

Sorry for the lack of commentary on the markets of late. Life has just been so busy and it has been challenging to find time to write a thoughtful one. I am picking up my investment reading in the next few weeks in preparation for a quarterly asset allocation meeting that I have with a group of the most amazing women investors on the planet! I would love to take you on this learning journey with me. Over the next couple weeks as I come to grips on my own views I will share it on this site and link to great people and articles that I lean on for their insights.

Here is our quarterly process!

- We each are accountable for reading and summarizing the thinking of two investment guru's. Mine are John Mauldin and Mark Faber. In total we review about 20. We fill out a common template on each person and submit it. This saves the group from having to do all the reading.

- We each have a sector of the market that we are responsible for aggregating the thinking on, layering in our own opinions, and share both with the group the day of the meeting. My area is global fixed income. We have the pundit sheets to use for reference, as well as more detailed sectoral reviews from the various investment firms.

- Each individual shares their current asset allocations and investment vehicle selections. We also have a 'to be considered' list that we continually review. In general we look for the most simple, cost effective way to express a view. We have a favorite EFT list that is vetted that we turn to in order to implement both long term and tactical strategies.

- We review market performance and discuss what has changed since our last meeting.

- We have a lot of discussion about all of the above.

- We come up with a consensus view and make changes to our group model portfolio.

- We personally implement whatever changes we think are appropriate.

Why this is so cool! It forces us to have discipline around the process, it leverages both the networks and the intelligence of the group, and it creates accountability for implementation.

Let the research begin!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Treasury Meeting - Women in Finance - Sad Face!

I was able to tune in to the Treasury Webcast I mentioned yesterday in my entry but I am sorry to say, major disappointment. I actuallly feel bad saying this as I know the intention was so good and I have much respect for the people participating.

Why the sad face? Because I was so hopeful that after a horrendous financial crisis characterized by almost a complete lack of women in positions of power and influence that this convening would lead to some powerful statements and better yet, action steps, that would help diversify the power structure in finance. Instead most of the discussion seemed trapped in the same old. It was a conversation that has been had over and over again in a million different places. Aren't we past saying that "well a good thing about being a women in finance is that when you go to a conference there isn't a line for the ladies room" and "yes girls can be good at math." ( I may be paraphrasing)

Yes of course we need more mentoring of young women, yes men need to get over their biases, yes we need to encourage more young women to get MBAs, yes people need more financial education, yes women need to know their power, but do we need to gather the most powerful women in finance with the Treasury Secretary in a live web-cast to be talking about it, or are there other things slightly more important? How about a lively debate around demanding financial instiutions diversify their boards? How about a DEEPER conversation about the evidence, the research, that supports the position that adding women in critical mass improves decision making? How about speaking truth about the 'boys clubs' that exist at most financial institutions and how to break through the barriers that continue to exist once and for all? How about brainstorming concrete ways the government working with the private sector can get more money to women entrepreneurs because we KNOW women face barriers in accessing capital? How about getting MEN in the room that actually have the power to change things? We skimmed the surface on all these topics but it truly is time for action!

I really don't mean to be negative as a convening like this is a positive step, but I worry that the box is now checked for having the conversation about women and finance. I am frustrated. We have the evidence ( see the NCRW report and more ) that women face real barriers to entry in finance, and that adding talented women could lead to a more stable system overall, but it could be that we have a whole lot of talk and nothing really happens, and then we have another financial meltdown and people say once again what could be different next time.

Here are some things that we could do:
- Adopt a Critical Mass Principle where all public financial institutions ( esp those that received tarp funds) commit to a minimum 30% women on corporate boards.
- All government oversight committees abide by that standard as well.
- Government run pension funds ensure their management selection process is free from bias and set a target for allocating assets to diverse managers.
-Public/Private Partnerships are explored that help get private investment dollars to women entrepreneurs.

I am sure I could come up with a few more but this blog is turning in to a rant... Have a great night.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

US Treasury Special Event - Women In Finance

Tomorrow you may call in for a very special event hosted by the US Treasury in partnership with the White House Special Council for Women and Girls. Unfortunately I cannot make it to Washington for this amazing conversation, though I do have a visit to the White House in May to talk about how to get more talented women in important government positions. The list of women participating is long and impressive. The call is from 10 to 2pm and may be accessed by following this LINK. This event is in partnership with 85 Broads. Go Janet!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rocking-Horse Winner - The Latest from Bill Gross

Bill's commentaries are always worth a read and this one is no exception. (click here to read) For the full content archive at PIMCO click here. I was fortunate to spend some time at PIMCO recently and truly consider them an outstanding company. If you can believe if they manage $1 trillion in assets as of DEC 2009. Yes, $1 trillion. For that reason alone if you are an investor you want to know what they are thinking.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

David Allen - Getting Things Done

I am one busy woman and I continuously struggle with trying to manage it all. Years ago while at Goldman I had the opportunity to meet and work with the man to the left, David Allen. David is a personal productivity guru and I recommend his books, his seminars, his products. I also subscribe to his newsletter and today's was too good not too share!

Here is what David does on a regular basis to stay clear, current and creative....
1. Collect Loose Papers and Materials
2. Get IN to Zero
3. Empty Your Head
4. Review Action Lists
5. Review Previous Calendar Data
6. Review Upcoming Calendar
7. Review "Waiting For" List
8. Review Project ( and Larger Outcome) List
9. Review Any Relevant Checklists
10. Review Someday/Maybe List
11. Be Creative and Courageous

Please visit David's Web-site for more!

Friday, March 19, 2010

"Why Canada Avoided a Mortgage Meltdown"

There is a great OPED in the WSJ today that helps to "call in to question the longstanding US beliefs about the relationship of government subsidized housing finance to home ownership." In short Canada does not have GSEs like Fannie and Freddie, yet has the same levels of home ownership as the US, and 1/10th of the foreclosure problems as the US. News about these organizations has moved further back in our newspapers but the ultimate cost to American Taxpayers will be hundreds and hundreds of billions and deserves our continued attention. In thinking about financial reform due attention must be paid to how these behemoths are reduced in size and influence in a responsible manner. Canada continues to provide a great model for a much more stable and responsible financial system. ( and yes I am Canadian!)
PP History
I have written dozens of entries about these two institutions over the past 2 years. In Jan 2008 on the Huffington Post I said there were going to be HUGE losses to be dealt with and sadly.. I was very right. Here are more comments when they were taken over in September 2008.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Women inthe World - The Daily Beast Plus Abigail Disney...

The Daily Beast hosted a most incredible gathering this past weekend in New York City. Though I hoped to attend a combination of my daughters 10th birthday celebration ( I love you Allie!!!) plus the storm kept me away. Click here and here for more on the event. Thank YOU Daily Beast for hosting this event, for the great writing, and the video content!
I had coffee today with my friend Abigail Disney. If you do not know about "Pray the Devil Back to Hell" read all about it now by clicking here. The film is a story about the women of Liberia and is a must see documentary. Help spread the word by clicking here.

Friday, March 12, 2010


If you have not heard about SHE WRITES an online community for women writers you soon will. Two friends of mine created it and they are innovating their way to what will become an amazing, game-changing, platform. Kamy Wycoff and Deborah Siegel (pictured) are the brilliant women behind this effort. I am thrilled, honored, excited, and generally beside myself to be part of the advisory board. Check it out, join, share this exciting new opportunity with your women writer friends. What makes it so cool is that these two women are writers themselves, and honor the women for whom they have created this network. They are asking THEM what their needs are and delivering. The platform they are using is NING, co-founded by an awesome women herself, Gina Bianchini who I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time last week. Ning is working in partnership with them to help them develope this web-based business. This is a new model and I am thrilled to be watching it take hold. You go girls!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

V, U and W - What Shape Will the Recovery Be? Nouriel Roubini

I am a subscriber to RGE Monitor, an economic and financal information source founded by the legendary Nouriel Roubini. ( yes AKA Dr. Doom... though I don't think he likes that) The work he and his team does is exceptional! This morning he had what is below to say. What do I think? We need to INVEST our way to a better future not SPEND our way to a worse one. Both require money but of course one has a hope of a return. ( see more below)

" A slew of poor economic data over the past two weeks suggests that the U.S. economy is headed for a U-shaped recovery—at best—in 2010. The macro news, including data on consumer confidence, home sales, construction and employment, actually suggests a significant downside risk even to the anemic levels of growth which RGE forecast for H1. The U.S. faces continued challenges in H2—particularly as historic levels of fiscal stimulus fade—and appears far too close to the tipping point of a double-dip recession. This is not the conventional wisdom. Heated debate continues to rage in the United States on whether the economic recovery will be V-shaped (with a rapid return to robust growth above potential), U-shaped (slow anemic, sub-par, below trend growth for at least the next two years) or W-shaped (a double-dip recession). The V camp includes distinguished research groups and individuals such as Ed Hyman’s ISI, Larry Meyer’s Macroeconomic Advisors, the research group of JP Morgan, Michael Mussa and others. The U camp includes—among others—Roubini Global Economics, Goldman Sachs’ U.S. economic research group, PIMCO and Ken Rogoff. As early as August 2009, I worried in a Financial Times op-ed about the risk of a double-dip recession even if our RGE benchmark scenario characterizes the risk of a W as still a low probability event (20% probability) as opposed to a 60% probability for a U-shaped recovery. Others concerned about the double-dip risk include also David Rosenberg, Gary Shilling and John Makin. Ed Hyman and I debated whether the recovery would be U or V-shaped on a February 22 conference call attended by over 2,200 listeners. Since that call, a slew of new U.S. macro data have come out. They have been almost uniformly poor, if not outright awful. Consumer confidence, based on the Michigan survey, has tanked. On the real estate front, new home sales are collapsing again, existing home sales are also falling sharply, and construction activity (both residential and commercial) is sharply down. Durable goods orders are down, initial claims for unemployment benefits remain stubbornly high (way above the 400K mark). Real disposable income for Q4 has been revised downward while real disposable income (before transfers) for January was negative again. The manufacturing ISM index—while still expanding being above 50—has now fallen a couple of notches and its production and new orders index levels are falling, too; and global PMIs suggest a loss of momentum in the global economic recovery. Real inventories look unchanged in Q1 relative to Q4; auto sales were at best mediocre; core CPI was falling and core PCE was close to 0%, suggesting anemic demand and economic weakness. Q4 GDP growth was revised upward to 5.9% but most of it (3.9%) was due to inventories; final sales grew at a 1.9% rate while consumption grew at a dismal 1.7% (down from 2.8% in Q3). Q3 growth has been revised from an initial 3.5% to 2.8% to 2.2%, with final sales growing only 1.7%. So, at the time of maximum policy stimulus (H2 of 2009), final sales were growing only at a pathetic 1.8% average rate. The eurozone (EZ) debt crisis, which RGE discusses in depth in a major new paper, predisposes Europe to a rising double-dip risk, due to the wave of fiscal austerity sweeping the periphery of the EZ. Even if the EZ doesn’t enter a double dip, the growth of domestic demand there will be as or more constrained than in the United States. This, in turn, will be a drag on the potential for U.S. export growth. The U.S. dollar rally on risk aversion reflects this risk. The U.S. dollar is settling back down and the threat of a debt crisis is headed off by a stronger Greek fiscal adjustment and potential adjustment package. But fiscal spending cuts, confidence hits and the looming threat of either rising unemployment or falling wages in the public sector—on top of private sector retrenchment—will remain. A similar retrenchment may well lie ahead in the United Kingdom, given rising fiscal sustainability concerns and the threat of a sterling crisis. Europe then will have great difficulty being a source of demand for U.S. exports, and may even provide impetus to faltering global demand growth, contributing to the threat of a wider double dip across high-income countries."

What do I think? I have for years, years, been more negative on the US economy then the consensus thinking and I remain that way. Bottom line I believe WE, individuals, gov't's, private equity funds ( though less so corporations....) have taken on too much debt and it it time to deal with it. As evidenced by the riots in GREECE, and in California, the public does not want to bear the cost of fiscal restraint, and of course I understand that. BUT... So many new taxes are being added and many are losing faith that those funds are going to good use.
We need innovation to drive job creation on a massive scale and it just does not happen like that. Too many American jobs are low paying service jobs, or rest on a consumer spending beyond thier means. That model is just not working anymore nor should we hope that excess consumerism is what saves us. Green jobs, technology jobs, cutting-edge health care, innovative start-ups are what is needed.... What we need to do is stop spending so much and start INVESTING more. We need to INVEST our way to a better future not SPEND our way to a worse one. Both require money but of course one has a hope of a return. I am BIG on the idea of reframing and that is what we need to do right now.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Remarks by the President and the First Lady at International Women's Day Reception

So, so, so many great readings from International Women's today including the words below from President Obama.
......"But even as we reflect on the hope of our history, we must also face squarely the reality of the present -– a reality marked by unfairness, marked by hardship for too many women in America. The statistics of inequality are all too familiar to us -- how women just earn 77 cents for every dollar men make; how one in four women is the victim of domestic violence at some point in her life; how women are more than half the population, but make up only 17 percent of the seats in Congress, and less than 3 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs.

These, and any number of other facts and figures, reflect the fundamental truth that in 2010, full gender equality has not yet been achieved; that the task of perfecting America goes on; and that all of us, men and women, have a part to play in bending the arc in America’s story upward in the 21st century.

...We’re doing all of this not only because promoting women’s empowerment is one of the best ways to promote economic development and economic success. We are doing it because it’s the right thing to do. "

For the full remarks - click here.

Monday, March 8, 2010

International Women's Day - Let's Celebrate and......

Today is International Women's Day and according to Wikipedia "it is a major day of global celebration of women. In different regions the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women's economic, political and social achievements."

It is a day to be both grateful for the advancements that have been made, but also be revolutionary in our thinking about what still needs to happen. I have received countless emails ranging from the announcements of new initiatives, to wonderful reflections from thought leaders, so here is a list of 5 things to share on this very special day!

1) My friend Nic Kristoff writes on "Three Proven Steps to Advance the World’s Women, on International Women’s Day" in the New York Times. He asks himself this question - "What interventions get the most bank for the buck in raising the status of women around the world?" Read his wonderful answers but may I suggest one that does not cost a dime but indeed is an intervention - make this moment, the moment, where everyone who believes in gender equity commits to PERSONAL ACTION every day, in some way, to advance this issue. I want to suggest we adopt this phase as a slogal for the movement - EVERYDAY. IN SOME WAY.

2) I want to give a SHOUT OUT to women leaders that I am honored to know and are a huge inspiration to me. Will someone with a BIG platform please write a piece featuring them all !!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are all GAMECHANGERS.

Kamy Wicoff founder of SheWrites, Gina Bianchini co-founder of NING, Deborah Siegel ( aka Girl With Pen ), Courtney Martin - writer, Stephanie Hanbury Brown - Founder of Golden Seeds, Lisa Witter - Fenton Communications, Mia Herndon - ED of The Third Wave Foundation, Kathy LeMay - Writer, the Generosity Plan, Kayrita Anderson - Creator of A Future Not a Past, Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi - Co-Founder and Executive Director of the African Women's Development Fund, Alexa Von Tobel - Founder of Learnvest. And there are so many more............... I honor you all today and everyday!!!!!!!

3) The International Herald Tribune has an ongoing series called the Female Factor - (click here) Please be sure to check back regularly for the latest piece. One particular essay to read is Katrine Bennhold "Risk and Opportunity for Women in 21st Century." Please take the time to read these articles and post comments.

4) A New MS foundation blog launched today (Click here) which will showcase the sharp writing and informed opinions of a community of feminist bloggers from around the nation and the globe.

5) The Glass Hammer is a great new site to visit regularly. It is an online community designed for women executives in financial services, law and business. Visit daily to discover issues that matter, share experiences, and plan networking, your career and your life. ( Click here ) Nicki you and your site rock!!

In closing, again on this special day, I want to thank so many women who have made such a difference to me and especially my grandmother Sadie ( age 92), my mother Rose, my sister Teri, my best buddy in Kelowna Kim, my Goldman Sisters Ann, Mary Ann, Robin, Maria, all my CFG pals, and countless friends........... I love and thank you all.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

"The Time Has Come" - Kathryn Bigelow WINS!

What a story. Kathryn Bigelow becomes the FIRST woman to win the Oscar as a Director and her movie, The Hurt Locker, beats Avatar, the top grossing film, for motion picture of the year! I thought the film was incredible and I am glad I stayed up to witness this moment. A glass something broke in Hollywood tonight!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

NCRW - Making a Difference Awards Dinner and More..

Yesterday was a special day. Eight years after leaving Goldman Sachs to pursue philanthropic interests, the primary of which being to help advance women’s leadership, I was back at 32 Old Slip, a secondary GS building, to moderate a panel discussing that and more! The convening organization was the National Council for Research on Women, where I a proudly serve as a Board Member Emeriti.

The title given to the conversation was “From Turbulence to Transformation” – challenges and opportunities for advancing real and substantive social change. My fellow panelists were
- Melanne Verveer – U.S. Ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s Issues
- Edith Cooper, Managing Director, Global Head of Human Capital Management at Goldman Sachs
- Chris Grumm, President and CEO, Women’s Funding Network
- Letty Chirwara, UNIFEM Cross Regional Programmes

We had an amazing two hour discussion, and although we did not solve all the world’s problems, it felt like we had some great moments and I hope some solid take-aways.

The issue of gender inequality is a wicked one indeed, but one that is being tackled every moment of every day in a million different ways. Melanne spoke of the passion Secretary of State Clinton has and continues to frame women’s rights as human rights. Edith connected the incredible economic research Goldman has done on the contribution narrowing the gender gap has on growth and GDP to their decision to launch their 10,000 Women Initiative. Letty told stories of Unifem’s economic development work with women in many countries including Kenya, some of whom were present, and how creating markets for their products is transforming communities. Chris articulated the incredible work of women’s funds around the world, and how resourcing women led solutions offer the highest return on investment. Hopefully we will have video available to share as I would need pages and pages to do this conversation justice ……

The discussion was followed by the annual awards dinner where in addition to Ambassador Verveer and Edith Cooper being honored, so was
- Michelle Clayman of New Amsterdam Partners
- Wayne Windborne of Prudential
- Matthew Winkler , Editor-in-Chief, Bloomberg New

I had the additional honor of being seated with Eve Ensler, playwright and Founder of V-day, Senior Correspondent Judy Woodruff and so many other incredible people. A big shout out to my friends and family who came in support of NCRW!

The work of the Council is so important because, as I believe Allison Bernstein, Vice President of The Ford Foundation said, if it did not exist we WOULD have to create it. Credible research informs decision making. We need an organization that works to organize, to convene, to amplify, to create, to promote research and research organizations that focus on women and girls and NCRW is that organization.

I was asked to close the evening’s program and in addition to asking for support for NCRW I asked that everyone in the audience consider this…. Are you doing enough? Can you do more? How can you “do what you can, with what you have, where you are, to make a difference around gender inequality?” I ask you dear reader to consider this as well................. as am I.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Global Gender Gap Report

I am doing some last minute research for the panel I am moderating tomorrow and wanted to link you all to the Global Gender Report, just in case you have not seen it. This report is produced by the World Economic Forum and "assesses countries on how well they are dividing their resources and opportunities among their male and female populations, regardless of the overall levels of these resources and opportunities." How does the US rank you might ask? 31st. 31st! To find out what 31 countries are ranked higher, check out the full report. ( And my children ask me why I do the work I do????? ) I have a whole series of events, gatherings and conversations this week so lots to blog about over the weekend!