Friday, January 29, 2010

"Gender Issues Must Move to the Heart of Davos Agenda" Plus Lack of Senior Women on Wall Street

The world's power brokers are gathering in DAVOS this week for the World's Economic Forum. One day, ONE DAY, women and girls will be front and center on the agenda and almost everything they will be discussing will have some sort of gender lens. Why? Because narrowing the gender gap is key to global economic growth. The Forum has recognized the importance of narrowing the gender gap as key to economic growth yet they have yet to mainstream the learnings. They have for the past few years published a report which you can find here. The US ranks 31st - yes 31st, behind countries like Mongolio and Latvia. This is truly outrageous and a FACT that mainstream media really needs to pick up on. No wonder we are in the middle of a financial and economic crisis! Ask me, go ahead, "Do I think if women were more present in positions of influence in critical mass we might have avoided this dramatic downturn. Yes I do!" I have pages and pages and pages of research to back up this 'opinion' which i will soon hope to publish for you all to see. Pages.

I friend and collegue Roxanne Mankin Cason wrote this piece for Women's Enews about the need to have gender issues front and center.

Here is another piece worth reading from the NY Times on the lack of women in positions of power on Wall Street. A question they asked is 'why don't women resurface when they leave?' but the bigger question is why are there so few women who make it in to top positions? We wrote a paper on that exact topic that I have blogged on many times, but if you have not yet taken a look here it is again. ( Women in Fund Management: A Roadmap to Critical Mass and Why It Matters.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The State of the Union

"Jobs. Housing Prices. Bank Bailouts. Deficits. Healthcare. Earmarks. Reforms. We suffer from a deficit of trust. Washington. Everyday is an election day. You lose I win mentality. We are here to serve our citizens and not our ambitions. Human security. Common Purpose.EQUAL PAY FOR WOMEN FOR EQUAL DAYS WORK. It is our ideas and our values that build this nation. Give back to your country. Be generous in spirit."

It was a good speech. President Obama came a across as a real person who could relate to the real problems that America is facing. Loved the way he talked about our security. It was not a tough guy talk but a more thoughtful approach. Good speech.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Why Give? - One Woman's Story


I have been working on a report, a big one, about Why Women, Why Now and have uncovered some amazing statistics around a broad range of topics, including women and giving. While that report is still to come, I want to feature one Woman's Story - that of Lynne Rosenthal, a million dollar donor to the Ms. Foundation. If you read this blog regularly you know I am a big supporter of Women's Foundations and the Women's Funding Network. Why? For many of the same reasons that Lynne articulates here.


"I saw the brilliance of leaders like Sara Gould, its CEO. I saw the genius of the cross-race, cross-class approach to grant-making -- characteristic of all women's foundations -- that places at the decision-making table not just the women with money but also women who may have little money but who, as grassroots activists, know just how it can be best invested in the community."

Women's funds realize that it is not the people with money that have all the answers, but the opposite. This is a different leadership model and it is a partnership model. I will write more on Why Women's Funds but for now i hope you click to the link to read Lynne's story.
I am also a member of Women Moving Millions and am honored to serve on their Donor Advisory Board. Stage two planning is in the works!

Friday, January 22, 2010

President Obama Announced New Bank Rules That Sinks Stocks

Holy Smokes! I understand the President felt under pressure to announce something about financial reform given what happened in Massachusetts but oh my gosh! “This new scheme- which covers a ban on proprietary trading, a ban on ownership, investment in or sponsorship of hedge funds, and private equity, and new limits on the overall size of banks is vague and will doubtless change before it becomes a reality.” (FT) The Financial Times says in a staff written editorial named “Obama declares war on Wall Street” that the timing was indeed political. Besides what happened in Massachusetts, Goldman announced their earnings and thus their bonuses which has been a lightning rod for the public’s anger and thus gave the President a ‘moment’ to make this aggressive announcement. According to the FT, who endorsed the new tax previously announced, this ‘radical shift a mistake.”

So what do I think? I don’t think they powers that be truly understand how Wall Street works, in particular as it relates to what is “proprietary trading.” It is one thing to say that firms can do it in the context of facilitating customer business but as someone who traded for 10 years, what is customer business is not easy to determine. Let me give you an example from my own experience.

I was a trader of mortgage backed bonds. I carried positions to enable customer activities and oppositely ran short positions to hedge my book. I would accumulate positions in bonds I thought were good value based on research and my own opinions so when customers agreed and wanted to buy them I could offer them competitively. It was very important to ‘do the business’ but it was also important to ‘make money.’ Proprietary trading is what enables you to do both. YES, there is a downside to prop trading and the government should not ‘bail out’ risk takers, but this rule shoots the baby out with the bathwater. Without ‘prop trading’ I do not see how Wall Street firms can do their business.

As for the ownership of private equity and hedge funds I think this issue is complicated as well and not as simple as just now sorry, you cannot do it. Again, financial reform is needed, but thoughtful reform.

What I take biggest issue with frankly is the language and the tone the administration is using. You can be strong without being aggressive and confrontational. Wall Street played by the rules by and large and yes the rules were messed up but blame the regulators for that one. President Obama daring Wall Street to challenge what they are doing is just not appropriate in my book and clearly populist.

Lastly if you really want to get annoyed and ponder what happens if the government takes financial institutions continue to follow what is happening with Fannie and Freddie.
Here is the latest from the Wall Street Journal. (Fannie, Freddie Losses May Hit US)

Links
"New Bank Rules Sink Stocks" - WSJ Jan 22
"Obama Hammers the Banks" - FT Jan 22
"Obama Declares War on Wall Street" - OPED FT Jan 22

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"Women, Men and the New Economics of Marriage"

I hope you all caught the headlines about this new PEW Study that is being released. (Women, Men and the New Economics of Marriage) Here is a take from the LA Times and another from the NY Times.
(click here to link to my blog from facebook)


"The institution of marriage has undergone significant changes in recent decades as women have outpaced men in education and earnings growth. These unequal gains have been accompanied by gender role reversals in both the spousal characteristics and the economic benefits of marriage." The study is full of stats and bottom line there are huge business and social implications.


Another great piece was published today by Nicki Gilmour at the Glass Hammer. Nicki makes a compelling case for the "Critical Mass Principle," which advocates for a minimum of 30% women on corporate boards and in senior leadership positions. Thanks Nicki for the mention and for highlighting our "Women in Fund Management' paper.

Nicki also mentions Linda Tarr Whelan who just wrote a great book called "Women Lead the Way." I spent a few hours with Linda this week and she truly 'gets it.' The book is a great read and articulates the reasoning behind, why women, why now. Please buy a copy and give a copy to any man ( or woman ) in power who clearly doesn't. You can also give them a copy of the PEW report. If you need even more evidence wait about a week until I have my web-site up! It will be loaded with it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"The Generosity Plan"

When you think about your great friendships? Your life-changing relationships? Who are the people that jump in to your head? Who has changed your life for the better in ways you could have only prayed for? One such person for me is Kathy LeMay. I met Kathy a few years ago when I was looking for someone to help be figure out how to have more philanthropic impact. No longer working full-time for money I was giving more of my time, and more of my money away, and I wanted to know how I could do it well. Kathy became my, our, philanthropic coach. In doing so she truly changed my life. She made me think hard about what I am passionate about, what I want to see different in the world, what I am willing to WORK to change. I am crying as I write this as Kathy you have and continue to unleash both my desire and capacity to give. You have made me a more generous person and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Encouraged by so many Kathy has written a book - The Generosity Plan : Sharing Your Time, Treasure and Talent to Shape the World. It was released yesterday and PLEASE help to make it a best seller. It is a book for anyone and everyone. Her goal? To great a generous world, where everyone knows they can make a difference.

Buy it on Amazon today! CLICK here to order. For more information on where you might see Kathy live see her web-site. If you can help with media or speaking engagements please contact emilia@kathylemay.com .

Monday, January 18, 2010

Fannie and Freddie con't

I just read an oped in the Wall Street Journal and it was too validating not to reference and quote. The piece is called the "Responsibility Tax" and they say this about who is exempt from the tax. "Also exempt are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which operate outside of TARP but also surely did more than any other company to cause the housing boom and bust." In sure signs of continued insanity ...."The White House wants to tax more capital away from profit-making banks to offset the intentional losses that the politicians have ordered up for Fan and Fred." This all is making me nuts...

Bill Gross's Latest Views

Yesterday I linked to Bill's latest market overview called, Let's Get Fisical, but it is so good I want to make sure you read it by providing an excerpt.

"If 2008 was the year of financial crisis and 2009 the year of healing via monetary and fiscal stimulus packages, then 2010 appears likely to be the year of “exit strategies,” during which investors should consider economic fundamentals and asset markets that will soon be priced in a world less dominated by the government sector. If, in 2009, PIMCO recommended shaking hands with the government, we now ponder “which” government, and caution that the days of carefree check writing leading to debt issuance without limit or interest rate consequences may be numbered for all countries....

"Here’s the problem that the U.S. Fed’s “exit” poses in simple English: Our fiscal 2009 deficit totaled nearly 12% of GDP and required over $1.5 trillion of new debt to finance it. The Chinese bought a little ($100 billion) of that, other sovereign wealth funds bought some more, but as shown in Chart 2, foreign investors as a group bought only 20% of the total – perhaps $300 billion or so. The balance over the past 12 months was substantially purchased by the Federal Reserve. Of course they purchased more 30-year Agency mortgages than Treasuries, but PIMCO and others sold them those mortgages and bought – you guessed it – Treasuries with the proceeds. The conclusion of this fairytale is that the government got to run up a 1.5 trillion dollar deficit, didn’t have to sell much of it to private investors, and lived happily ever – ever – well, not ever after, but certainly in 2009. Now, however, the Fed tells us that they’re “fed up,” or that they think the economy is strong enough for them to gracefully “exit,” or that they’re confident that private investors are capable of absorbing the balance. Not likely."

...so what do you do

"if exit strategies proceed as planned, all U.S. and U.K. asset markets may suffer from the absence of the near $2 trillion of government checks written in 2009. It seems no coincidence that stocks, high yield bonds, and other risk assets have thrived since early March, just as this “juice” was being squeezed into financial markets. If so, then most “carry” trades in credit, duration, and currency space may be at risk in the first half of 2010 as the markets readjust to the absence of their “sugar daddy.” There’s no tellin’ where the money went? Not exactly, but it’s left a suspicious trail. Market returns may not be “so fine” in 2010.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Financial Inquiry and more.....

The reason I do not have a lengthy post about my thoughts around the financial hearings this past week is because I read this piece, “The man who names the future,” in the FT which sent me running home to write an OPED that I am praying will get placed in a major business publication!! ( major time ) It is the most important thing I have ever written and I cannot wait to share it with you all.

This will have to do - The Hearings. I have a lot of mixed feelings about what is going on. I do think that the largest financial institutions contributed greatly to the financial crisis and should be held accountable. The ‘masters of the universe’ are not often but in the hot seat, and I hope that the experience will lead to greater humility both personally and organizationally. As for the levy what strikes me as unfair is that this is a tax on the banking system and not the shadow banking system, which also played a big role in the crisis. Further what about Fannie and Freddie? Why isn’t anyone talking about them right now??? Why no appearances before a commission? Oh, perhaps because Barney Frank cannot appear before himself. The losses there will be in the hundreds of billions and where is that inquiry? The public deserves to know the details of how ‘making home ownership affordable for Americans’ contributed greatly to this crisis as well. I think the President’s attacks, the language he chooses, is just not right. (see article below) Many have written that he has been all talk and no action as it relates to reigning in Wall Street. I personally would like to see respectful talk and appropriate action. It is clear that bonuses will shrink as a result of the outrage, but there are consequences. You can bet the NYC and NY State budgets are taking a direct blow, not to mention real estate, retail… well I could go on. Generally speaking those who make a lot of money spend a lot of money and redistributing those dollars to federal government coffers while nice in theory, has economic consequences. I still love my 'virtue fund' idea but i guess that piece did not get to GS or Washington. Darn. And what about those folks making out like bandits in the shadow banking system? Many took advantage of cheap government funding in one form or another to buy assets and have made huge returns. Sure they will pay taxes, increasing taxes, but no one is telling them what to pay their employees. I am not saying they should, I am just saying it is not exactly fair. That seems to be the theme of my entries this week… Life is not fair.

some links....
other notables
PIMCO - Bill Gross's latest commentary - Let's Get Fisical

Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti continued...

Tiffany shares a personal, inspirational, and heartwrenching reality of what the situation is currently and her hope for what we can do to help. The call starts about 4 minutes into the recording so you can fast-forward there. Click here to access. Hope for Haiti was started 20 years ago by Tiffany's grandmother, Joann Kuehner. This organization is providing food, medical care, and help to children and families.To make a difference, donate to Hope for Haiti . (this call is courtesy of Julie Gilbert and the Wolf Means Business Network)

From Tiffany this morning............

"Mikey ( her financee) called yesterday mid afternoon and I can’t tell you how good it was to hear his voice. He was at the UN base in Port-au-Prince getting ready to participate in a logistics meeting that was about to take place. He explained that the UN has almost been paralyzed by the significant loss of their team. Many are suffering from severe shock. So many organizations have lost their staff. Many of our friends, and fellow ex-pats did not make it. The institutional knowledge that was lost in literally seconds from the death of seasoned dedicated staff and professionals is irreplaceable.

Mikey has set up a Trauma Center at Villa Creole in Petionville where hundreds of people are coming for care. Thankfully another team of doctors/nurses arrived there last night and they are receiving more medical support, although they are very low on supplies. They are working on people literally on the pavement outside the hotel during the day and doing suturing and triage care by a headlamp at night.

E-mail from Mikey as of this morning at 7am
"We have lost many friends. I am working with agencies who are left and trying to prep the people coming. We will need box carts with strong wheels. I need large trash cans and bags cleaners, work gloves, good class 2 mask, construction masks. if we can, 2x4 wood, 3/4 plywood, 2in and 4in nails. we ill need to build up a doorm and office. tools saws nails. etc. ask Bart zino he can make a list fast. chairs, food - non-parashable MRE type food snack ete my team don't have much. Un is trying to set up camps for NGO support but it is weeks off.

I am ok and working as fast as I can still running trauma center at night. we have about 150. maybe 100 new. losing many to internal injuries that we cannot operate on. "

Tiffany will be travelling to Haiti this weekend with a planeload of supplies donated by GE. Please keep her and the people of Haiti in your prayers.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti Earthquake.....

I have been sitting here, staring at a blank page, wondering what I could possibly write about Haiti. To say it is an unbelievable tragedy is of course so obvious. What comes to mind is that it is all so unfair. Life is so incredibly unfair. Some people suffer in ways others of us cannot possibly understand. That has always been true and will always be true. What we can hope for is that the worst of situations bring out the best in people. We are here, I believe, to help and to serve one another.

Luke 34: "He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him."

My friend and colleague Tiffany spent years working in Haiti, and her fiancĂ©e is there now. Here is her message of what you can do to help….

"I write this e-mail with an incredible amount of sadness in my heart tonight for a country that I love so much. Tragically, Haiti suffered a 7.0 Earthquake today that has left a tremendous amount of devastation and casualties in the thousands or more. All the phone lines are down, the UN Headquarters in Port-au-Prince has collapsed, and people are incredibly scared. I have been receiving e-mails from Mikey (my fiance) who is on the ground in Les Cayes, Haiti and thankfully is safe. He has been reporting back information as it comes in and is quickly mobilizing a team and supplies as I write. Hope for Haiti is working tonight and has assembled a medical team, plane, and pilot to fly to Haiti as soon possible with medical supplies. We have not yet been able to get in touch with all of our fellow expats, but do know that there are two who are stuck under one of the volunteer mission houses in Port-au-Prince. Please pray for them and their families tonight along with the thousands of others who are trapped this evening or injured.How can you help? In three ways...1. We need God's help here.... please keep Haiti in your prayers! 2. For those of you who can, please donate to Hope for Haiti another organization you trust that is focusing on relief in Haiti at this time. Hope for Haiti is moving forward as fast as possible, but needs your help desperately! 3. Spread the word! Please share with friends and family and let people know what has happened."

I would also recommend the American Red Cross. My dear friend Ann Kaplan serves on their board and I know first hand the amazing work they do.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Let the Games Begin.


Let the games begin! Tomorrow is the first hearing of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which will bring to Washington Wall Street’s top brass. Andrew Ross Sorkin, Author of Too Big Too Fail and NYTimes journalist provided quite the list of questions for the interrogators. It is impossible to pick a favorite as they are hit to the core of the issues and concerns I am sure we all have. It will be an interesting few days. Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"The Glass Hammer" - 2010 Gender Equality

For a great take on the article I mentioned two entries ago in the Economist, and more on gender equality in the work place check out Nicki Gilmour's piece in the Glass Hammer. Better yet subscribe to their great newsletter. Nicki, I could not agree with you more!!

Monday, January 4, 2010

"The Crisis Next Time" - Baseline Scenerio


I am a big fan of BASELINE SCENERIO, and anyone can subscribe for free. Today's entry is particularly good as it is about the “Global Financial Crises: Past, Present, and Future." Click here to read it and be sure to link to the slide presentation. The author of this piece is Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and a member of the CBO’s Panel of Economic Advisors.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

"We Did It" - What Happens When Women Are Over Half the Workforce

This is another sign! The cover article for the first issue of 2010 of the Economist, my favorite magazine, is on "Female Power." I have felt for a while now that 2010 will be a year that is a game changer as far as women and power, and the facts presented in this article are the main reasons why. ( from facebook click here for full entry)
"The economic empowerment of women across the rich world is one of the most remarkable revolutions of the past 50 years." Revolutions. Just over a year ago I gave a speech called "Are You Ready for a Revolution", which you can watch in full if you become a member of 85 Broads! (event section - dec 9 2008), in which I said that the time is now for women to claim their space and share in decision making and leadership. The Economist goes on to say that "If the empowerment of women was one of the great changes of the past 50 years, dealing with its social consequences will be one of the great challenges of the next 50." True, so much has and will change BECAUSE of the numbers. Women now make up half of the work force in this country and earn almost 60% of the University Degrees. Those numbers simply do not line up with the fact that we are only 2% of Fortune 500 company CEOs and less than 13% of board members in America. Corporate America will have to change, as will government policies, the most important of which being the support for affordable, quality child care.

The article mentions some research done by Goldman Sachs regarding the connection between gender equality and economic growth. The reasons for supporting and enabling the increased participation of women in the workforce are strong. "Closing the male-female gap and boosting female productivity would help to address the problem of pension sustainability via boosting employment amount those of working age, lifting household saving rates and lifting taxation receipts for government."

Investing in women and girls - from a non-profit perspective and a for-profit perspective - is the investment thesis for this decade! ( and maybe longer) This will be the focus of my writing, speaking and consulting this year! Within a few weeks I hope to have my web-site up and running so as to provide you with an extensive resource list to support this thesis.

2010 - A Game Changing Year for Women and Girls!

A Few Resources - There have been SO MANY outstanding reports and articles this past year alone that support this trend, and here are just a few to get you started.

The FEMALE Economy - HBR Article Sept. 2009
The Shriver Report - A Woman's Nation Changes Everything 2009
The Whitehouse Project Report - Benchmarking Women's Leadership 2009 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
"In short, ensuring that women move into leadership alongside men is not a women’s issue, nor is it a trivial concern compared with the massive problems we face on a national and global scale. Increasing women’s leadership is an imperative. Advancing women serves us all — men and women, businesses and institutions alike. "

Friday, January 1, 2010

RGE Monitor's - 10 for 2010!


I subscribe to RGE Monitor, an exceptional global economic information resource created by Nouriel Roubini. Listed below are the top 10 issue areas that they see for 2010. It is a great list. I am meeting with one of RGE's top economists in person next week so I will be sure to report back! From an economic perspective we are certainly facing some challenging issues this year and front and center will be how the global central banks start to step back from their massive intervention. ( there are no links in the list below)


Rising Fiscal Pressures
Stimulus Spending Adds to Public Debt Risks
Will the Rising U.S. Debt Hurt Future Growth?
Sovereign Risk in the Eurozone: Are More Downgrades to Come?
Shaky Baltic Governments: Sharp Budget Cuts Boost Political Risk
Global Monetary Policy
How Will Global Central Banks Remove Accommodation?
The Exit From Global Monetary Easing: Disorderly?
Health of Global Financial Markets
How Healthy are European Banks?: Expected Writedowns Increase
U.S Bank Lending Continues to Fall Amid Permanently Tighter Lending Standards and Reawakening Demand
Regional Banks' Exposure to Commercial Real Estate Loans: More Downgrades and Failures to Come
Recovery From Housing Busts
U.S. Home Prices: Are Recent Gains Sustainable?
Could Canada Face Its Own Subprime Crisis?
Is Exchange Consolidation a Sign that Dubai's Role as a Financial Hub Is Being Diminished?
Regulatory Reform
Is Appetite for Regulatory Reforms Waning?
Capital Flows to Emerging and Frontier Markets
Will Asian Policymakers Change Their Approach to Capital Inflows?
Will Global Central Banks Keep Up Their pace of Reserve Accumulation?
Will Frontier Markets Have More Access to Capital in 2010?
Energy Supply Issues
Are We Insulated From Energy Supply Shocks?
Should Europe Brace for Another Natural Gas Crisis in 2010?
Will the Stalemate at Copenhagen Stall Alternatives?
Will An Increase in Hydrocarbon Prices Choke Off Any Recovery?
The U.S. Dollar
Has the U.S. Dollar Replaced the Yen as the Top Carry Trade Funding Currency or Could the Yen Carry Trade resume?
How Strong Is Central Bank Interest in Gold?
Global Overcapacity
Will Chinese Policies Be Inflationary or Deflationary for the Global Economy?
The Global Auto Industry Post Cash for Clunkers
The Recovery of Global Trade Flows Will a Jobless Recovery Stifle Growth?
Security Threats
Will Domestic Protest Shift Responses to Iran's Nuclear Program?
Will North Korea Return to the Six-Party Talks?
How Much Should We Be Worried about Cybersecurity Threats?