Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Helen Keller Foundation and Gala - May 17th

Just recently, an incredibly dedicated group of women introduced me to Helen Keller International, a 95-year old nonprofit founded by the legendary Helen Keller. On May 17th, the 5th Annual Spirit of Helen Keller Gala will be held in New York. In connection with the Gala, my friends from HKI are deeply committed to raising $1 million dollars for HKI’s programs, which prevent blindness and reduce malnutrition worldwide. Unfortunately, corporate sponsorship remains weak, which means that HKI must increasingly rely on private and individual support. Please consider supporting this wonderful organization.

By way of background, HKI currently works in 22 countries, including Africa, Asia Pacific and the US. HKI’s model -- partnering with local non-governmental organizations and governments to introduce interventions that save life and preserve sight -- is technically proven and unbelievably cost-effective. In light of recent abuses highlighted by the New York Times in the micro-lending world, HKI’s model and work continues to command tremendous respect and support around the world.

The Benefit Committee at HKI is determined to continue building upon this organization’s great strength so that it can operate in more villages and reach even more children and adults. Simple donations also go far at HKI: for $2/year, a child can be given the two Vitamin A capsules that give her enough fortification to ward off blindness and hold onto life. For $9, village community gardens can give mothers to a way to provide not only essential nutrients for their families, but also produce to sell in the market.

I am incredibly inspired by HKI and its ability to impact lives in truly meaningful ways. As a direct result of this organization’s great work, children will live and people’s eyesight will be saved. Please give, support and pay tribute to the great work of HKI!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bethany McClean - on the GS Hearings and more..

I have a very long list of favorite people on the planet, and Bethany McClean is one of them. For many years she wrote for Fortune Magazine, and more recently moved to Vanity Fair. In addition she co-wrote "The Smartest Guys in The Room" - a book about Enron, and you if you have not seen the movie, you should.

She weighed in about the Goldman, well, mess... by writing this oped for the New York Times - Meet the Real Villain of the Financial Crisis. She has this to say.....

"But the transaction at the heart of the S.E.C.’s complaint is a microcosm of the entire credit crisis. That is, there are no good guys here. It’s dishonest and ultimately dangerous to pretend that Goldman is the only bad actor. And the worst actor of all is the one leading the charge against Goldman: our government."

This article is a must read as it puts other actors in to both this transaction and others like it that are at the heart of this crisis. I did not watch the hours and hours of testimony yesterday, only about 30 minutes, but if you did, I ask you, what was accomplished? Do you think the folks asking the questions asked balanced ones? Do you think they understood the nature of this transaction, or even how institutional market making firms like GS work? ( from what I watched, not at all ) Where does it all go from here?

I am not defending GS in this transaction. I am not even defending Wall Street. Nor am I attacking anyone. It just seems to me that educated, unemotional, thoughtful and truth seeking dialogue was not what I witnessed yesterday and I would have thought that would be the purpose of those hearings.

A list of other lead articles written about the testimony yesterday... "'Fabulous Fab' breaks cover to face grilling as Goldman's woes mount"-Financial Times, "Goldman Sachs on the defensive as senators ask blunt questions"-The New York Times, and "Goldman is bruised, defiant in senate"-The Wall Street Journal.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Call From SheWrites - My Heroines...

Deborah Seigel (pictured) of SHEWRITES has started something! She has asked all us bloggers to create a list of our women heroines. Love it. (click here to read more) So here is the problem.. I have way, way, way too many.... So if you are not included in this list, forgive me, and you will be in the next one... Not many on my list are bloggers, but they should be.

1) Deborah Seigel - Back at ya sista! ( girlwpen )I am not sure I would be blogging at all without your support. You are a gifted writer and a spectacular person.

2) Ann Kaplan - Founder of Circle Financial Group. Our friendship goes way back to the early 90's when Ann as a senior women in Fixed Income at GS and I was a lowly associate. She has been my mentor forever.

3) Barbara Dobkin - Barbara is one of the most selflessly generous people I know. She gives and gives and serves and serves and always with humor and joy.

4) Kathy Lemay - Kathy you have rocked my world. She is the writer of the new book, "The Generosity Plan" and since the day I met she has challenged me about who I am and how I can make a difference.

5) My 92 year old Grandmother Sadie, my mother Rose, and my sister Teri - I have the most amazing women in my family and I love them all so much.

6) Helen Lakelly Hunt - For stepping out of her comfort zone and encouraging women of means to step up to fund women and girls.

7) Chris Grumm - President of the Women's Funding Network - She is a force of nature and I am honored be a part of the community.

8) Stephanie Hanbury Brown - Creator of Golden Seeds, and angel investing network that funds women entrepreneurs. She walks the walk.

....... I could go on and on and on. I am so blessed and thank all the incredible women in my life.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Men, Feminism, Gender Equality and Call to Action!

The Women’s Movement has not been very good at including men in the discussions and strategies to advance gender equality. We justly complain about being excluded from men’s tables, but I truly challenge us to ask ourselves if we are doing the same thing by not inviting them to ours? This has to, and is, slowly, changing.

I want to honor the history of women’s organizing and action. Women needed a safe place to share stories, be heard and create strategies for change. We certainly still need that, but broadening our movement to include men that share our values has, I believe, become mission critical.

I also want to honor the many incredible women leaders and activists, so many of which I had the good company of this past week in Denver, at the Women’s Funding Network Annual Conference including Gloria Steinem, Chris Grumm, Helen Lakelly Hunt, Barbara Dobkin, Katherine Acey and so many more. These women have been fighting for the rights of women and girls for decades. But for the movement, our movement to advance, I believe we need to do a much better job of including men and male leaders who share our mission and our values. We need more than a few good men, we need a lot of them, and one such man is Kumi Naidoo, International Executive Director of Greenpeace International, who joined us in Denver.

Kumi travelled all the way from Amsterdam to speak on a panel at the conference called “United In Purpose: A Cross-Sector Stakeholder Exchange.” The other panel members were Saadia Zahidi ( World Economic Forum) , Anne Mosle (Kellogg Foundation), Ana Maria Enriquez (UNIFEM), Pamela Shifman (NOVO) , Cathy Woolard (CARE) , Kim Azzarelli (Goldman Sachs) and moderated by Nicky McIntyre ( Mama Cash) (link to all speakers bios). More and more organizations are investing in strategies that see women and girls as solution builders to the world’s problems, and the question is, how do we work together for maximum impact? How to we make sure that this is not a trend but sustainable? Organizations like CARE, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Initiatives, and the NOVO Foundation are BIG, yet relatively new players in this work, so how do they partner with Women’s Funds that have been doing this work for 30 years? How do they both absorb and leverage the knowledge that exists and not reinvent the wheel? And what can we as a network of women’s funds learn from these organizations and how they come to see investment opportunities and strategies? Rather than give you all my notes, I will link to the session when it becomes available next week.

My point in this blog entry is that a MAN, a self defined Feminist MAN, was there with us brilliantly adding to the conversation with insightful perspective and great tactical ideas. He did not need to be convinced that including women and girls in discussions around climate change, poverty, health issues was the right thing to do, but the absolutely necessary thing to do. He did not need to be coached about what to say and how to say it in a respectful and inclusive tone, be modeled it. He did not duck tough questions about inclusion and voice, he addressed it head on. He did not cushion his comments about what hold the women’s movement back, he gave targeted advice on how we could both gain access and influence. This man was a breath of fresh air and I for one sat there wishing for more of guys like him. I cannot wait for you all to watch the video of this session, I cannot wait!!

Now I know of course there are many feminist men, (my hubby, James B to name a couple) but my point is that there are not enough, and few that are in positions of power and influence like Kumi is. If you ask most men, and sadly some women, if they are feminist they are likely to say no. ( see definition below ) We need more, so many more feminist men, and it gives me great hope to know that Kumi is at Davos, is leading conversations about climate change around the world, is meeting with the top CEOs of the world at their request, and is one of us! He is someone who believes that gender inequality is the root cause of so much that ails the world and that reducing it offers the hope for what can heal it.

So here is the call to action Girlfriends. Increasingly see the recruitment and engagement of men, our men and men we do not know, as key to OUR success. Let’s help them understand that gender inequality is NOT a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue. Let’s help them understand that when women and girls are safe and secure, so are families, communities, and our nations. I must have said this 100 times on this blog, and I will say it 100 more. Reducing global gender inequalities – in leadership, education, political participation, wages, civic engagement, legal rights and more…. is what will help save and heal our planet. I know this with every ounce of my being and I will work, engage, fund, fight and march for this until the day I die. Join me and let me join you.

As for you men who might be reading this here is your call to action. I challenge you to ask yourselves do you believe that women and girls should have the same access, opportunity and security as men and boys have? If the answer is yes then think about why it is ok that women still earn in the country 77 % of what men earn? Why is it ok that women are largely absent from corporate boards and leadership positions? Why is it ok that 70% of the world’s poor women and children? Why is it ok that millions of girls go missing every year and so little is done about it? Why is it ok that you can buy the body of a teenage girl on Craig’s list? If none of this is ok, please ask yourself what are YOU going to do about it?

The great news is that it is not JUST about giving money to organizations that do this work, the work can begin in your home in terms of how you interact with and empower your wives, daughters, and yes, your sons too. Turning the TV off when you see women and girls objectified would be a great place to start. In the workplace, hire, mentor and encourage women, as well as men. We need so many more men understanding, caring about and acting like gender inequality matters TO THEM.

Thank you Women’s Funding Network Staff for an incredible few days at your annual conference, and I hope next year that if you are reading this and have not attended, you will. It is my goal as Vice-Chair of this organization to make this event the must attend gathering for those funding women and girls around the world.

Feminism has this definition - "the policy, practice and/or advocacy of political, economic and social equality for women." (It does NOT mean anti-men) For those of you, especially women, who say you are NOT feminists, I urge you to think about and explore the definition. Many people think it to be a very left wing political movement, which is not it's true definition.

If you just cannot for whatever reason embrace the word feminist consider owning this ...

Humanist - "a person having a strong interest in or concern for human welfare, values and dignity." Men and women, boys and girls.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gloria Steinem, Judy Chicago, Ana Deavere Smith and more....

It started at 10:30 pm Tuesday night. I landed in Denver for a gathering of "Women Moving Millions" prior to the Women's Funding Network Annual Conference, and headed straight in to a meeting with Gloria Steinem. Over water and orange juice, in a dirty meeting room we found our way in to, we spoke about the future of the women's movement. There were just three of us, and we shared thoughts about what it meant for the first time in history that women were stepping forward in a big and bold way to fund women and girls. We shared models and ideas and and and.... I truly had to pinch myself. Was I really there, in that discussion, with Gloria Steinem? Just a few hours later Gloria addressed a group of donors about what she thought was the significance of this community, and how we could help create a more just and equitable world. It is about bringing more resources to the tables, but it is so much more. It is about women claiming their voice and standing together to be heard.

After a glorious day of visioning phase two of WMM with some of the most incredible women on the planet we headed to a Dinner Party. It was just under a year ago that Women Moving Millions celebrated the end of their phase one campaign to encourage women and men to make million dollar gifts to women's funds. Their goal was $150 mm, and $180 million was raised. The celebration was held at the Brooklyn Museum, the home of Judy Chicago's Dinner Party. This important icon of feminist art after years of not being available to the public, found it's place in history thanks to Elizabeth Sackler. The story is told that she when she approached the Museum to say she wanted to create a center of Feminist Art for them they said, "great, but do we have to use the word feminist?" To that she answered, "if you want my money, yes you do." And so it is named. In a room in the museum a dinner party was staged for all those women and a few good men, who contributed to the campaign. This women claimed their space in history as the first every community of high-net worth women to fund women and girls. This year we celebrated not with the art, but with the artist, Judy Chicago. Judy talked to us about her inspiration behind the dinner party, the process of creating it, and perhaps most imporantly, her lifelong effort to bring recognition to women artists. She spoke, and gave shocking examples, of women that have been and continue to be erased from history. She is on a mission to give women artists their place in history and we all can help. Please check out Judy's website to learn more. Judy totally inspired me to seek out women artists when I am looking for art, and as importantly make sure we pressure the art organizations we are affliliated with to make sure women artists are included and added to their permanent collections. PS. This is one super cool lady!

So moments ago I had the honor of watching and listening to Anna Deavere Smith perform a one women show for the Women's Funding Network conference attendees. Anna is a writer, an actor, an activist, a playwrite.... a gift to this planet. Anna interviews women around the world, and performs as them, in their own words. She took us on a journey from behind prison walls with a women who stood silent as her boyfriend beat her daughter to death, to Stanford University with a woman from Rwanda who at 6 years old watched as her family members were killed, to a meeting with Anne Richards, just prior to her passing. Her performance was breathtaking in it's authenticity. To me, that is what makes women's gatherings like these different. Authenticity. I don't see women walking around pretending to be what they are not, but rather celebrating and enjoying both they are and why they are doing the work they are doing in the world. I listen to stories not of what vacation someone just went on, but what grantee partner just made a major milestone in their work. We talk about changing the world and stepping in to our power to do that. One day I truly hope that the room is filled not just with women, but with men too. Men that share in the understanding that you cannot leave out half the population and hope for good outcomes. Men that see that sharing power is not losing power, but expanding it. Men who realize that eliminating the effects of gender stereotyping is liberating not just for women, but for men as well. Men that realize that it is just not right, or fair, or tolerable, that thousands of women and children go missing, are uncounted, and are so much more likely to live in poverty.

Off to dinner with some completely amazing women... have a great evening.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Goldman and the SEC Case....

This from a friend of mine about the Goldman case....

"I have been studying this area for months now. The SEC case against Goldman is a very technical one on the issue of fair disclosure. The Wall Street Journal says the allegations were that Paulson initiated the idea of that deal and had been in discussions with respect to bond selection with the credit manager for the deal ACA. And the SEC feels that that fact should have been disclosed to investors. As stated, that is really a stretch.

The newspapers are putting on a different spin. That these deals were sucker plays in which investors were sold securities with the knowledge that another party was short the securities. What the papers fail to understand is that unlike with other securities, a credit default swap always has mirroring long and short positions from the get go. So for every synthetic CDO deal done, the investment bank knew (and investors should have known) there was someone buying protection out of the insurance created in the deal, hence short.

The much more troubling aspect of all this comes out of a much earlier NY Times article on December 24, 2009 by Gretchen Morgenson

That article says that Goldman created synthetic CDOs for the purpose of creating capacity in credit default swaps to cover its own long positions in real estate. And that it is the reason Goldman kept the policies on their books rather than sellling them off to likes of Paulson.

If that is the case, then Goldman could be criticized on its ethics and perhaps sued.

As an addendum, I used to wonder why insitutions were willing to invest in synthetic CDOs and thereby become the issuer of a credit default swap giving protection on pools of subprime mortgages. The answer is that writing a credit default swap and receving the quarterly "insurance premiums" plus owning a Treasury is equivalent to owning a high-yield bond, and a bond having a credit rating. "

This OPED in the Wall Street Journal today is certainly worth a read. They come to the defense of Goldman with respect to this case which has knocked off some $1o billion in market value, to be felt not just by Goldman people, but everyone who owns a share of stock. They say the "real impact of this case is political. The SEC charges conveniently arrive on the brink of the Senate debate over financial reform, and its supporters are already using the case to grease the bill's passage." The WSJ has critisized the firm in the past over many issues, but this is not one of them.

Here is the challenge - To bring appropriate reform to the financial system while maintaing sufficient confidence and trust in those implementing the reform, and those on the receiving end. They have to work together. I do not see this as a war where one side wins and the other loses, but rather working in partnership for a better long term outcome for all. I know... dream on.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Goldman Sachs - In the News

GS is in the news, again, and their stock tumbled, in reaction to a law suit brought on by th SEC alleging that Goldman engaged in fraud as it relates to a CDO transaction from 2007.

Their official reaction is that this suit is unfounded. The full suit can be found here. I have received many phone calls and emails asking what do I think? I have not worked at GS for 8 years, nor do I engage in any sort of discussions with them on this topic but many of the conversations with others have brought up the timing of this suit. The administration is obviously pushing for financial reform, and are having trouble getting it passed. The more outraged the public continues to get against Wall Street, the more pressure on politicians to pass a tough bill. The 'street' has obviouslybeen lobbying hard against it. Now could GS be in the wrong? I would have no idea one way or the other. What is clear is that the level of scrutiny has gone way, way up, and so has the risk associated with owning the stock of financial services companies.
Ironically I attended a panel yesterday yesterday on corporate ethics in the banking industy hosted by Auburn Seminary - the panel included Ken Feinburg ( the pay czar ), John Thain ( former GS President and now CIT CEO ), Beth Brooke ( Global Vice-Chair of Public Policy at Earnst and Young), and more....I cannot report on the discussion but I can write more on the topic, which I plan to do....

Auburn - "How Women Will Change the World in the 21st Century" and more...

Thursday was a very special day. My dear friend Katharine Henderson was inaugurated as the incoming President of Auburn Theological Seminary, and my did we celebrate both her and Auburn! The opening event was a panel discussion with some of the most incredible women I have ever met, and it was truly magical. Our moderator was Lynn Sherr, award winning broadcast journalist from ABC news ( pictured right), and an expert on Susan B. Anthony. We were brought together by Katharine as women of diverse faith backgrounds, but with much in common, a desire to make the world a better place. This panel was religious diversity in action! We talk often of why having a multitude of perspectives at the table can lead to better and more inclusive outcomes, and if you were there in the room on Thursday ( and I hope you can soon watch it on YOUTUBE) you would have been given the visual of that. My other panelists were as follows:

Maha Alkhateeb - The Co- Director of the Peaceful Families Project and a young Muslim, American woman leader. She is committed to help end domestic violence within Muslim families. Bless you Maha.

Sharon Brous - One of the 50 most influential women Rabbi's who's vision is to "build a Jewish community which stands at the intersection or rich spiritual and religious practice, and social justice. " Sharon spoke of how she tries to help bridge the space between what the world is, and what it ought to be. Sharon, you completely rock.

Yvette Flunder - Presiding Bishop, Senior Pastor of City of Refuge United Church of Christ, and African American. Yvette spoke of the power of the resurection, and how we might do that every day by helping and serving one another. Yvette I am your sister.

.... and last but not least.............

Valarie Kaur - An award winning filmaker, writer and lecturer and a Sikh American that has chosen to take a stand and be a voice of her generation, and her people. The Film is Divided We Fall - " is an end product of a human need to act in the face of racism, violence and disinformation" and I cannot wait to see it. This young, talented women speaks in poetry.. she has such a gift that I swear, she could be the first Sikh Woman President of the United States. She was, is, simply breathtaking in every way. An interview with Valarie. Her blog . The cool thing is she is currently attending Law School at Yale and we are going to have dinner very soon.....

So what did I leave thinking about "How Women Will Change the World in the Twenty-First Century?" That we will come to more significantly share in the power and decision making that shapes our world and in the process we will help redefine what success means and what outcomes are worthwhile. I see women of faith, these women, emerging as powerful voices that speak for justice and community. Our hope comes from men and women working together, in partnership, to heal the world.

Later that day at Bloomberg Auburn hosted another gathering - "Is Good Business Really Good Business? Corporate Character, Conduct and the Bottom Line." The participants were -

Beth Brooke - Global Vice Chair of Public Policy, Ernst and Young ( and a good friend)
Kenneth Feinberg - Special Master for TARP Executive Compensation
David Miller - Director, Princton University Faith and Work Initiative
Peter Rubinstein - Senior Rabbi, Central Synagogue
John Thain - CEO of CIT, Former Head of Merril Lynch and former President of Goldman Sachs ( and my former boss)
Peter Grauer - Chairman of Bloomberg

Unfortunately I cannot 'report' on the off the record conversation but I can share my own opinions on this topic. Of course I believe that ethical behavior is critical in business as it is in life, and I think most if not all people would say that. So the question is do people, do you, do you, do I, behave that way? If not, why not? Do you hold yourself accountable to some absolute level of ethical behavior or do you follow the rule of lowest common denominators? Meaning that if you can find someone that is exhibiting worse behavior then you, then you feel ok about what you are doing. I believe that is what happened on Wall Street, and elsewhere. Take the executive compensation issue. It was in good part the elevated pay of hedge fund managers that pushed Wall Street compensation higher. I heard all these people saying that "Joe Schmoe hedge fund dude make $20 mil last year ( or a billion in some cases ) and he was only a VP at Goldman before that, and I am an MD at GS ( or fill in the blank bank) , and only making $5. That is just not fair." Fair has become way way way to narrow and relative. But then you have to ask yourself how could a person make a billion dollars a year? Because people made the decision to give that person (firm) access to their money (or money they had ficuciary responsibility for ) and paid them 2 and 20 for doing so. No one forced them to do it. They chose to give that manager money and agreed to the compensation structure associated with it. The source of hedge fund assets are largely institutional which means indirectly, we all enabled it.

Do I think it is fair for someone to make a million, twenty million, a billion dollars a year for managing other people's money? What about what Tiger Woods get's paid, is that fair? How about Brad Pitt? Is it fair a child dies at the hand of an abusive parent, or that your sister get's cancer? No... none of this is fair. Yet just because life is not fair does not mean we as individuals should not try to act fairly. All we can do is choose to behave as fairly as we can in our day to day lives which includes being selective about what we do for a living and how we do it, how much money we give away, what products we buy, who we vote for and so on.....

So I don't try to answer the big question about what is fair and instead I rest in knowing God is fair. This is where Auburn and other religious institutions comes in. They create spaces to have these meaningful discussions. Ultimately I believe that I will all be held accountable for how I allocated the resources I have been given - the money, my talents, my opportunities, and so will we all. Life is not fair, God is.

Regardless of your belief system what we all can do is hold CEOs, their boards, their companies accountable, by choosing not to do or not do business with them based on their conduct and their values. This is how we all have the power to affect change. I must have mentioned this quote a hundred times on this blog - "Be the change you want to see in the world."

Happy Sunday.............

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Naked Capitalism - The Origins of the Next Crisis

I have to run in to the city but this piece is too good not to share. Read the Origins of the Next Crisis from Naked Capitalism. If you don't subscribe.. you should.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More on Learnvest plus AUDUR!!

I know I just blogged on Learnvest a few days ago, but I have to again. I am an investor in this fantastic company, and it is a great news story in terms of what is going to help drive us out of the economic wasteland. It is all about creating jobs, jobs, jobs and in order to do that you need capital flowing to start-ups and further up the private equity food chain. (Story in CRAINS) Please visit the Learnvest site and sign-up for the daily insights!

One way to get access to women entrepreneurs is through GOLDEN SEEDS, and angel investing network founded by the most fabulous Stephanie Hanbury Brown. Golden Seeds is planning to launch a FUND which leverages their investment process and when they do, count me in!!!
I had the pleasure of Stephanie's company and counsel today in a meeting with the equally fabulous Halla Tómasdóttir, Chairman of Audur Capital, a financial services firm emphasizing feminine values and social responsibility. I met Halla last fall in Deauville France and it feels like we must have been sisters in a former life. You may have read about Audur in the most recent article in New York Magazine's article "If Women Ran Wall Street." What were we talking about? Creating a financial services firm that leads with it's values - risk awareness, profit with principles. valuing emotional and intellectual capital, independence, transparancy and straight talk. If you are smelling something it is a lot of good ideas cooking....
Picture of Jacki, Kristin and Halla of Audur.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Asset Allocation - International Fixed Income

A few entries ago I mentioned that I was preparing for a quarterly asset allocation meeting and promised to share my thinking on the two asset classes I am responsible for - fixed income and currencies. Below please find a brief summary but please, this is not investment advice, it is food for thought....

2009 was clearly a great year for virtually all fixed income. Central banks around the world cut rates in hopes of preventing economic disaster, and by and large they did. By cutting short term rates to near zero, while credit spreads were wide, huge amounts of money poured in to credit products of all kinds tightening spreads dramatically. Since the saver got and still gets literally nothing to stay in short term cash equivalent instruments, the incentive was huge to look for incremental income whether one could find it. This opportunity and incentive, combined with government action in terms of ‘quantitative easing” leaves us where we are today. Spreads across all sectors have tightened dramatically, and it could be argued that overall rates are artificially low because of government purchases, again particularly in the US.

So what next? The direction of interest rates is clearly dependent on economic growth, and this is where we already have begun to see major differentiation by country depending on how quickly their economies have rebounded. Where growth has picked up, and concerns about inflation have begun to take hold, rates have been moving higher. In the US fed funds have remained at zero and there are mixed views as to when it will move higher. A few economists are calling for slightly higher rates by year end, and many others believe the fed will remain on hold well in to 2011 in fear of adding pressure to the housing market and choking off a possible recovery. Where the fed has less control obviously is the longer end of the curve. 10 year rates have been rising and are at the higher end of their recent range, pushing towards 4%. Most economists think that US rates are headed higher overall with a steep yield curve continuing.

What about spread products? In the US it is clear that the massive $1.7 trillion of fed purchases of MBS, Agencies and Treasuries has worked to keep both rates down and spreads tight. Given the treasury has already said they are stopping their purchase programs it seems logical that spreads should widen UNLESS of course other buyers emerge which I and most of the folks I read doubt. There has been significant supply in all sectors in Q1 but particularly in US Treasuries. US corporate issuance was $225 billion in Q1, High Yield was $67 billion, Treasuries $601 billion. So bottom line I would expect at a minimum for the tightening of spread products to end and pressure coming because of supply. On the positive side however, with cash yields anchored at zero, the positive carry of high quality credit remains attractive.

In summary – Q2 may prove a much turning point for the global bond markets on average. For countries experiencing an economic recovery rates may move higher to protect from higher inflation. This may also prove true for the US, but the more likely scenario is the absence of government purchase programs, combined with lots of supply, but pressure on both rates and spreads.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Women's History - Good Bye to Wilma Mankiller...

It is an evening like tonight that is the reason I created this blog. I am so incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to attend amazing gatherings, often in support in great causes, like the one this evening. I was invited by my dear friend Helen LaKelly Hunt, and the most spectacular Jennifer Buffet, to hear about TheWomen 2.0 Media Project. (soon to have a web-site and YOUT UBE clip so stay tuned ) I heard someone say today, that they never met a charitable project they did not like, and I am starting to feel that way as well. "This is a project whose purpose is to preserve and document the history of the women who changed modern America. It will start with a video archive of oral histories, and will become a documentary chronicling the modern women's movement."

There are many incredible people who are affiliated with this project, including Gloria Steinem. Gloria was suppose to be there tonight, but instead, was at the home of Wilma Mankiller , the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation, who passed away today. At around 9 pm the room was silenced, so we could all hear Gloria on the speaker phone tell us what knowing Wilma has meant to her. She spoke of her history, of her brilliance, of her leadership and of her courage. Those were moments I hope to never forget. Though I never had the opportunity to meet Ms. Mankiller, I plan to have a part in preserving her history, as she ( as well as Gloria, Helen and 97 others) is on the list of 100 women whose lives are to be documented with the project.

When people die, their stories are left to be told by someone else, unless they are given the opportunity to tell it themselves, and that is exactly what this project is all about. Too often women's stories are not even told at all. We are so far from gender equality, so far, and the stories of these women who were in many cases the first to..... need to be captured and shared. Please stay tuned for how to support this incredible initiative. ( PS - PBS is their partner in this...)This program simply must get funded. It must.

My best wishes go out to Gloria, and to the friends and family of Ms. Mankiller.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Kathy Lemay on SHEWRITES - plus, BE GENEROUS!!

If you have been reading this blog for a while you know that Kathy Lemay is one of my favorite people on this planet. Kathy is a feminist, an activist, a fund-raising genius, a giving coach, like the best friend ever and now, a published author! Kathy released her first book in January, The Generosity Plan: Sharing Your Time, Treasure, and Talent to Shape the World, and we all need to make it a best seller! Read my interview with Kathy on SHEWRITEs. This book needs to become a movement. Why? To make money for Kathy? ( no.. but that would be nice because she gives a heck of a lot of it away even WHEN she struggles to pay her bills) NO, this needs to be a movement because generosity and kindness is what WILL make the world better and Kathy shows us the way. Kathy is all about " doing what you can with what you have where you are." Here is the super cool part, for me. In about four hours we are going to be sitting on my sofa, having a glass of wine together, and celebrating her work. ( for more on the Generosity Plan )

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Learnvest - Round Two - I Believe - Women and Finance

I believe that at the root of this current financial and economic crisis is a lack of basic financial literacy. It is appalling that our children are not taught it in school, and I believe it is every parents responsibility therefore to teach it at home. I also believe the churches and other community organizations should make it a priority as well.

I also believe that at the root of this current financial and economic crisis is a lack of financial responsibility. This includes at an individual level people spending beyond their means, at the government level the same thing, and at the corporate level, particularly for financial institutions, selling and pushing products for which the main goal is making lots of money for themselves and not balancing the interests of their customers and clients. It has been one big money game that has in one way or another meant bad things for everyone!! This has to change, it has to, and it is up to every one of us to make that happen!!

One way I hoped to make a difference in this regard is investing in a start-up company called LEARNVEST. ( ) Learnvest is dedicated to making women more financially educated, empowered, responsible and savvy! It was started by Alexa Von Tobel, the gorgeous and smart young woman you see above. This was a big week for this company as they, we, just completed our venture capital funding round! Read all about it in the New York Times and Fortune. Thank you Accel for believing in us.
Many studies have shown that it is very hard for women to raise VC money, and it is women like Alexa, with great ideas that meet a market need that come to market with scalable businesses that will break it down!! Women and finance is HOT HOT HOT! Women and finance IS WHAT WILL BE DIFFERENT NEXT TIME AROUND. INVESTING IN WOMEN, AND WOMEN OWNED BUSINESSES, IS THE INVESTMENT THESIS THAT CAN MAKE MONEY AND CAN CHANGE THE WORLD FOR THE BETTER.

How you can help! Please spread the word. Join Learnvest's mailing list, encourage others to, help get this company and Alexa exposure!

Friday, April 2, 2010

I am very honored to know Janet Hanson, the founder of the 85 Broads Network. 85 was one of the FIRST women's networks that was created, set up orginally for women alumni of Goldman Sachs. It is now so much more than that. Janet has created a vibrant global platform for women of all ages who come to connect, learn and inspire. There are both live and virtual events going on all the time around the world, but something very special is happening in NYC in April. ( April 24th) 85 Broads is hosting a conference at NYW. To find out more click here. The Title is 2020Vision: The Future is Yours, and promises to be an incredible gathering and learning opportunity. Please consider joining the network, attending the conference, AND spreading the word!