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16

Oct

Ten years ago, Steve Jobs was alive, Bob Hope was alive and Johnny Cash was alive. Now we’re outta jobs, outta hope and and outta cash.

Don’t miss Peggy Noonan's witty and poetic analysis of the Occupy Wall Street movement in the Weekend Wall Street Journal. She nails it, as only she can do.

"This is No Time for Moderation" (an excerpt)

Ten years ago, we had Jobs, Cash and Hope.

OWS is not in itself important—it is obvious at this point that it’s less a political movement than a be-in. It’s unfocused, unserious in its aims. But it is an early expression, an early iteration, of something that is coming, and that is a rising up against current circumstances and arrangements. OWS is an expression of American discontent, and others will follow. The protests will grow as the economy gets worse.

A movement that will go nowhere but could do real damage would be “We hate the rich, let’s stick it to them.” Movements built on hatred are corrosive, and in the end corrode themselves. Ask Robespierre. In any case, the rich would leave. The rich are old, they feel like refugees in the new America anyway. A movement that would be helpful and could actually help bring change would be one that said, “Enough. Wall Street is selfish and dishonest, and Washington is selfish and dishonest. Together their selfishness and dishonesty, their operating as if they are not part of a whole, not part of a nation of relationships and responsibilities, tanked a great nation’s economy. We will reform.”

Why is this happening now, and not two years ago? Because at some point in the past year or six months, people started to realize: The economy really isn’t going to get better for a long time. Everyone seems to know in their gut that unemployment is going to stay bad or get worse. Everyone knows the jobless rate is higher than the government says, because they look around and see that more than 9% of their friends and family are un- or underemployed. People put on the news and hear about Europe and bankruptcy, and worry that it’s going to spread here. Eighteen months ago smart people could talk on TV about how we’re on a growth path and recovery will begin by fall of 2010. Nobody talks like that now.

And people have a sense that nothing’s going to get better unless something big is done, some fundamental change is made in our financial structures. It won’t be small-time rejiggering—a 5% cut in this tax, a 3% reduction in that program—that will get us out of this.

From Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal Opinion Page, October 15-16, 2011 (for the full article)

13

Oct

Occupy Wall Street: An Opportunity for Corporate Leadership
By: Deidre H. Campbell
Wall Street protestors cannot be dismissed as a mob in the streets. It’s a massive, growing demonstration of frustration. And, unfortunately, a lot of people in this country have good reason to be angry. They didn’t cause the economic crisis. But it’s sure impacting their ability to get jobs.
While Occupy Wall Street takes to the streets in 250 cities around the world, the financial services industry and Washington seemingly take no action. Even more frustrating is that the dialogue on Occupy Wall Street undermines its efforts as lacking messages and focus without making the larger connection.
The point is that it’s happening at all.
The energy of Occupy Wall Street is being wasted on inarticulate outrage, because it’s leaderless. The protesters, along with many in the general public, are crying out for someone to help them understand why the debt-ceiling problem remains unsolved, when the job market will recover, and where symbols of hope can be found.
We do have some great leaders in financial services that could credibly take action, grab the leadership mantle and provide solutions. Treat the entire situation like a sustained crisis, and the classic communication steps come into play – (1) apologize, (2) address the problem, and (3) make sure it doesn’t happen again.
·       Apologies can be tricky. A mere acknowledgment would go a long way in assuaging the wounded. These people are, after all, customers and hopefully future customers. They need to know that financial services institutions are committed to bringing their respective companies and especially their customers though this difficult period. Think Obama March 2008, bravely taking the race issue on front and center and then putting it behind everyone in the campaign. Look the issues dead in the eye and then move forward.
·       Addressing the problem will be far more complicated. While Occupy Wall Street has now expanded to mean “mad about everything”, the initial movement was able to cast a net around why this movement and why now. Too many student loans. No jobs to pay them back. Taking these two concerns as the premise of the movement, we can begin to address them through education and action.
·       Macro-economic Schooling: Consider that Occupy Wall Street is a microcosm of society. It is pretty clear that the demonstrators do not understand the global financial dynamics that are causing the drag on recovery. This is clear in their accusations heralded at the vaguely defined “Wall Street.” A financial education program that was honest, direct and delivered with straightforward language would be appreciated by everyone – far beyond the protestors. With greater understanding of domestic and global economic conditions, individuals can make better judgments for gauging progress and assessing the role of government and private sector in the progress.
·       Take on the Jobs Issue: Financial services companies take on a myriad of needs through their corporate responsibility program and foundation work. Why not take on the jobs issue first hand? Howard Schultz of Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) has been the first to take a step in that direction with its “Jobs for USA” program. Not that Starbucks can cure job market woes with a $5 million donation and themed bracelets for sale, but it’s interesting to see business take action with tangible steps toward solutions. Even while unemployment stays stubbornly at 9.2%, thousands of jobs – largely tech-based – remain unfilled based on the lack of individuals with the right skills. Financial services companies could fund jobs retraining programs for individuals with the right backgrounds to traverse the skills gap. By showing that they are taking the job issue on directly, companies could demonstrate their recognition of the problem and their determination to be part of the solution.
·        Making sure it doesn’t happen again is the final and often the most important step in moving through a crisis. The steps taken in this phase need to be real and long-lasting. Guided by the initial focus of Occupy Wall Street, it is the intersection of joblessness and debt that are causing widespread anxiety. For students, the feeling is that they were duped by “Wall Street” by making the debt so easily available to them for expensive educations only to rob them of jobs through market greed and short-sightedness. Making sure it doesn’t happen again requires education and remediation.  
·       Financial Education: Just like every other type debt, student aid was easy to get and enthusiastically encouraged. Certainly, no one foresaw this long lasting economic downturn, but the lax lending practices were at the heart of the crisis broadly. University-based financial education should be the center piece of financial services companies presence on-campus and online for this demographic. Companies are already there recruiting. If they are seen as a solid corporate citizens, those recruiting goals would be even easier. 
·       Take a Stand on Regulatory Reform: The general consensus is that financial services companies are pushing back on government efforts for regulatory reform. Frustration is felt because of the endless debate that doesn’t seem to result in any concrete reform efforts. This is where the lack of leadership is felt most harshly. With Washington firmly planted in presidential election mode, the opportunity is rich for financial services companies – even collectively – to propose regulations that  safeguard long-term financial security for all. The public (not just Occupy Wall Street) needs to know this situation won’t happen again.  
Without leadership and understanding, it’s not surprising that frustration is coming to a head – and not just in the United States. Remember, every protester is joined by thousands more equally frustrated and likely to take this angst out in other ways, like a lack of customer loyalty. Tackling the issues isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s good for the bottom line.
(Image: Wikipedia)

Occupy Wall Street: An Opportunity for Corporate Leadership

By: Deidre H. Campbell

Wall Street protestors cannot be dismissed as a mob in the streets. It’s a massive, growing demonstration of frustration. And, unfortunately, a lot of people in this country have good reason to be angry. They didn’t cause the economic crisis. But it’s sure impacting their ability to get jobs.

While Occupy Wall Street takes to the streets in 250 cities around the world, the financial services industry and Washington seemingly take no action. Even more frustrating is that the dialogue on Occupy Wall Street undermines its efforts as lacking messages and focus without making the larger connection.

The point is that it’s happening at all.

The energy of Occupy Wall Street is being wasted on inarticulate outrage, because it’s leaderless. The protesters, along with many in the general public, are crying out for someone to help them understand why the debt-ceiling problem remains unsolved, when the job market will recover, and where symbols of hope can be found.

We do have some great leaders in financial services that could credibly take action, grab the leadership mantle and provide solutions. Treat the entire situation like a sustained crisis, and the classic communication steps come into play – (1) apologize, (2) address the problem, and (3) make sure it doesn’t happen again.

·       Apologies can be tricky. A mere acknowledgment would go a long way in assuaging the wounded. These people are, after all, customers and hopefully future customers. They need to know that financial services institutions are committed to bringing their respective companies and especially their customers though this difficult period. Think Obama March 2008, bravely taking the race issue on front and center and then putting it behind everyone in the campaign. Look the issues dead in the eye and then move forward.

·       Addressing the problem will be far more complicated. While Occupy Wall Street has now expanded to mean “mad about everything”, the initial movement was able to cast a net around why this movement and why now. Too many student loans. No jobs to pay them back. Taking these two concerns as the premise of the movement, we can begin to address them through education and action.

·       Macro-economic Schooling: Consider that Occupy Wall Street is a microcosm of society. It is pretty clear that the demonstrators do not understand the global financial dynamics that are causing the drag on recovery. This is clear in their accusations heralded at the vaguely defined “Wall Street.” A financial education program that was honest, direct and delivered with straightforward language would be appreciated by everyone – far beyond the protestors. With greater understanding of domestic and global economic conditions, individuals can make better judgments for gauging progress and assessing the role of government and private sector in the progress.

·       Take on the Jobs Issue: Financial services companies take on a myriad of needs through their corporate responsibility program and foundation work. Why not take on the jobs issue first hand? Howard Schultz of Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) has been the first to take a step in that direction with its “Jobs for USA” program. Not that Starbucks can cure job market woes with a $5 million donation and themed bracelets for sale, but it’s interesting to see business take action with tangible steps toward solutions. Even while unemployment stays stubbornly at 9.2%, thousands of jobs – largely tech-based – remain unfilled based on the lack of individuals with the right skills. Financial services companies could fund jobs retraining programs for individuals with the right backgrounds to traverse the skills gap. By showing that they are taking the job issue on directly, companies could demonstrate their recognition of the problem and their determination to be part of the solution.

·        Making sure it doesn’t happen again is the final and often the most important step in moving through a crisis. The steps taken in this phase need to be real and long-lasting. Guided by the initial focus of Occupy Wall Street, it is the intersection of joblessness and debt that are causing widespread anxiety. For students, the feeling is that they were duped by “Wall Street” by making the debt so easily available to them for expensive educations only to rob them of jobs through market greed and short-sightedness. Making sure it doesn’t happen again requires education and remediation. 

·       Financial Education: Just like every other type debt, student aid was easy to get and enthusiastically encouraged. Certainly, no one foresaw this long lasting economic downturn, but the lax lending practices were at the heart of the crisis broadly. University-based financial education should be the center piece of financial services companies presence on-campus and online for this demographic. Companies are already there recruiting. If they are seen as a solid corporate citizens, those recruiting goals would be even easier.

·       Take a Stand on Regulatory Reform: The general consensus is that financial services companies are pushing back on government efforts for regulatory reform. Frustration is felt because of the endless debate that doesn’t seem to result in any concrete reform efforts. This is where the lack of leadership is felt most harshly. With Washington firmly planted in presidential election mode, the opportunity is rich for financial services companies – even collectively – to propose regulations that  safeguard long-term financial security for all. The public (not just Occupy Wall Street) needs to know this situation won’t happen again. 

Without leadership and understanding, it’s not surprising that frustration is coming to a head – and not just in the United States. Remember, every protester is joined by thousands more equally frustrated and likely to take this angst out in other ways, like a lack of customer loyalty. Tackling the issues isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s good for the bottom line.

(Image: Wikipedia)

17

Sep

NYT video w/ Goldman Chairman Lloyd Blankfein at the 3rd anniversary of the Recession on leadership and employee engagement.

debraflanz:

It’s the third anniversary of the Great Recession and the discussion now is about Europe’s financial crisis.  On the bright side, it’s noteworthy that a number of global financial institutions have been weathering the storm successfully by using strong leadership principles.   

Here is a video interview of Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, from 2009 talking about how he successfully led the company through the initial crisis.  Some key points: “talk to your people frequently”, “walk around”, and  “answer questions.  Sounds like great advice whether or not there’s a financial crisis going on.

21

Aug

Pinched: How the Great Recession Has Narrowed Our Futures and What We Can Do About It
I enjoyed a lecture today from The Atlantic Features Editor Don Peck on his new book, Pinched. Rather than more finger pointing and crystal ball gazing, Peck offers realistic suggestions on how we improve the situation — and the U.S. global reputation while we’re at it.
Peck calls on government, business and individuals to take actions necessary to get the macro economy back on the right track.
Ultimately, it’s up to all of us after all.
 

Pinched: How the Great Recession Has Narrowed Our Futures and What We Can Do About It

I enjoyed a lecture today from The Atlantic Features Editor Don Peck on his new book, Pinched. Rather than more finger pointing and crystal ball gazing, Peck offers realistic suggestions on how we improve the situation — and the U.S. global reputation while we’re at it.

Peck calls on government, business and individuals to take actions necessary to get the macro economy back on the right track.

Ultimately, it’s up to all of us after all.

 

14

Aug

Economic Breakdown Song (Now on iTunes!) (by JonSlagle)

This music video was created for an Economics Final at Frontier High School in Bakersfield by four classmates. It was written on Thursday, Song recorded on Friday, Shot in 5 hours on Saturday, Edited on Monday - with a couple of pick-up shots. Final editing and mastering on Tuesday and turned in on Wednesday morning.

03

Aug

The Unexpected
Sharon Epperson of CNBC has been a long time advocate of financial literacy, devoting her career to public education and having served on the board of the Council for Economic Education.
Here, Sharon puts aside the grieving of her father to share their family’s story of financial security through his forward-looking family care to ensure his family would be well in his absence.

The Unexpected

Sharon Epperson of CNBC has been a long time advocate of financial literacy, devoting her career to public education and having served on the board of the Council for Economic Education.

Here, Sharon puts aside the grieving of her father to share their family’s story of financial security through his forward-looking family care to ensure his family would be well in his absence.

20

Jul

The Language of Finance: Bloomberg “Your Money”

YouTube is a treasure trove of all things these days. That certainly extends to financial literacy. This helpful video reinforces the basic components that comprise one’s financial profile. In four minutes, Ann Griffin from Ameriprise Financial Services explains these concepts in straightforward language. You may learn a thing or two or just use as a good reinforcement.

YouTube hosts a broad series of useful video on financial literacy basics at Bloomberg: Your Money.

18

Jul

WSJ Says, “Read This Before You Die”
The Wall Street Journal ran this useful article on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Such a beautiful day, in fact, that I could not bear to think about preparation for death. Nor could I face the guilt of how many of these critical prepatory steps that I’ve not gotten to or even considered. This past very hot weekend kept me inside to face the facts of what I must know and how very much is left for me to prepare.
I’m quite grateful to the author, Saabira Chaudhuri, for amassing this list. I place it here for virtual safekeeping as I get to all the important tasks needed to safeguard my family.
After all, it’s what we live for … right? It’s worth a good look on a rainy day.
Image: Google Images

WSJ Says, “Read This Before You Die”

The Wall Street Journal ran this useful article on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Such a beautiful day, in fact, that I could not bear to think about preparation for death. Nor could I face the guilt of how many of these critical prepatory steps that I’ve not gotten to or even considered. This past very hot weekend kept me inside to face the facts of what I must know and how very much is left for me to prepare.

I’m quite grateful to the author, Saabira Chaudhuri, for amassing this list. I place it here for virtual safekeeping as I get to all the important tasks needed to safeguard my family.

After all, it’s what we live for … right? It’s worth a good look on a rainy day.

Image: Google Images

10

Jul

Coming Up Roses
On a more positive note, Americans are doing much better in the credit department. This week’s Bloomberg BusinessWeek showcases this high note in “Escape from the Great American Debt Trap.”
According to Equifax, the average American credit rating rose to 696 in May — cited as the “highest in at least four years.” For many, this has been a hard fought battle, but one that impacts our own financial independence dramatically.
A rose by any other name … 
Image: From my backyard

Coming Up Roses

On a more positive note, Americans are doing much better in the credit department. This week’s Bloomberg BusinessWeek showcases this high note in “Escape from the Great American Debt Trap.”

According to Equifax, the average American credit rating rose to 696 in May — cited as the “highest in at least four years.” For many, this has been a hard fought battle, but one that impacts our own financial independence dramatically.

A rose by any other name … 

Image: From my backyard

29

Jun

"How to Turn Teen Girls into Financial Prodigies" on Today Money 
The ING-Girls, Inc. Investment Challenge is another great example of how financial institutions can quite easily make a real impact to encourage financial literacy. While we know that one’s financial education comes largely from within the family, we know just as well that the bad habits of this generation should not be passed down. By taking a practical, long-term approach, ING offers the Girls, Inc. organization a program that can be easily replicated at the local level throughout the country. Continued reinforcement of the importance of financial literacy will not only ensure economic empowerment for the program participants, but will create greater long-term global financial stability for us all.
Image: Google Images

"How to Turn Teen Girls into Financial Prodigies" on Today Money 

The ING-Girls, Inc. Investment Challenge is another great example of how financial institutions can quite easily make a real impact to encourage financial literacy. While we know that one’s financial education comes largely from within the family, we know just as well that the bad habits of this generation should not be passed down. By taking a practical, long-term approach, ING offers the Girls, Inc. organization a program that can be easily replicated at the local level throughout the country. Continued reinforcement of the importance of financial literacy will not only ensure economic empowerment for the program participants, but will create greater long-term global financial stability for us all.

Image: Google Images