The Financial Crisis – A Great Summary

Thanks to Baseline Scenerio here is a very good summary of the causes of the financial crisis by the “La Follette Policy Report” from the University of Wilsconsin Madison. Last year I gave a number of speeches on this topic and it is good to see our lists match up. Interest rates that were kept to long for too long was a primary culprit, as was US overconsumption. These factors are related to what they call the “”capital flow cycle” in which foreign capital floods a country, stimulates as economic boom, encourages financial leverage and risk taking, and eventually culminates in a crash.” Of course we are now in the process of trying to reverse much of this, though large US budget deficits will be pulling in excess foreign capital for some time to come. Meanwhile US consumption can no longer be the driver of global growth and “who will take up this role remains the next big question.”

Home Sweet Home plus Home Prices

We are back in Connecticut and it truly is good to be home. Facing two months of mail and half-processed emails? Not so good. I am sure I am not the only one that treats September 1st as the New Year. With school age kids it is a natural new beginning with a fresh set of resolutions and priorities. Although I know the ‘to do list’ is a life necessity, last night I actually dreamt I was being strangled by it. Good thing one of the items on it was to learn to meditate to decrease stress. All good. All good.

The headlines over the past few days were filled with “Signs of Life” over New Home Sales, with many calling for the end of the housing crisis. It was also reported on Wednesday that the “latest Standard and Poor’s Case Shiller home price index showed improvement in 18 of the 20 cities tracked.” (NYT) Again, better news, just not good news. From a person who has two properties on the market, one in Canada and one here, from where I sit the market continues to be down and dead. ( granted we are at a higher price point on both properties)

The key to the end of the recession is employment. The pom poms seem to be coming out when the numbers entering in to unemployment from one month to the next stop getting worse, but the key will be for them to turn positive, which still seems a way off. I have read many reports that suggest when you account for those underemployed or those seeking employment yet not part of the ‘unemployed count’ the actual percentage is in the mid to upper teens. Not good. Watch those numbers for true signs of recovery.

Happy end of summer to all….

Nicholas Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn and Goodbye to Canada….

We are saying goodbye to Kelowna this morning, after yet another wonderful summer visit. Since leaving Goldman Sachs in 2002 we have been coming here and it truly has become our family tradition. This discussion around the dinner table last night was whether we were going to set up a full-fledged fruit stand next year or continue with an overturned apple bin. Soon I will take one last walk with my dog Sunnie around the perimeter of the property, throwing apples from the ground for her to chase and stopping at the raspberry bush to pick her a handful. I am blessed indeed.

Be sure to pick up the NYTimes this weekend and watch for the magazine section. I am told it is all about women! This essay by Lisa Belkin features Women Moving Millions and the Womens Funding Network. The main piece, I understand, is about the new book to arrive September 8th by Nickolas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. I am honored to know these fabulous people and I cannot wait to read “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression to Opportunity for Women Worldwide.” Be SURE to pick up a copy and right a review for them on Amazon. Change is happening. Positive change towards gender equality. It will be the force that changes the world for the better. I know it.

Just checked – it is on line. Here is is! “Saving the World’s Women
Oh my gosh – The HALF THE SKY contest! What a brilliant idea. BRILLIANT…. submit, submit, submit!!! What an amazing way to gather who is doing what in this space. Brilliant.