CAROL’S BIZNESS BLURBS
Last British Retail Christmas? According to the Economist, Britons will be the end of ye olde curiosity shoppes. Shuttered Herrods. Marks & Sparks? Yup. Maybe by next yuletide. Online shopping is rampant on the relatively small British isle where distribution centers can get stuff to doorsteps likety-split. Usually within a day. It’ll happen soon in the U.S.A. 11/16
Too Big To Manage. Glass-Steagall resurrection won’t heal the banking system. Segregating commercial and investment entities never worked. Senior executives were always able to peer over the so-called Chinese wall. Amalgamations have caused unwieldy national behemoths. Incompetence at the top. Incestuous Boards. Obscene compensation assured. Cue Stumpf. Wells Fargo’s dufey CEO. Typical of the genre. Isolated from business units. De-centralized disparate cultures left to their own devices. By the time the OCC gets involved at least 5 years of fraudulent practices to rein in. Fire a bunch of low-level guys as a PR stunt. Too big to manage. Too big to fail. 10/16
YERP Tipping Point? Finally! Somebody is singing my song. Joseph Stiglitz’ new book The Euro: How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe. Amazon’s summary. “Europe’s stagnation and bleak outlook are a direct result of the fundamental challenges in having a diverse group of countries share a common currency―the euro was flawed at birth… The question then is: Can the euro be saved? … With its lessons for globalization in a world economy ever more deeply connected, The Euro is urgent and essential reading.” Yup. That’s what I’ve always said. YERP’s demise will recall centuries of nationalism. 8/16/16
YERP-ean Vacation. American tourists’ stock proclamation. “We’re going to YERP this summer.” If it’s Tuesday it must be Belgium. Guided bus tours and Viking river cruises. Groups going from one YERP-ean country to the next. Sweden? No. Switzerland? Where are we today? As in Bermuda shorts high-socks wearing wanderers. Then in 1992 it became an economic experiment. The EU. The Euro. Central Bank Chairs thought it could succeed. YERP. Despite centuries of ingrained cultures and histories. Former enemies financial friends. Nope. Never thought it would work. Globalization is not in style, Hillary. Mark Cuban. Warren Buffett. 7/16
BREXIT. NEXIT. On June 23rd, the referendum for Great Britain to exit the EU may pass. Netherlands next. Dominoes falling. Summer migration looming. Could my 1992 prediction finally come true? Cultural clashes and fear may be the death of ‘Yerp’ yet. 6/16
Globalism vs. Nationalism. Hedge fund heads will back Hillary. Globalism. It is here to stay. Financial borders are non-existent. A retrenching to contained economies is impossible. Hearts love Sanders and Trump. Nationalism. Reality nothwithstanding. Contradiction of a desire for a higher minimum wage and trade restrictions. Great Britain also wants to go back to the old country. Blexit may pass. Denial. 5/16
Europe on the Brink. Refugee crisis causing cataclysmic shifts in economies and cultures in European nations. Finally the demise of Yerp? Splintering back into its historical roots. Retreating. Retrenching. Yet. If U.S. does not act to prop up these countries with proactive financial aid it too will sink under the weight of a global collapse. 4/16
Quantitative Resistance. Quantitative easing no longer works. Central Banks and The Fed have run out of pills for an arcane anemic global economy. Interest rates are at 0%. Sub-zero is not a fix to stimulate. Neither Cialis nor Viagra. It’s back to basics. Bump and grind. But, how and what? Robots replacing assembly lines. Retail on life support. Replacement therapy necessary. 2/16
Global Rotation. As the U.K. contemplates opting out of the E.U., Germany reels from reality of refugees. European economy on the brink. China weak. Markets turn. The world tilts toward Nationalism and Socialism. Even here in America. Donald Trump. Bernie Sanders. Oligarchies topple toward protectionism and the people.
The system has proven to be rigged. Danger. It could stay that way. Hillary lost big and yet has more delegates. Bush is gaining strength. We could be careening back to the status quo. Illuminati dynasty backing is strong. Follow the money. Or. Take a chance and rotate? 2/16
Happy New Year Once Again! As you can see below, Happy New Year 2015, I was right. The market stayed flat and over 17,000. So, there. I’m thinking more volatility in 2016. 1/3/16
Hillary Clinton’s NYTimes Op-Ed on Regulating Wall Street. She leans left to address the Warren-Sanders wing. Risk fees, independent regulators, too big to jail, compensation hits to CEO’s. All pander well to OWS. But, broken record alert. My comment on her column continues an insider belief that only if regulators are rewarded financially the same as Wall Street market-makers can there be a real change. The Times picked my view. 12/15
Nationalism’s Global Spread. Buy Local. As protectionists gain popularity and power in Europe and Canada, Trumpistas here at home, invest in products made in the U.S.A. It’s a trend. Do the research, though. 11/15
Religious Wars Always More About Economics. Throughout history so-called religious wars have been at their true core about property, power for wealth, essentially economic pursuits. So is true of the ISIS Islamist-labeled global jihad. The underlying cause is lack of personal opportunities to support families and have gainful employment. 11/15
Bottom Out? China markets plunge. Global indices follow. Fundamentally speaking there are still few places to invest. Real estate. Equities. No other instruments have the potential for a meaningful return. Risk. Reward. Institutional portfolio makers have no where else to go. So, hang tight. Stocks will be at 17,000 again at year-end. Of course, I have no more idea what I am talking about than anybody else. Common sense and logic will hopefully prevail. 8/15
Drach EU ma. Greece defaults on IMF payment. The ancient sovereign vampire is poised to suck the blood out of the EU. Taking the world markets with it. Count Drachma may emerge from his crypt. Will the ruble now see daylight? Euroland is vulnerable to a global financial bite. Twenty years later than I’d guessed, the death knell of a continental experiment. 6/30/15
Ogilvy New York wins Effie for most effective individual ad agency in North America. Congrats O&M and mAdBen! Ogilvy & Mather was recognized with top accolades last night as both O&M North America and the New York office were recognized as the most effective agency network and individual office of the year in their respective categories. In total, the O&M network won 17 awards across categories including two Gold, nine Silver and six Bronze Effies for noteworthy work on behalf of clients such as IBM, British Airways, IHG, Nestlé, Kimberly-Clark and Caterpillar. 6/5/15
Senator Warren is Wrong on Trade Deal. Her throwaway clichés rarely have heft. This one is a doozy. It’s a global economy, Senator W. That ship has sailed. American workers will never make widgets again. Labor costs (thanks unions) are too high here. If we don’t want a military industrial complex which survives only by waging wars, then we need trading partners to retain leverage for alliances with countries in the Pacific Rim. That way we can afford to spend our money on infrastructure. Instead of tanks and bombs. 5/15
Know Your Value? Dear Mika: The best way for women to know their value is to bring value to their job by doing it very well. They will get ahead. Get paid the same as men. The worst way to get remunerated for your value is to form women “mentoring” aka complaint groups. Stop talking so much! Men take time for family, soccer games, sick kids. They just do it without making everyone around them acutely aware that they are doing so. I generalize. But, it’s true. 4/15
Happy New Year!: Until interest rates rise, there is still no place to play but the stock market. Unless you like higher risk real estate. So. No reason to doubt continued levels above 17,000. Just keep it diversified. 1/15
Blurred Lines: 29-year-old former NY Fed regulator goes to Goldman Sachs to advise banks he once investigated. No news here. Regulators from all agencies who are any good, get enticed to jump. Who wouldn’t for big bucks v. comparatively mediocre remuneration? Accounting firms, too. Crossing over to former corporate clients’ competitors. Flimsy barriers within institutions themselves. So-called Chinese walls peeked over. With binoculars. 11/14
AIG LawSuit Against Fed: Former NY Fed Chair, Tim Geithner took tough questions from Hank Greenberg’s stellar legal eagles headed by David Boies. Bottom line, Geithner says risk-taking had no constraints so they had to act to mitigate financial collapse outside precedents. And, oh by the way, risk is still unconstrained today. See SideBizness posts below. 10/14
Bad CEO’s Rule: Robert McDonald was a lousy CEO of Proctor & Gamble. Now, he’s been tapped to head up the screwed up Veteran’s Administration. Carly Fiorina stunk at Hewlitt Packard and was basically fired. Now, she’s a talking head expert who ran for President. Another CEO I know went from Black & Decker to Polaroid. Need I say more? 8/14
Tim Egan’s Column “Commencement Bigots”. My comment a NYTimes Pick as follows: “Make up your minds, seniors at Smith. One of few remaining all-female colleges. Do you want to see women succeed? Break the glass ceiling? Become leaders on the global stage? Christine Lagarde would have been the perfect speaker at your graduation because she has accomplished all you should aspire to. You could have learned so much from hearing her perspective. You don’t have to agree. Would you rather a man lead the IMF, banks, corporations, businesses? You have a great Economics Department whose professors all disagree with your protests. Good for them!
As an alum of Mount Holyoke, the first and still all-women’s college, Smith students’ narrow world view is particularly disappointing. In the 1970’s we would have rejoiced in the successes of all women no matter the industry they chose. We would have listened with a Liberal Arts open mind. Now we should only value women who climb the ranks as selective activists of non-profits, healthcare, education, social work? Hmmm. Sounds like we’ve evolved to 1955! And we wonder why men are still running the world?! ” 5/14
The Perfect Prey, The Fall of ABN AMRO, or What Went Wrong in the Banking Industry, by Jeroen Smit.
After the April 2014 tragic family murder-suicide by former CEO Schmittmann was reported in the NY Post, I did some research as an ABN AMRO Bank alum, and former Managing Director. I found this paperback and it read like a novel. The story was well told and compelling- the demise of a once prestigious global financial institution. A lot of the players are known to me from my tenure at the Bank in San Francisco and Boston in the 80’s and 90’s. Lex Kloosterman, my former boss, went on to Fortis and was instrumental in the tale and ultimate sale with Mr. Schmittmann. Probably not a wide audience for this book. I would recommend it as an allegory- too big yet failed. A moral tragedy.
Flash Boys by Michael Lewis, new book coming out. It’s about the split second trades that no one can regulate around. But, not a new story. Been going on since I left the scene back at the turn of the century. See many posts below. Lewis will be on 60 Minutes, should be good. 3/14
New Aetna Campaign: NYTimes; OurHealthy targets employers in anticipation of Affordable Health Care rollout. Congrats mAdBen!
Matt Levine Joins BloombergView: Recently of DealBreaker fame, Matt is moving to Bloomberg as a financial industry columnist. Congrats, nephew! 10/13
Warren–McCain?: Quite the odd couple. They want to reinstate Glass-Steagall. Good intentions. But, it’s an anachronism. We’ve entered the electronics age. Even if banks segregate at-risk assets on commercial side from investment deals, the risk just shifts. The entities still rely on profits from split-second trades, derivatives and new instruments invented way ahead of the regulators ever catching up. Problem persists. Power concentrated in a few U.S. Banks. Each too big to fail. 7/16/13
Europe’s Social Contract, Lying in Pieces: Greeks will never be Germans. Spaniards will never be Frenchmen. Mediterranean peoples will never become Prussian. Austerity will lead to fringe elements rising up to fill the void as middle class disappears and frustration turns to desperation. 6/9/13
‘Yerp’ Leadership Dithering?: Steve Rattner, 5/11/13 NYTimes, thinks EU should speed up its ‘all for one and one for all’ currency, regulations, structure. He likens it to strong states making up for weak U.S. states. Centuries of culture and history of the strong and weak European States is not the same.
Jamie Dimon Should Stay JPMorgan CEO: Good call by the Board. Dimon has never been the problem. Nothing will change until regulators make as much and know as much as traders. They can’t ban financial instruments before they even know they exist. And no executive can risk manage around mega-lightning strikes that occur in nanoseconds. 5/13
‘Yerp’- Collateral Damage: Youth are propping up the Euro as they are forced to retreat into childhood bedrooms, educations squandered for an artificial notion. Centuries of distinct cultures cannot prevail as a united economic fantasy. Europe’s folly will produce idle millennials, to the detriment of global stability.
Main Street vs. Bain Street-. Why is Mitt surprised? He’s been running for President for like 10 years. He never thought the subject of his managerial role at Bain would come up? With documents from the SEC? He should have had his ducks in a row. Zzzomney was in the bizness of maximizing profits. At any cost. For shareholders. That means downsizing. Outsourcing. Geez. Wasn’t anybody around in the 90’s? Personal tax shelters. Okay, maybe in the old days. But, last year? Perception is everything. This is not competence we can believe in. The entitled on Bain Street need not heed the problems of Main Street. Until they run for office. Arrogance or ignorance? Either way, scary. 8/12
AntiGlobalBanking- Until regulators are hired with the same quant skills as traders, get compensated at least as well, and have cross-border reach, Jamie Dimon, Congress, Obama- nobody can change Wall Street! Broken record alert. How many times do I have to say it?
Yerp: Tear Down Those Walls- Once again I resurrect the “Yerp” specter. As Frank Bruni writes in April 22, 2012 NYTimes, graffiti on walls in Portugal tell the tale. Frustration, futility. Greece, Spain, too. Germany holds the purse strings, but they are also losers. The stronger economies are being pulled down by cultural clashes with unlike-minded governments. It was bound to happen. Another ‘I thought so’ moment from the 1992 idea. As they tear down each other’s walls, will ours crumble with theirs?
GoldmanGreedy?– OpEd NYTimes. Goldman guy disses culture at Goldman Sachs as he resigns. Me thinks his bonus was crappy. There’s more to this story. Client first? Never. Profit first. Always. As quants get smarter and bolder, bonuses for outré derivatives sky-rocketed. Pushing the envelope? Of course. That’s what they do. That’s what they will continue to do. Duh.
BainStreet- As Occupy Wall Street gets dismantled, the focus returns to Main Street. Big banks are not the “bane” of our existence, neither are large corporations. Without them, we have no economic base nor growth. It’s the “too big to fail” phenomenon that is the real issue. Regulators with no depth of financial knowledge, laws with no teeth. Look at Congress getting legal insider trading information and acting on it. Who writes the rules? Who enforces them? I was running the Boston office of a behemoth bank when Romney was still at Bain Capital there in the mid-late 90’s. We took senior strips of their mezzanine deals. Some created jobs, others eliminated them. ‘Flip-flopper’? No. Romney’s a pragmatist businessman who wants to close the deal.
YerpOut- Back in the early 90’s when there was talk of a European Union forming with one currency, I was a naysayer. I could not imagine countries with centuries of distinct cultures, languages, economic roots ever agreeing on anything as one entity. An article in The Economist, entitled ‘Yerp’ caught my attention at the time. It was a kindred cynical satirical view using the American tourist term for the continent. “We’re heading off to ‘Yerp’ for vacation in August.” As if Europe were just one big happy country. Never thought it could actually become so. Wrong. The EU formed in 1998 with the Euro its common currency. However, as Paul Krugman says today, maybe we were right.
ElevatorEcon- Dow up 100, down 200, up 300, down 50. So what? Daily elevator market reports are meaningless. Where else is there to put money? CD’s, money market, bonds, treasuries? Might as well put your money under the mattress. Same return. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Risk. Reward. It’s silly to invest in individual stocks these days, value analysis no longer predictive nor rational. Management, balance sheet, free cash flow don’t drive stock price. Quants play games with derivatives and other new financial doo-dads such that mere mortals and especially rating agencies and regulators can never keep up. So, if you’re in equities, stay in industry sectors that make sense for the long term. And, if you’re a geezer, stuff your bucks under the bed.
Rating Agencies Redux- Back in 1982, Crocker Bank of San Francisco was a major financial force in the U.S. Then it decided to invest in Latin America. Sovereign risk analysis is where I started my career there. We did a pretty accurate job in-house with input from managers in every country. Crocker’s new owner Midland Bank Plc made decisions based on superficial rating agencies assessments instead. RIP soon thereafter. 20 years later, never changed my opinion of these inept bean-counters. AA+ really?! Who cares what S&P thinks?
EconQuake, August 2011- Shifting faults. Germany can’t hold together tectonic States. Euro on the brink. Asia shaky. America reverberating from shock waves of government dysfunction. Confidence cratering. Liquidity tight long term. Banks, large corporations doing more with less. Big profits. Sitting on cash. Where to put it? What’s going to replace dinosaur industries? There’s nothing on the horizon to mend the cracks. The world is flat, a whole earth economy. It’ll be quite a while ’til the global aftershocks subside. At least through 2012.
Then, either the Mayans are right or there will be a new seismic bubble.
CNBC Republican Debate– BizBate- Bottom Line. Great debate. CNBC moderators demanded net answers. No gross profits for prurient media value. With the exception of ‘platitude Perry pause’, candidates were kept to economic topics. Huntsman and Romney prevailed on global knowledge. Private competition good, God help the environment. Balance sheet of our times. Fannie & Freddy out. Lucy & Ricky in. Too small to succeed, too big to fail. How to reconcile this P&L? Healthcare outsourced to WalMart.
Debt Ceiling Scariness? Jack Cafferty asked what his viewers’ biggest fear would be if the U.S. doesn’t raise the debt ceiling. He read my response live on the air during CNN’s Situation Room, July 18, 2011.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Portends Bad Times for Long Time- Tim Geithner says rough economic times will persist for a long time to come. Do you agree. See if I do here on July 11, 2011’s CNN Cafferty File.
HuntsMen- Mormon wars? Huntsman v. Romney? Jon Huntsman, Sr. and I go back to 1986 in the banking bizness. Jon, Jr. dipped in and out of Huntsman Chemical, and was on hand when his Dad gave me a salute at the family’s Park City ski lodge in 1994. Not surprised that Jon Jr. would run for Prez, but shocked that he’d do it this year against another Mormon. That doesn’t happen in LDS-land. Huntsmans and Romneys have deep ties to each other and the Church. Huntsman’s campaign advisors come from the McCain camp. There’s gotta be more to this story… June 2011
Spend, Don’t Cut- Old SF pal, Laura Tyson’s op-ed in the Financial Times promotes more spending during this economic downturn. She was Clinton’s economic adviser, maybe we should listen? Laura’s a Smith College Alum.
Budget Madness, Tipping Point- The unspoken code is that the country is at a cultural tipping point. Atlas shrugging on the right, wealth sharing on the left. Producers vs. Moochers. The truth lies in between. Both ends of the class spectrum are gaming the system, poor and rich. The middle class gets stuck with the real burden. Thus, Tea Party is born. Socialization of risk vs. privatization of reward. But, don’t take anybody’s Medicare away.
Stop Whining Women!- Pay Equality Day?! Give me a break. Carrie Lukas, Wall Street Journal reports that men and women make the same amount for the same work if time and job type are equal. In many cases, women make more. The myth that women make 77% of what men do is based on mix of career paths, and actual hours put in. No more whining women daze. Please.
Upside Down Econ- College tuition costs higher than ever. Job market shrinking. Life span longer than ever. Retirement benefits, savings insufficient. More people living longer, less income generation. Something’s gotta give. It’s not going to be easy or pretty.
MuniBonds- If you think money managers overvalue them, you’re right!
GoldFacer- Once again, regulators have no idea what ‘quants’ are doing inside Goldman Sachs, and soon all big investment banks. Not only was Glass-Steagall blown to bits long ago, it’s worse. We’ve returned to pre-regulatory 1930-daze, secret back room deals. One investor, Goldman Sachs’ one share of Facebook can be sold out of sight of public scrutiny. No valuation, analysis data need be disclosed to anyone. By the time the SEC et al hear about it from staff who may read the Wall Street Journal, Goldman and inside traders will have reaped a gazillion in profits. Already on to the next game.
Carol’s Earlier Essay Titles:
Yerp- Will the EU last?
WomenInBiznessToday- Something’s gotta give.
GoldRising– Is China stockpiling? Is it the next bubble? Another recession?
Banks Now Being Sucked In by China– Danger, Jamie Dimon!
Decades of Difficulty Doing Bizness in China- Dynastic strategies.
Wall Street 2- Lessons from “Greed is Good” Days.
‘American’ Brands- Dove soap? Nope.
Derivatives Should Stay with Banks- Sheila Bair is right.
Caveat Emptor- Big banks that made big mistakes.
Naked Ladies Really Did Wreck the Economy! Regulators watching porn.
Naked Ladies Redux– The SEC – same song, different key.
Goldman Sachs Fraud? Not if disclosed.
MegaBanks Get Unfair Advantage– Too Big to Fail.
Picking Individual Stocks No Longer Works- “Quants”.
Barbarians and Liars Live On- Crashes come and go, greed endures.
Why have “Financial Advisors”? – If they have to work…
The Big Bank is not Your Bank- If you need credit forget it.
Carol Colitti Levine Marketing
What we do. For your business. Since January 2012.
Create, curate, edit, update financial and business websites with strategic marketing and branding advisory services.
Increase your bottom line. Attract new customers. Establish a unique place that sets you apart in the crowded digital marketplace.
Your customized internet space will incorporate Carol’s publishing and financial expertise to maximize profit growth. Updated often and fast to keep it fresh and friendly as a constant link to expand your target market. Get going. Just do it.
New clients- send a business profile to Carol at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an introductory meeting remote or at her Manhattan office.
Carol’s Experience~ Author. Publisher. International Marketing Executive. Senior Vice President and one of the first women Managing Directors of ABN AMRO, the Global Dutch Bank. In San Francisco, Boston and New York.