The Oracle of NY has moved to Omaha. Does that make him the Oracle of Omaha? No. That designation is already taken. He will simply remain the Oracle of NY in Omaha.
First impression: Omaha is refreshing.
The Oracle of NY has moved to Omaha. Does that make him the Oracle of Omaha? No. That designation is already taken. He will simply remain the Oracle of NY in Omaha.
First impression: Omaha is refreshing.
Strangely, as my job leads fizzled out one after another and in stark contrast to my financial situation which kept getting worse over the course of my unemployment, my publicity kept growing [and continues until this very day, Voices of the Decade, Ten defining events for New York City by the people who were there, New York Post, December 27, 2009]. Apparently, my image and story had struck a deep chord in the personal and social psyche. In fact, my publicity seemed to grow in perfect inverse proportion to the deepening global economic crisis.
As the Face of the American Economy and a Sign of the Times, I became the go-to guy for depressing economic news. Every time higher-than-expected unemployment numbers came out, I received at least one or two calls from journalists asking me to repeat the details of my sandwich board story and share my insights on the economy.
And every time a television, newspaper or Internet story came out displaying my sandwich board picture with my contact information in plain view, my cell phone would ring for hours, and I would receive dozens of emails from across the nation and around the world.
On August 22, a crew of journalists from Japan’s NTV chauffeured me from my Upper East Side sublet to Wall Street for an interview in the heart of capitalism.
We strolled around the financial district and settled on the steps of the old Federal Hall National Memorial, by the prominent bronze statue of George Washington.
I sat facing the New York Sock Exchange whose pillars were covered by a giant American flag and spoke about the presidential candidates, their economic policies and the upcoming elections.
I explained that initially I had been leaning toward Senator McCain because I thought we needed to maintain a clear strategy against terrorism and a strong force in the Middle East—and I was for lower taxes and less government.
However, I also admitted that Senator Obama’s charisma was pulling me in, and I was starting to believe he could help change the world’s perception of the USA for the better—which might be more powerful than the sword. Furthermore, I was for universal health care and aggressive development of alternative energy technologies.
Playing the diplomat, I said I was still on the fence and expected to learn more about the candidates’ policies and visions during the upcoming national conventions.
Crowds of tourists passed by, glancing at me as if I were a celebrity—and a street preacher who seemed to have been in the same spot since George Washington’s time barked for all to repent.
When the interview was over, I strolled around Wall Street recalling my first job after graduating MIT—when I worked on the floor of the American Stock Exchange as an Assistant Options Specialist.
I recalled the excitement on the floor, the rows of computer screens displaying stock quotations, the yelling and shoving as floor brokers and traders positioned themselves and elbowed their way through the crowds.
On the floor of the stock exchange, I had felt as though I were in the heart of capitalism, the center of the free market.
After an intense day on the floor, I would often go across the street for a beer at a bar on a high floor in the World Trade Centers. I would look out over the city and feel as though I were on top of the world.
I remembered the awe I had felt when my brother had first guided me around his place of employment, the Salomon Brothers trading floor near Battery Park. I recalled visiting with my mother in her office when she had worked at AIG on Maiden Lane. I recalled my father telling me that his first office, after graduating from Harvard Law School, had been on Lower Broadway.
My family and I were so connected to the financial district, I almost felt as if I were home—or more relevant to my situation, I had the heart-warming sensation of being employed again.
From Chairman Bernanke's speech at the Economic Club of New York:
In addition to constrained bank lending, a second area of great concern is the job market. Since December 2007, the U.S. economy has lost, on net, about 8 million private-sector jobs, and the unemployment rate has risen from less than 5 percent to more than 10 percent. Both the decline in jobs and the increase in the unemployment rate have been more severe than in any other recession since World War II.
Besides cutting jobs, many employers have reduced hours for the workers they have retained. For example, the number of part-time workers who report that they want a full-time job but cannot find one has more than doubled since the recession began, a much larger increase than in previous deep recessions.
In addition, the average workweek for production and nonsupervisory workers has fallen to 33 hours, the lowest level in the postwar period. These data suggest that the excess supply of labor is even greater than indicated by the unemployment rate alone.
With the job market so weak, businesses have been able to find or retain all the workers they need with minimal wage increases, or even with wage cuts. Indeed, standard measures of wages show significant slowing in wage gains over the past year. Together with the reduction in hours worked, slower wage growth has led to stagnation in labor income. Weak income growth, should it persist, will restrain household spending.
The best thing we can say about the labor market right now is that it may be getting worse more slowly. Declines in payroll employment over the past four months have averaged about 220,000 per month, compared with 560,000 per month over the first half of this year. The number of initial claims for unemployment insurance is well off its high of last spring, but claims still have not fallen to ranges consistent with rising employment.
Although economic pain is widespread across industries and regions, different groups of workers have been affected differently. For example, the unemployment rate for men between the ages of 25 and 54 has risen from less than 4 percent in late 2007 to 10.3 percent in October--nearly double the rise in unemployment among adult women. This discrepancy likely reflects the high concentration of job losses in manufacturing, construction, and financial services, industries in which men make up the majority of workers.
From the perspective of America's economic future, the effect of the recession on young workers is particularly worrisome: The unemployment rate among people between the ages of 16 and 24 has risen to 19 percent--and among African American youths, it is now about 30 percent. When young people are shut out of the job market, they lose valuable opportunities to gain work experience and on-the-job training, potentially reducing their future wages and employment opportunities.
Given this weakness in the labor market, a natural question is whether we might be in for a so-called jobless recovery, in which output is growing but employment fails to increase.
Productivity is defined as output per hour of work. Thus, essentially by definition, a jobless recovery--in which output is growing but hours of work are not--must be a period of productivity growth. In the jobless recoveries that followed the 1990-91 and 2001 recessions, productivity growth was quite strong. It may seem paradoxical that productivity growth--which in the longer term is the most important source of increases in real wages and living standards--can have adverse consequences for employment in the short term. But, when the demand for goods and services is growing slowly, that may be the case.
From the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
In October, the number of unemployed persons increased by 558,000 to 15.7 million. The unemployment rate rose by 0.4 percentage point to 10.2 percent, the highest rate since April 1983. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons has risen by 8.2 million, and the unemployment rate has grown by 5.3 percentage points.
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (10.7 percent) and whites (9.5 percent) rose in October. The jobless rates for adult women (8.1 percent), teenagers (27.6 percent), blacks (15.7 percent), and Hispanics (13.1 percent) were little changed over the month. The unemployment rate for Asians was 7.5 percent, not seasonally adjusted.
The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was little changed over the month at 5.6 million. In October, 35.6 percent of unemployed persons were jobless for 27 weeks or more.
The civilian labor force participation rate was little changed over the month at 65.1 percent. The employment-population ratio continued to decline in October, falling to 58.5 percent.
The number of persons working part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed in October at 9.3 million. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.
About 2.4 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in October, reflecting an increase of 736,000 from a year earlier. These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.
Among the marginally attached, there were 808,000 discouraged workers in October, up from 484,000 a year earlier. Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The other 1.6 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in October had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.
Paloma Bowland and I spoke at the NYSSA Career Development Breakfast about standing out and promoting your uniqueness without resorting to guerrilla marketing. The tried and true still works the best for most people, but you have got to reveal your personality and passion, point out you versatility, highlight your transferable skills and tell your potential employers how you will make them money, save them money and solve their problems.
When a recruiter comes across hundreds of black and white resumes that all look a like and all are more or less qualified for the position, how do they make a selection? They look for something that stands out: the color, the passion and the clarity of purpose.
To find your passion, personality and uniqueness, produce a non-chronological transferable skills (functional, transformational) resume.
Even with all my sign-board publicity, I had a difficult time finding a position as a valuations professional, but as soon as I created a transformational resume which highlighted that I was a both a valuations professional and a comfortable writer, I was offered a job.
From the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons has increased by 7.6 million to 15.1 million, and the unemployment rate has doubled to 9.8 percent.
Unemployment rates for the major worker groups--adult men (10.3 percent), adult women (7.8 percent), teenagers (25.9 percent), whites (9.0 percent), blacks (15.4 percent), and Hispanics (12.7 percent)--showed little change in September. The unemployment rate for Asians was 7.4 percent, not seasonally adjusted. The rates for all major worker groups are much higher than at the start of the recession.
Among the unemployed, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs rose by 603,000 to 10.4 million in September. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) rose by 450,000 to 5.4 million. In September, 35.6 percent of unemployed persons were jobless for 27 weeks or more.
The civilian labor force participation rate declined by 0.3 percentage point in September to 65.2 percent. The employment-population ratio, at 58.8 percent, also declined over the month and has decreased by 3.9 percentage points since the recession began in December 2007.
In September, the number of persons working part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed at 9.2 million. The number of such workers rose sharply throughout most of the fall and winter but has been little changed since March.
About 2.2 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in September, an increase of 615,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12
months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.
Among the marginally attached, there were 706,000 discouraged workers in September, up by 239,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The other 1.5 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in September had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.
Dennis Nally Chairman of PriceWaterhouseCoopers International Ltd. spoke of the need to restore trust in government, business and among countries. He called for more transparency: "Only when there is transparency can investors understand the risks and rewards." He called for convergence of global standards and regulations, such as the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
Francisco Gonzalez Chairman and CEO of BBVA, the 2nd largest bank in Spain and the 7th in the world, said that his bank was not impaired by the Global Recession because they base their business on principals (legal and ethical operations), people (customers and community) and innovation (transformational technology). He is in the midst of combining the physical and virtual relationships with his customers.
Peter Voser CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, the largest oil company in the world, pointed out that we will have 3 billion new energy users in the coming years, so there is an urgent need for carbon capture and storage. Natural gas should replace coal for electrical generation at it has half the carbon emissions. We should implement a global cap on carbon emissions.
Morris Chang founding Chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor was upbeat, admitting that his company was almost back at pre-crisis levels. He agreed that solar energy is a semi-conductor industry.
Roger Agnelli CEO Vale (not the ski resort but the Brazilian iron ore and nickle mining gorilla) was also upbeat because of infrastructure building in China and probably soon in the USA.
Gary Hamel, business strategy guru, stated that the greatest invention of the past century was management but said that not much has changed since the heyday of management innovation many decades ago. We need a mental revolution, a revolution in management. Change is changing (faster pace, exponential change). The world is more turbulent, but firms are not more resilient. How do you build a company where innovation is each employee's job? He seems to be embracing the Internet, social networking, transparency and peer pressure as the solution. Leaders should be selected from below, not from above. He implied and suggested that crowd sourcing and predictive software, respectively, are the waves of the future.
Irene Rosenfeld CEO of Kraft Foods lectured on how she transformed Kraft into a decentralized sustainable growth company by spending her first hundred days in office listening carefully to her employees, customers and suppliers.
Prof. Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winning economist, praised "Bernanke banking" for saving us from a full blown depression. He pointed out that growth has resumed but the damage is severe. Unemployment continues to increase, and it may take many years to decrease significantly. International trade has taken a bigger hit than during the Great Depression and may not resume as before due to higher energy costs and most of the progress in transportation - containerization and communication - has already been realized.
Former President Bill Clinton said that the "world is crying out" not about what to do or how much it will cost but concerning how to make the most of what you plan to do to have a positive impact on peoples' lives. Still a politician, he said that the answer to "Is the recession over?" is "yes," "no" and "maybe." Yes, we have resumed growth. No, people are not better off (we have lost 7 million jobs). Maybe, people remain spooked. He prefers the term "interdependence" over "globalization" because the latter is an economic term, while the former is holistic. He described how the world is too unequal, unstable and unsustainable. We have to produce more jobs! His ultimate message, using Mexico as an example, seemed to be, "Be kind to your neighbors."
I attended the World Business Forum at Radio City Music Hall, invited by the organizers not to speak but to be in the audience.
Professor Bill George of Harvard Business School and a director at Goldman Sachs and ExxonMobil gave the opening lecture. He praised Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Paulson as great leaders who stepped up in a time of crisis. He also mentioned unemployment as our most pressing problem, citing 25 million people or 17% of the workforce as unemployed. He said that Goldman decided to get out of the sub-prime market in Q1 2007 due to $70 million in losses.
Jack Welch former CEO of GE could not make the forum due to illness but Bill Conaty who spent 40 years in Human Resources at GE said that great leaders develop great succession plans and are not intimidated by star underlings.
Patrick Lencioni, teamwork guru, said that management, like parenting, is simple conceptually. The challenge is to repeat it day after day. He insisted that to be successful, companies have to be smart as well as healthy (i.e. not dysfunctional).
David Rubenstein co-founder of The Carlyle Group, one of the world's largest Private Equity funds, said that we should get used to knowing our children better as they will likely move in with us after college. He compared our financial environment to the aftermath of a severe hurricane. We now have a mess consisting of debt, deficit, impending inflation, taxes, unemployment, declining dollar and energy concerns. We should expect 7-8% unemployment as as opposed to 4-5% and 1-2% GDP growth as opposed to 3-4%.
Economist Jeffery Sachs Director of the Earth Institute gave a painful lecture about global economics, pointing out that the "world is bursting at the seems." With 7 billion people in the world and a $70 trillion world economy, we are living in an unsustainable situation. major problems include carbon emissions, water resources, energy (oil) and land usage. He said that unfortunately policy is still being formed behind closed doors by special interest groups.
T. Boone Pickens gave his pitch for energy independence by using natural gas for automobiles.
Kevin Roberts CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi spoke about the death of brands and the birth of "lovemarks" which call for "loyalty beyond reason." We are moving in a "participation economy" (word of mouth turbo-charged by social networking) where the only two questions that count are:
1) Do I want to see it again?
2) Do I want to share it?
George Lucas said that in his youth he was and wanted to be a race car driver and fell into movie-making accidentally after a car accident. He defined art as an emotional connection always involving technology (where voice and dance involve the least technology while movie-making involves the most) and said that our goal is to create knowledge and pass it to the next generation.
Remarks by Vice President Biden on the unemployment numbers:
Today's tough news is a reminder though that -- as if anybody would need it -- how critical this work is in making the Recovery Act work and why. As I told the Cabinet assembled yesterday, those efforts need to be redoubled in the weeks ahead. Let me be clear about one thing: Today's bad news does not change my confidence in the fact that we are going to recover. We will be producing jobs. The American economy and the job engine is going to be created and moving once again.
And I believe we're doing the right things to move things in the right direction. And the determination and creativity of the American people, combined with our determination to stay the course on this recovery, are what is going to produce the ultimate result of a thrilling, vibrant economy, which brings me to the meeting that we're having today.
We're working with the task force to lay a new foundation for economic growth, a future predicated on good education, high-quality health care, and clean energy innovation; and that future that doesn't leave the middle class behind. And we're up against -- we are committed, as we go through, there will be peaks and valleys in this process. This is not a straight line to recovery, but we are recovering. We will recover. And we're determined that when we do, the middle class is in a better position coming out of this than when it went into this Great Recession.
I attended a stimulating conference sponsored by Labaton Sucharow LLP.
"Pay Czar" Ken Feinberg spoke of the pressures of determining the specific compensation for the 25 top executives at the seven companies that received TARP funding, as well as the policies for compensating the next 75 top executives at each of the companies. He noted that this was the first time that the government was fixing the salaries of executives in the private sector, but also noted that since the tax payers are creditors to the companies, it makes some sense.
Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz spoke about how GDP measurements and the metrics used do not accurately reflect what the average person is experiencing or feeling. He pointed out how the GDP can go up while most people are actually worse off. His main concern seemed to be the cost of carbon emissions and the lack of sustainability of the USA economic model. He also pointed out that disability claims were up 23% which is not included in the unemployment numbers.
Mark Olson Co-Chairman of the Board Corporate Risk Advisors promised we will see legislation and the creation of a new agency to address and correct the problems with our financial system.
Diana Henriques Senior Financial Writer for The New York Times suggested that Madoff's clients were in the best position to know what was going on - and many did.
Dylan Ratigan of MSNBC and CNBC fame touched on many of the points of the previous speakers and suggested that we focus on updating outdated systems as opposed to just condemning failed systems.
Some 5 million people, about one-third of those on the unemployment list, have been without a job for six months or more, a record since data started being recorded in 1948, according to the research and advocacy group National Employment Law Project.
"It smashes any other figure we have ever seen. It is an unthinkable number," said Andrew Stettner, NELP's deputy director. He said there are currently about six jobless people for every job opening, so it's unlikely people are purposefully living off unemployment insurance while waiting for something better to come along.
Remarks by the President on the occasion of Rosh Hashanah:
As members of the Jewish faith here in America and around the world gather to celebrate the High Holidays, I want to extend my warmest wishes for this New Year. L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu – may you have a good year, and may you be inscribed for blessing in the Book of Life.
Rosh Hashanah marks the start of a new year – a time of humble prayer, joyful celebration, and hope for a new beginning. Ten days later, Yom Kippur stands as a day of reflection and repentance. And this sacred time provides not just an opportunity for individual renewal and reconciliation, but for families, communities and even nations to heal old divisions, seek new understandings, and come together to build a better world for our children and grandchildren.
At the dawn of this New Year, let us rededicate ourselves to that work. Let us reject the impulse to harden ourselves to others’ suffering, and instead make a habit of empathy – of recognizing ourselves in each other and extending our compassion to those in need.
Let us resist prejudice, intolerance, and indifference in whatever forms they may take -- let us stand up strongly to the scourge of anti-Semitism, which is still prevalent in far too many corners of our world.
Let us work to extend the rights and freedoms so many of us enjoy to all the world’s citizens – to speak and worship freely; to live free from violence and oppression; to make of our lives what we will.
And let us work to achieve lasting peace and security for the state of Israel, so that the Jewish state is fully accepted by its neighbors, and its children can live their dreams free from fear. That is why my Administration is actively pursuing the lasting peace that has eluded Israel and its Arab neighbors for so long.
Throughout history, the Jewish people have been, in the words of the Prophet Isaiah, "a light unto the nations." Through an abiding commitment to faith, family, and justice, Jews have overcome extraordinary adversity, holding fast to the hope of a better tomorrow.
In this season of renewal, we celebrate that spirit; we honor a great and ancient faith; and we rededicate ourselves to the work of repairing this world.
Michelle and I wish all who celebrate Rosh Hashanah a healthy, peaceful and sweet New Year.
I was on a business breakfast networking panel this morning hosted by Edmund Bogen of First Degree networking services.
First Degree is the only company of its kind which attacks business / career development from both sides - strategic planning & logical networking. This two-sided strategy is simple, yet effective. Our clients realize an increase in the velocity of introductions to high-probability lead sources.
The topic under discussion was the "Economic Outlook for 2010." Although cautious, the panel seemed to be optimistic (within a time frame of 2 to 3 years i.e. in 2010 will still be in crisis) while the audience of approximately forty networking tri-state area professionals was split between optimists and pessimists. The overwhelming concerns seemed to be the high unemployment numbers and the bad news yet to surface.
Fellow panelists included Michael Cohn of Atlantis Asset Management, an investment strategist with a real hedge, and Dr. Doug Hirschhorn, a popular motivational speaker, coach and consultant.
I generated several new leads and and thoroughly enjoyed the relatively modest gathering which was large enough to be diverse but small enough to be intimate.
From President Obama’s back to school speech:
Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures.
JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published.
Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.
No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.
And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself....
From the U.S. Department of Labor:
In the week ending Aug. 29, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 570,000, a decrease of 4,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 574,000. The 4-week moving average was 571,250, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week's revised average of 567,250.
The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending Aug. 22 was 6,234,000, an increase of 92,000 from the preceding week's revised level of 6,142,000. The 4-week moving average was 6,216,750, a decrease of 27,250 from the preceding week's revised average of 6,244,000.