Saturday, November 29, 2008

Our Money- Can We Trust The Government To Protect It



By Dr. Boyce Watkins
www.BoyceWatkins.com

Media reports show that many Americans are not quite sure of what to do with their money. Watching banks fail left and right, people are logically afraid of what might happen to their savings. This fear is justified, as we are seeing our accounts beaten and stomped by the global financial meltdown.

This grave concern is magnified by the fact that those we’ve trusted are the ones who’ve left us vulnerable. Our most cherished financial experts handled our retirement accounts like flashy vehicles on a Nascar speedway. Our elected officials allowed executives in the banking industry to run rampant like 3-year olds with dirty diapers. Then, when the crash came, a massive bailout package was created for those most responsible for the damage, while the rest of us were left holding the tax bill.

This begs the question: Why in the hell should we trust the government?

I recall that during the failure of Enron, one of the most respected companies in America at the time, the firm made several statements designed to create confidence in the company’s financial condition. Like captains of the Titanic, company leaders explained that there was nothing to worry about, even as they themselves were preparing their lifeboats. When the company failed, those who did not protect themselves reminded us of one grim and fundamental truth: when the “you know what” hits the fan, it’s every man for himself….and every woman too, in case you’re wondering.

In response to such sentiment, the American consumer has been working overtime to protect his/her resources: people have (against my advice) moved their money away from the frightening stock market, they are diversifying money into different banks, and some are taking their money out of banks altogether. All of these actions are occurring in spite of government calls for calm in a world on the verge of financial panic.

The honest to goodness truth is that I don’t blame Americans for being afraid. I don’t blame them for not trusting the government right now. Trust must be earned in any relationship, whether it is a tough marriage of the relationship between a government and its citizens. Our government must work to regain that trust through sound and efficient financial management. It will NOT regenerate the public trust through excessive spending on meaningless wars, selfish pork-filled bills being passed through Congress and budget deficits that strain the resources of Americans everywhere.

I can’t tell you if the government is lying to you, but I can tell you this: There was a time when government guarantees such as FDIC insurance were as pure as the driven snow. There was a time when the United States Federal Government had pockets and resources so deep that even God himself could be bailed out with our cash. The sad truth, however, is that no empire lasts forever, and there is destined to be a day in the future when we are no longer the unquestionable economic super power that we once were. A country that can’t even afford its social security obligations is hardly a nation that has risen beyond economic risk.

Another sad truth is that if the financial world really were coming to an end, the citizens would be the last to find out about any such crisis. We would, simultaneously, be the first ones asked to suffer the burden of irresponsible behavior by our leaders. If that doesn’t justify a bit of skepticism, I am not sure what does.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University. He does regular commentary in national media, including CNN, ESPN, CBS and BET. For more information, please visit www.BoyceWatkins.com.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What is Consumer Confidence? Dr Boyce Watkins Explains


Dr. Boyce Watkins
www.Boycewatkins.com

If you wish to see a video explaining consumer confidence, which is one of the driving issues behind the recent moves in the stock market, please click here.

This has been an interesting week, with auto execs showing up on private jets to request a bailout from the government and the Dow moving to below 8,000 points for the first time in 5 years. I still hold to the fact that this is a great time to get into the stock market if one has never done so before, especially if you are under the age of 50. By the way - please visit our sponsor, GreatBlackSpeakers.com if you are interested in hiring a top notch African American speaker or seeking to become one.

Take care!
Boyce Watkins
http://www.blogger.com/www.boycewatkins.com
Click here to join our money advice list.

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If you listen carefully to the words of Treasury Secretary Henry “Hank” Paulson and Ben “Big Ben” Bernanke (chairman of the Federal Reserve) you might notice a trend in their language. The word “confidence” is used a lot when they speak. Many of their monetary proposals are not necessarily valuable for their financial power, but also for their psychological power.

Some of you may wonder what confidence has to do with anything. After all, if you’re broke, confidence doesn’t exactly put money in your pocket. If you’re 100 pounds overweight, confidence won’t help you win the Olympic 100 meter dash. When you are flying on a crashing plane, confidence doesn’t keep the plane from slamming into the ground. But confidence is important to an economy, and one of the most significant drivers of economic growth. In fact, over confidence has driven US economic growth for the past 10 years. Here are some reasons that confidence matters in the minds of Hank and Big Ben:

1) Confident consumers spend money

If you think you might lose your job next year, are you going to max out your credit cards? I certainly hope not. If you are worried about being able to make ends meet, are you going to buy that big screen TV? Not unless you want your wife to leave you. So, even if it doesn’t hold any truth, the mere forecast of a weak economy is enough to make many Americans hold off on consumer spending, one of the great driving forces of the American financial system.

2) Confident companies invest money and hire workers

Investments involve risk. Your hunch may work out, and it may not. If you don’t believe the economy is getting better, you are not going to consider taking that risk. No one plans to go to the beach if the weather man says that it’s going to rain. When economic rain is in the forecast, companies pull out their umbrellas and hold off on new projects. This reduces the number of jobs in the economy, because nearly every job created in America is the result of someone making an investment.

3) Confident Americans do not take their money out of banks

In case you didn’t know, your bank does not have your money. Your money is part of a large base of financial capital that is loaned out to individuals and consumers seeking to get a good return on their investment. So, without investing, your bank would have no interest in paying you any interest at all. So if, say, 30% of all customers of the same bank decide to get their money out at the same time, the bank would have serious financial problems. It is a lack of confidence that could cause customers to “run” on their bank and take out their money.

4) Confident investors keep their money in the stock market

The stock market is a place where fortunes are made and lost. Some part of that fortune is psychological, given that no asset can have a value which exceeds that which someone is willing to pay for it. When investors lose confidence, they take their money out of the stock market, and reductions in demand for stocks lead to massive paper losses in the market. Additionally, most Americans are “momentum traders”, meaning that when the market goes up, they tend to buy more, and when it goes down, they tend to sell. History shows that it is actually the opposite approach that tends to work best.

5) Confident banks make loans

Banks have to keep a certain portion of their funds on hand at all times to meet federal requirements. If they are fearful that their customers might come and demand their cash, they hold onto their capital to ensure that it is available. If they are afraid that their borrowing customers will not be able to repay loans due to a weak economy, they also hold back on issuing new loans. The truth is that when economic forecasts are grim, conservative bankers become even more fearful than the rest of us.

The bottom line of this article is that confidence matters. So, the next time you hear Ben Bernanke give a speech, you can be confident that he is going to use language that makes you feel more secure. Whether you choose to believe those words is up to you.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University. He does regular commentary in national media, including CNN, BET, ESPN and CBS. For more information, please visit http://www.blogger.com/www.boycewatkins.com. To join our money list, please click here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Should We Really Trust The Government? Thoughts of A Black Finance Professor

Keeping Your Cool During A Financial Meltdown




by Dr. Boyce Watkins
http://www.boycewatkins.com/


If you listen carefully to the words of Treasury Secretary Henry “Hank” Paulson and Ben “Big Ben” Bernanke (chairman of the Federal Reserve) you might notice a trend in their language. The word “confidence” is used a lot when they speak. Many of their monetary proposals are not necessarily valuable for their financial power, but also for their psychological power.


Some of you may wonder what confidence has to do with anything. After all, if you’re broke, confidence doesn’t exactly put money in your pocket. If you’re 100 pounds overweight, confidence won’t help you win the Olympic 100 meter dash. When you are flying on a crashing plane, confidence doesn’t keep the plane from slamming into the ground. But confidence is important to an economy, and one of the most significant drivers of economic growth. In fact, over confidence has driven US economic growth for the past 10 years. Here are some reasons that confidence matters in the minds of Hank and Big Ben:


1) Confident consumers spend money
If you think you might lose your job next year, are you going to max out your credit cards? I certainly hope not. If you are worried about being able to make ends meet, are you going to buy that big screen TV? Not unless you want your wife to leave you. So, even if it doesn’t hold any truth, the mere forecast of a weak economy is enough to make many Americans hold off on consumer spending, one of the great driving forces of the American financial system.

2) Confident companies invest money and hire workers
Investments involve risk. Your hunch may work out, and it may not. If you don’t believe the economy is getting better, you are not going to consider taking that risk. No one plans to go to the beach if the weather man says that it’s going to rain. When economic rain is in the forecast, companies pull out their umbrellas and hold off on new projects. This reduces the number of jobs in the economy, because nearly every job created in America is the result of someone making an investment.

3) Confident Americans do not take their money out of banks
In case you didn’t know, your bank does not have your money. Your money is part of a large base of financial capital that is loaned out to individuals and consumers seeking to get a good return on their investment. So, without investing, your bank would have no interest in paying you any interest at all. So if, say, 30% of all customers of the same bank decide to get their money out at the same time, the bank would have serious financial problems. It is a lack of confidence that could cause customers to “run” on their bank and take out their money.

4) Confident investors keep their money in the stock market
The stock market is a place where fortunes are made and lost. Some part of that fortune is psychological, given that no asset can have a value which exceeds that which someone is willing to pay for it. When investors lose confidence, they take their money out of the stock market, and reductions in demand for stocks lead to massive paper losses in the market. Additionally, most Americans are “momentum traders”, meaning that when the market goes up, they tend to buy more, and when it goes down, they tend to sell. History shows that it is actually the opposite approach that tends to work best.

5) Confident banks make loans
Banks have to keep a certain portion of their funds on hand at all times to meet federal requirements. If they are fearful that their customers might come and demand their cash, they hold onto their capital to ensure that it is available. If they are afraid that their borrowing customers will not be able to repay loans due to a weak economy, they also hold back on issuing new loans. The truth is that when economic forecasts are grim, conservative bankers become even more fearful than the rest of us.

The bottom line of this article is that confidence matters. So, the next time you hear Ben Bernanke give a speech, you can be confident that he is going to use language that makes you feel more secure. Whether you choose to believe those words is up to you.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of “Financial Lovemaking 101: Merging Assets with Your Partner in Ways that Feel Good”. For more information, please visit http://boycewatikns.com/

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Syracuse Prof Boyce Watkins Talks About Barack Obama

I recall endorsing Barack Obama back when it was simply wishful thinking to hope for a Black President. During a CNN appearance over a year ago, I mentioned that his backing by Oprah Winfrey would change Obama from being “Hillary Clinton’s black baby brother” into a man who could run one of the most significant presidential campaigns in American history. This is one of the few times when I enjoy being able to say, “I told you so.”


President Obama is, quite simply, the Tiger Woods of American politics: another Black man of mixed heritage, who used the power of tremendous focus, creativity, intelligence and preparation to do the impossible. Like his counterpart Tiger Woods (who happens to be a Republican), Obama went into the domain of White males and dominated in ways that simply transcended his chosen field. Similar to the way that Tiger’s greatness attracted droves of fans that’d never cared much about golf, Obama brought in millions of voters who would never have cared much about a presidential election.


I am proud of Barack Obama for the way he ran his campaign. His choice of advisors and campaign strategy has changed the face of American politics for the next 100 years. He dismantled the “Death Star Clinton Regime” through the use of innovative, daring and powerful tactics, a sound choice of advisors and lots of good old fashioned intelligence.


I am proud of Barack Obama for liberating our minds. For the first time in quite a while, millions of Black boys had a chance to see an intelligent Black man consistently profiled in “mainstream” media. This man showed our kids that you can be a “balla” without dribbling a basketball and a major “playa” without being played. Greatness is not achieved with a football, a hand gun or a microphone; it is achieved with a textbook, a college diploma and a sound economic plan.
I was proud of Barack Obama long before he became our president. I don’t need validation from the rest of America to feel good about whom we are as a people. We were just as great, just as strong, and just as accomplished and just as meaningful on November 3 as we are right now. The presidential election is essentially a popularity contest which leads to uncomfortable tradeoffs and “deals with the devil” that reduce the glitter of addictive political gold. The respect I give Barack Obama for raising hundreds of millions of dollars to get access to the Whitehouse is matched by the respect I give Dr. Julianne Malveaux for raising tens of millions of dollars to educate young Black women at Bennett College. Being President of the United States is not what makes Barack Obama a great man: He is a great man because he is a great man.


I am proud of Barack Obama for marrying Michelle, who served as one of my primary reasons for trusting him. I have a hard time imagining a man who can sleep with Michelle Obama every night and not be influenced by her beautiful mind. Michelle Obama is not a “buppy” soccer mom, Stepford Wife, or wannabe Barbara Bush. Michelle is a super sharp and relentless “sister girl”, who demands the most of her African American husband. She makes the first family as beautiful as Barack Obama makes it strong.


I am proud of Barack Obama for his willingness to take his life and career into the lion’s den. He inherits a terrible economy, an unjust war, a sickening healthcare system and an educational system which cripples our children for life. Like the first Black football coaches in the NCAA, Obama has been granted the reigns of a team with a serious losing record. Furthermore, he must bend and twist to satisfy citizens of the same country that was na├»ve enough to consider mediocre characters like George Bush and Sarah Palin to possibly run our great nation. I sincerely wish Obama the best as he attacks these problems, and I hope that this brilliant Black man with the middle name “Hussein” can negotiate the balance between our quest for a better world and America’s consistent commitment to anti-intellectualism.


As proud as I am of President Obama, I am also proud of America for showing that it has the ability to choose the right person for the job, instead of the right WHITE person for the job. By choosing Obama, we have shown our capacity for fairness, and how much progress we’ve made to overcome some of our racial demons of the past. The easiest thing to do, however, is to think that having a Black president is going to change the lives of most Black people. The reality is that BLACK PEOPLE THEMSELVES is going to change the lives of Black people and if we do not embrace the power of financial independence and unity, we will simply remain perpetual socio-economic slaves in the domain of a new overseer. The same way America rolled back the political gains of the 1960s, the Washington-based rewards of the new millennium could be just as fleeting.


President Obama did his job, now it’s time for us to do ours. Good luck over the next 4 years.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Boyce Watkins on The Wendy Williams Experience

Dr Boyce Watkins
www.BoyceWatkins.com

I had a relatively awkward experience this weekend during a trip to New York. I was invited to appear with my friend Wendy Williams, host of The Wendy Williams Experience. You never know where the conversation is going when it comes to Wendy, so you have to be prepared for anything. She is, however, one of the most professional hosts I work with, and her 11 million listeners give her the right to call herself the Queen of Urban Radio. She asked me why I parted ways with my ex-fiance (an amazing woman for whom I have tremendous respect), the election of Barack Obama, my feud with the socio-political terrorist known as Bill O'Reilly, the financial crisis and everything else.

Most interesting was that she asked me about DL Hughley's new CNN show, which I've been quite vocal about lately. I don't hate DL, but I feel strongly that the nature and structure of his new CNN show are quite problematic. My disappointment with DL began 2 years ago during the Don Imus scandal, during which he agreed (on Jay Leno) that the educated women on the Rutgers University Basketball team really WERE a "pack of nappy headed hoes."

Sorry DL, but that's not cool.

What made the situation on Wendy's show funniest, however, was the fact that DL was scheduled to be the next guest on the show after me! Wendy joked, "Dr Boyce, we have to get you out of here because if DL sees you, he might want to punch you in the face." But apparently DL doesn't realize that I am actually the second cousin of Muhammad Ali! I was hoping we would not have to take it to the street!

I thought I would see DL in the lobby, but he was not there yet. It was probably best that way, since I stand by every word. Cooning is cooning, and we don't need an Obama presidency reduced to a minstrel show. I encourage DL to be more responsible.

Respect to everyone reading. If you wish to listen to the show, the link is above and also at my personal blog: www.drboycespeaks.blogspot.com. Also, thousands of you are choosing to "get your money in line for 2009" by joining the Dr. Boyce Finance group for money advice. Please feel free to share this with your friends.

Boyce
www.BoyceWatkins.com

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Black Finance Professor Speaks Out Against “D.L. Hughley Breaks the News"

Dr. Boyce Watkins

www.BoyceWatkins.com

Hey peeps!

The response I received from you guys on the new CNN show, “DL Hughley Breaks the News” was overwhelming. Within 20 minutes of sending out the email statement, we had an entire inbox full of messages expressing extreme disappointment in CNN and this offensive new show.

This helped me realize that we need to do something about it.

Our goal is to present an intelligent, dignified and firm response to CNN, letting them know that programming based on racial stereotypes is not acceptable. Political satire can be quite funny, but it must be intelligent, balanced and conscientious. This is not the brand of humor presented in “DL Hughley Breaks the News”, which went back to the same degrading media stereotypes and disturbing images that scholars and consumers have been upset about for decades. Senator Obama opened the door for us to see ourselves as educated, enlightened and empowered, so the last thing we need is to be readmitted to the asylum of pimps, thugs, criminals and buffoons.
A sample letter you can use to contact CNN is presented below. You can get the contact information at this link. You can also forward this link and email to anyone you believe to share your sentiments regarding how our community should respond to this painful and disappointing new show. If you wish to hear my personal comments on the topic, please click here.

Finally, don’t forget that we are going to “Get our paper straight in 2008”, so if you wish to join our group for Dr. Boyce Financial Advice, please click here.

The sample letter is below. You can get contact information for key decision-makers at CNN by clicking here. Remember: Change won’t start with Obama or McCain. Meaningful change is going to start with US.

To CNN and its key decision-makers,

As a member of the Your Black World coalition, I am writing to inform you that I found your recently released show, “DL Hughley Breaks the News” to be a tremendous disappointment. While I certainly respect CNN’s effort to develop itself as “The most trusted name in news”, I did not find the new DL Hughley show to be consistent with the degree of trust that CNN has worked to obtain with the American public.

The 2008 Presidential campaign represents an amazing landmark for change within our country by allowing an African American male to present himself to the world as a dignified and educated member of our society, an image which lies in stark contrast to media representations confining Black men to being criminals, rappers, athletes and entertainers. I found it disheartening that this progress was reversed by CNN’s decision to create a show which relied on the very same stereotypes to build a consistent stream of laughs at the expense of African Americans everywhere. The show was also degrading to those in the broader community who support the candidacy of Senator Barack Obama, and who wish to see our great country move past the deep and painful wounds created by our nation’s legacy of racial inequality.

We ask that you discontinue the show, “DL Hughley Breaks the News”, and consider a brand of political humor that is respectful to all ethnicities and shows greater appreciation for the tremendous gains made in the 2008 Presidential election. Perhaps then, CNN can regain its status as “The most trusted name in news”.

Sincerely,

The Your Black World Coalition