From Jill Schlesinger, Financial Advisor – Special to CNN's American Morning
Editor’s note: Jill Schlesinger, a certified financial planner, is executive vice president and chief investment officer of StrategicPoint Investment Advisors, which is based in Providence, Rhode Island.
I appeared on CNN's "American Morning" at 7:30 am today, ostensibly to provide commentary about the payment by beleaguered insurance giant AIG of $165 million in bonuses for last year. The interview turned into a brawl as the other guest vilified me and all of Wall Street for the AIG bonuses – in his mind, the compensation issue was in fact the root of the whole financial crisis. I did not get the opportunity to talk about what is missing from that analysis.
I came off the set thinking that we owe you more than a divisive, populist shouting match. Analysts, broadcasters and journalists of varied stripes owe you the nuance of the story, not just the headlines. We need to find the space between the poles that divide us so that we can discuss and understand the grey areas of this complicated and important subject – that is where the truly important policy decisions lie and where the impact on our economic future can be found. So here is the grey area surrounding the AIG bonus/Wall Street compensation story that I was not given the chance to articulate this morning.
All this week we're breaking down the global recession with our "Road to Rescue" coverage.
But we're not just looking at the problems, but talking to people with solutions.
Yesterday, we told you about an Ohio cafe where business is booming... with a "pay what you want" menu.
Sam Lippert – the cafe's owner – joined us live to tell us how it's going
The roots are growing in. The extensions are coming out. And the era of super-expensive haircuts is now like your 401K—a thing of the past. This immutable reality has salon owners across the country biting their nails as more and more clients decide to skimp on beauty treatments.
“We haven’t seen it this bad in the 22-years we have been,” said the owner of the J.Sisters, a high-end salon in Manhattan, where hair extensions will run you anywhere from $1500 to $3000 and Brazilian bikini waxes (their specialty) are $75.
“People are scared.” It’s no better on the West Coast, according to stylist-to-the-stars Jose Eber. “I’ve been in Beverly Hills for 30 years and it’s never been this bad.”
Salon owners say that clients are stretching the weeks between treatments. “They don’t come as often,” said Eber. “Instead of 4-6 weeks, it’s 10-12 weeks.” And they’re cutting back on everything from blowouts to hairweaves.
Good Morning and Happy St. Patrick's Day,
So our first day here on AM making it easier for you guys to give us feedback - we have our new toll-free phone line 877-MY-AM-FIX, our Facebook page and our Twitter accounts... and boy, did we get an earful!
More than 4000 calls to our hotline, hundreds more people following our tweets on Twitter. We are really trying to make it worth your while by taking your feedback, putting it on the air and answering your questions.
The biggest talker this morning without a doubt is still the AIG bonus outrage.
Things even got heated between our two guests Ryan Mack, President, Optimum Capital Management/Investment Advisor and Jill Schlesinger, Exec VP & Chief Investment Officer of Strategic Point Investment Advisors/Financial Advisor who had very different takes on the issue. Check it out here
A lot of our guests and viewers asked "Why does there seem to be a double standard for AIG?". Other industries and companies were forced to re-negotiate contracts in the face of this financial crisis. Workers were forced to take less money or forego a raise in an effort to keep their company afloat.
The other big question– why didn't the White House or Congress attach more strings before freeing up this bailout (taxpayer) money?
A lot to chew over this morning. But as always we'll keep you posted on what we find out. In the meantime, keep your comments coming.
Thousands of you are seeing red over the green bestowed on AIG traders and executives. Incredible and overwhelming response to AM this morning about the taxpayer dollars going to pay hundreds of millions in bonuses to AIG.
Three undeniable facts you keep hammering: the taxpayer owns 80 percent of this company. The company's performance was horrendous and almost brought down the world financial system. No one would be getting a bonus if it weren't for the government rescue. Almost every caller and emailer is demanding these legal contracts be renegotiated.
A Treasury department official says the government's legal analysis shows the bonuses must be legally paid. The President says he wants to try to block them. Millions have already gone out the door. It's all just another ugly example of the mess we are in.
“When I got that tap on the shoulder I just was flabbergasted. I was amazed.”
Brittany Sharpton recalled the day last November when she was laid off from her job as an infrastructure analyst at Citigroup. When the 23-year-old joined the investment firm in 2007 she envisioned rising up through the ranks and becoming a senior manager. Instead, she was handed a pink slip, and according to Sharpton, every woman in her group was let go.
“There was just absolutely no discretion, no regard not only with performance but keeping a generation of women in the group,” Sharpton said.
Susan Antilla, who wrote about sexual discrimination on Wall Street in “Tales from the Boom-Boom Room,” is not surprised. She says historically whenever there’s a recession, women on Wall Street lose their jobs.
“Inevitably, we have downturns, and the downturn comes and whack, they’re gone.”